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  • Danny Harrington

Is Netflix's Avatar the Last Airbender a Worthy Adaptation?

The Last Airbender is out right now on Netflix, this series has been on my dread list simply because the series creators exited the project early in its development, much like the terrible film adaptation of the beloved animated classic.

In the build up to the release of this series we’d heard rumour that this isn’t the most faithful of adaptations, which is fine, I heard a rumour that one key plot point of the later series Sozin’s commit would not actually be a plot point (Watch the series to find out if that rumour is wrong).

We are going to get into spoiler territory now so read on if you have watched all eight episodes, if not come back once you’ve watched them.

First off this is and I can’t express in writing so much better than the previous live action version, it has better special effects and ultimately a cast that’s so in tune with their characters, the casting director needs a raise. Gordon Cormier is excellent as Aang, Kiawentiio Tarbell as Katara and Ian Ousley as Sokka are great together. For the fire nation Prince Zuko is played by Dallas Liu but special praise for Paul Sun-Hyung Lee playing Iroh, he perfectly captures the warmth of this character despite his tragic backstory of not only losing his crown but more importantly his son. You genuinely feel the love between Zuko and Iroh’s actors, which is such an important relationship of the series, if Aang and his gang provide the action then I would suggest Zuko’s redemption and Iroh is the soul of Avatar.

As stated, this isn’t a like for like adaptation but it’s not a complete swerve like the recent Scott Pilgram series. We get to see a little more of Aang’s backstory in the first episode before we get to the giant iceberg Aang is frozen in, I thought this was a nice touch because you really feel a deeper connection with characters that the animation explores in its later series.

There are certain story elements missing from the story, Sokka for instance isn’t as sexist as he is originally in the animation it’s instead replaced by a mild narcissistic leadership complex but it’s sort of dropped midway through the series. I’ve seen articles praising the series for dropping this element, however I disagree, the point I took from the original series is that yes Sokka is a sexist numbskull however he constantly got shown up by female fighters & benders in the series and that where he grows as a character.

The season story is a mix and match from the different seasons of the original show, the major plot points from season one of the animation are there however for example one plot point that is changed is that Aang needs help from Avatar Roku to defeat Koh the face steeler, when in the original series it was avatar Kuruk who faced and defeated him.

I'm certainly looking forward to seeing more of of Elizabeth Yu's Azula in season two as she is a great character whom we get a hint of underlying craziness of in this first season, but not a lot.

Since the original animation is so beloved, I’m not sure anything could possibly live up to how good the original is, but with that said this show is very good. It gives Netflix it’s second great live action adaptation after One Piece which is highly rated, if only they could have made Cowboy Bepop this good.


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