Everything we know about the Avatar: The Last Airbender remake so far: Creators, casting, and more
There’s never a bad time for Avatar: The Last Airbender. We need Aang’s wisdom, humor, and flaming-hot dance moves more than ever, so when Netflix announced a live-action remake in 2018, fans, of course, freaked out. As the first TV adaptation of the beloved Nickelodeon series, and with a flock of new fans after the series came to Netflix in May, the anticipation is high.
We know you have endless burning questions about everything from the show’s release date to new canon, so we’re here to answer them.
Who’s behind the remake? Why should I trust them?
We all have reasons to be skeptical considering what happened when the series was adapted to the big screen. But the Netflix series is in good hands: original creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino will helm this project as showrunners and executive producers.
The series is rounding up other original stars too. Jeremy Zuckerman, the composer for Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel, The Legend of Korra, will score music for the new show. And Konietzko revealed on Instagram that he’s hoping to involve Dante Basco, a.k.a. the voice of Zuko, in “multiple ways,” just not as his original character. One of the few actors to appear in both ATLA and LOK, Basco is a huge fan of and advocate for the franchise and we’re excited to see how his involvement pans out.
EW has also learned that Dan Lin is an executive producer on the new series through his Rideback banner. He’s produced The Lego Movie franchise, both chapters of It, the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., Netflix’s Death Note adaptation, and more.
When is the Avatar remake coming out?
You’re going to have to hold your horses for this one. COVID-19 did a number on the series’ timeline, as it did for every other TV/film production. The remake was expected to debut sometime in 2020, but 2021 may be a more realistic date.
What’s the story going to be about?
According to the first announcement, it seems like the series will cover the same ground as the original and follow Aang’s quest, along with his friends Katara and Sokka, to save the world from Fire Lord Ozai. It remains to be seen just how much the new series will explore the events before or after the timeline covered in ATLA.
Who's in the cast?
We don't know yet, but the creators said in a statement that the show will have a “culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast,” which means none of the nonsense that plagued M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 adaptation.
However, the creators have not confirmed whether the show will cast actors representative of the cultures that helped inspire the show's fictional ethnic makeup. For instance, it remains unclear whether Native actors will play members of the Water Tribe, which was influenced by Native cultures like the Inuit and Yupik, or whether Fire Nation characters like Zuko and Iroh will be played by East Asian actors since its society heavily featured Japanese and Chinese elements.
Similarly, Earth Kingdom roles would ideally go to East Asian actors. Jessie Flower, who voiced Toph in the original series, said the creators told her they’re focusing on “Northern Asia and like Southeast Asia for the Earth tribe and Fire Nation," although this remains speculation until Netflix officially comments.
The Air Nomads, like Aang and Gyatso, were culturally and visually based around Tibetan Buddhists, Shaolin monks, and Hindu priests, so their casting might focus on East Asian and South Asian actors.
Last January, Konietzko said his team would hold an open casting call. In an update this March, he said they were still in the development/pre-production stage, and asked fans to be patient. Flower has also said the child actors will be age-appropriate and be between 10-15, which means the performers for Aang (12), Toph (12), Katara (14), Sokka (15), will be close to their characters’ real ages. Again, Netflix has yet to officially comment on Flower's claim.
Where will the live-action Avatar be filmed?
There has been some speculation, fanned by Flower’s comments, that the remake will film in Canada (perhaps for the Water Tribe?), but that hasn’t been officially confirmed yet either.
When will we see trailers and posters for the show?
There’s been no news on that end either. The only concept art we’ve seen came with the original Netflix announcement. It was a gorgeous image of Aang and his sky bison Appa surrounded by ice and mountains.
So... what do we not know?
At this point, what we don’t know trumps what we do. A premiere date, title, and basically everything else has yet to be revealed. Until we get more info, we’ll just leave you with Konietzko's words:
"We’re trying to make something special that will stand the test of time," he wrote on Instagram last May. "We can assure you that everyone is making good use of that time so we can craft something beautiful and emotionally powerful. Also, so we can make sure Appa is cute."