Live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender finds its Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko
Water. Earth. Fire. Air... and boomerang!
It's time to meet our live-action Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko as Netflix announces the main cast for the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series.
Gordon Cormier will star as the Avatar himself, the airbending prodigy Aang in the show, which is now being showrun and executive produced by Albert Kim. Kiawentiio Tarbell (who just goes by Kiawentiio) will play waterbender Katara, and Ian Ousley will play her brother Sokka.
And now for their pursuer. Dallas Liu will play Zuko, the firebending son and Crown Prince of the Fire Nation hellbent on tracking down and capturing the Avatar.
The creators of the original animated Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, dropped out of the live-action adaptation, noting that they lost control of the creative direction. This new casting now comes with a lengthy note from Kim, who expresses his passion for the property and getting hooked on it through his daughter.
He mentions that "a live-action version would establish a new benchmark in representation and bring in a whole new generation of fans. This was a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in."
Director M. Night Shyamalan previously developed a live-action Avatar movie, The Last Airbender, which got dogged by fans for many reasons, one of which was the lack of authentic casting. This Netflix series seems to be a clear course correct in that regard.
"I also knew what I didn't want to do. I didn't want to change things for the sake of change," Kim continued. "I didn't want to modernize the story, or twist it to fit current trends. Aang is not going to be a gritty antihero. Katara is not going to get curtain bangs. (I was briefly tempted to give Sokka a TikTok account though. Think of the possibilities.)"
He further teased that the show will be "expanding and growing the world" and offering and "surprises for existing fans and those new to the tale."
"But throughout this process, our byword has been 'authenticity.' To the story. To the characters. To the cultural influences," he added. "Authenticity is what keeps us going, both in front of the camera and behind it, which is why we've assembled a team unlike any seen before—a group of talented and passionate artists who are working around the clock to bring this rich and incredibly beautiful world to life."
Cormier's Aang is described as "a fearless and fun-loving 12-year-old who just happens to be the Avatar, master of all four elements and the keeper of balance and peace in the world. An airbending prodigy, Aang is a reluctant hero, struggling to deal with the burden of his duties while still holding on to his adventurous and playful nature." He definitely sounds like the Aang fans are familiar with.
Katara, meanwhile, is the "determined and hopeful waterbender, the last in her small village. Though only 14, she's already endured great personal tragedy, which has held her back from rising to her true potential, though it's never dimmed her warm and caring spirit."
Further character summaries peg 16-year-old Sokka as "sardonic and resourceful," "outwardly confident, even brash."
As for Zuko, he's "currently roaming the world in exile," as is on par with the original. "He's on an obsessive quest to capture the Avatar because he believes that is the only way to reclaim his life and live up to the demands of his cruel and controlling father, the Fire Lord."
Dan Lin, Lindsey Liberatore, and Michael Goi executive produce Avatar: The Last Airbender, while Roseanne Liang co-executive produces. Directors on the series include Michael Goi, Roseanne Liang, and Jabbar Raisani.