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Live-action Avatar debuts on Netflix

Netflix brings to life Nickelodeon’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ in the new adaptation of the animated fantasy action series, writes JASON BANNIER.

The new live-action adaptation of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender comes to Netflix today (22 February 2024).

The show is set in a realm where human civilisation is divided into four nations: Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads. Within each nation, individuals called benders possess the ability to telekinetically manipulate and control the element aligned with their nation, using movements influenced by the techniques of Chinese martial arts.

Only one being, the Avatar, has the extraordinary power to bend all four elements. After the current Airbender passes, a member born into a different nation will become the Avatar. They are tasked with keeping peace among the nations.

Under the protection of Avatar Roku, the four nations lived in harmony. However, this balance was disrupted following his demise. The Fire Nation, led by Fire Lord Sozin, launched an assault on the tranquil Air Nomads, marking the beginning of The Hundred Year War—a century-long conflict driven by the anticipation of the Avatar being born as an airbender. The young Avatar Aang survives, but is trapped in an iceberg, both physically and mentally. This leads to the pivotal event in which two members of the Southern Water Tribe find The Last Airbender in his icy cage.

In the live-action series, Aang is portrayed by Gordon Cormier. He is tasked with restoring balance to the world after his newfound allies waterbender Katara and boomerang-wielding Sokka, played by Kiawentiio and Ian Ousley, find him in his frozen state. Their quest involves mastering the four elements and facing the formidable Fire Nation threat led by Fire Lord Ozai and the relentless Crown Prince Zuko.

Cormier says: “Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action is going to bring everything you know and love about the original series back to life. And hopefully [it will] just bring a bunch of new fans who have never heard [of] the show before into this universe, and to me that’s pretty exciting.”

The cast includes Dallas Liu as Zuko, Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Uncle Iroh, Elizabeth Yu as Azula, and Ken Leung as Commander Zhao. The world of Avatar also features Amber Midthunder, Arden Cho, and Danny Pudi.

The 2010 film The Last Airbender faced harsh criticism for its animation, and deviation from the original TV series. However, the new Netflix series features superior visuals, and Cormier’s comments inspire confidence in the adaptation staying true to the original story.

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