Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live Action Series NEEDS Accurate Representation
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Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live Action Series NEEDS Accurate Representation

We're not even going to start with the 2010 movie...

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Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live Action Series NEEDS Accurate Representation
Screenshot via Nickelodeon

Avatar: The Last Airbender, or ATLA, was one of my favorite shows when I was younger, and I'm still rewatching it at 18.

It had a fantastic storyline, great character development, a beautiful soundtrack and the most amazing representation for Indigenous and Asian communities.

From the character names, to the outfits, to even the different bending styles seen in the show, they were inspired by Asian and Indigenous cultures.

The show really revolutionized representation for both of those minorities and non-stereotypical characters. This was especially important for kids growing up without a favorite character that looked like them. ATLA gave them that: a fictional role model they could watch and see accomplish amazing things.

The cartoon version of ATLA was released on Netflix, and it quickly gained even more popularity in the past few months on TikTok. Users were making fan art, cosplaying as characters, discussing their favorite character storylines, writing their own ATLA musical songs and recreating the soundtrack.

Then, fans found out that Netflix planned on filming a live action ATLA series. Everyone was ecstatic that they'd be able to see their favorite cartoon remade, especially after the horrific 2010 live action movie. Users were even posting auditions to play their favorite character!

Despite the excitement over this live action, most people were concerned that it would end up just like the movie. One of the biggest issues fans had with the movie was the racial representation. For example, Katara and Sokka, two of the main Indigenous characters, were portrayed by white actors.

This is an issue that, as a white-identifying person, I'm really concerned about. Indigenous and Asian characters need to be played by people of that ethnicity, especially because the entire show is influenced and inspired by those cultures, and white-washing has happened too many times in the media.

POC too often don't have media representation or are heavily stereotyped. This show was important to thousands of kids, who are now teens and adults, and we care about having an accurate representation redo.

Further, the characters start off very young in the show. Aang is 12 at the start of the series, and that needs to be accurate as well. This needs to be included in the live action series to make it as accurate as possible, but also because kids NEED to see other kids go through struggles and accomplish their goals.

These concerns grew even more when users starting talking about how Noah Centineo was rumored to be considered for a role, which caused an uproar from fans as he isn't the age nor the proper ethnicity for the characters. However, this was just fake news, but the outcry it sparked made fans even more focused on the appropriate casting.

People even started making jokes about famous white actors being the "dream cast" for the show (i.e. Joey King, Tom Holland and even Scarlett Johansson).

An unfortunately true piece of news about the series, however, is that the cartoon creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, left this series after two years of development over creative differences with Netflix.

As you can read in DiMartino's blog post, the creators' vision for the show will not be the one coming out. DiMartino and Konietzko weren't part of the 2010 movie, and we know how that turned out. Not only that, but this is also really concerning for fans because they shaped the Asiatic culture and ideologies for the characters. Without the original creators, will the show even feel the same?

Overall, the realistically-imagined cinematic universe of ATLA will be so breath-taking to watch, so long as it is an accurate live action series. We NEED Indigenous and Asian actors to play our beloved ATLA characters, not only for the sake of the show's integrity, but because accurate ethnic representation is absolutely essential in the media.

The casting is still undergoing, and with COVID-19, it could be a while before we hear any official news. This means Netflix has time to do this right, and I truly hope they listen to ATLA fans.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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