Even if I were the Avatar, capable of bending all four elements, would not have believed the news I heard today was real. After leaving for creative differences, the very same creators of the wildly successful series, ‘Avatar, The Last Airbender’ (2005-2008) and its equally stunning sequel series, ‘The Legend of Korra,’ Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will now be leading Nickelodeon’s ‘Avatar Studios’ a production studio under the auspices of Nickolodeon, dedicated to all things Avatar-related in media.
Avatar Studios will begin with an original animated theatrical film, set to start production later in 2021. After that, the plan seems to be to expand into a range of new content within the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. While this is all good news for many, it’s a grim development for Netflix, as their own adaptation is now facing some stiff competition following the exit of DiMartino and Konkietzko from the live action Airbender project at Netflix last August.
Where was the Executive decision to give the franchise to an experienced director who knew nothing about the series? Or how about the urge to make a new installment of the series without the original creators and have it be edgy and grimdark? Such interference appears to be on the fritz as the creators of the award-winning, genre-expanding, culturally-sensitive, and yet oh so very Human teen adventures of Avatar Aang and the slightly more adult and a tiny bit more racy, Avatar Korra, will be given whatever resources they need to produce more award-winning work.
The gods were kind and the executives were cunning, and instead of something no one wants, Nickelodeon is prepared to double down on a winning franchise and a dedicated production team. Talent like this doesn’t grow on trees and Nickelodeon is staking a claim, counting on the quality they have seen thus far continuing to bring in the ratings, the fans and the merchandising. Avatar Studios’ work will debut on Paramount+, Nickelodeon platforms, and unspecified third-party platforms. If Human nature can be subverted we may even get to enjoy their work in the theatres. Rumor has it, there first product will be a movie-length feature but where or when it is set and with what characters is anyone’s guess.
If I were them, I would create a film which would bridge the 70 year gap between the two series giving us the chance to see Avatar Aang’s cast of characters including Katana, Sokka, Toph, Zuko, Suki, Jet, Mai, and Azula grow up somewhere in that span of time. Then we can create an adventure which could connect the two periods, perhaps taking the older characters from Korra’s time and making them younger and less experienced. I wouldn’t want to count on taking another major time jump forward and hope they could maintain interest with a much older Korra, Asami Sato, Mako, Bolin and her large extended family. Seventy years would give them a world’s whose tech would rival our own.
Whatever Avatar Studio does, I am confident the energy and effort they put into it will build upon the creativity and synergy of their previous two series. I know they will delight another generation of benders, martial artists and dreamers who will become taken with their own Avatar; a character who will likely have a delightful cast of misfit friends, who will stumble into a world filled with excitement and relatable villains; individuals, who depending on where you’re standing, could believe what they are doing is right, even when it’s not.
I can’t wait to see what they do next. Maybe Avatar in SPAAAAAACEEE!!!
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.