First look at cast of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series
Three years in the making, the reboot aims to “showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people”, says the writer and producer.
Netflix has just announced the four main leads for its live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The new TV reboot of the beloved Nickelodeon series will feature Gordon Cormier as Avatar Aang, described as a “reluctant hero” with an adventurous nature. His companions Katara and Sokka will be played by Kiawentiio Tarbell (who goes by Kiawentiio) and Ian Ousley, respectively. Lastly, Dallas Liu will play firebender Zuko.
This comes almost three years after Netflix first announced the adaptation of the award-winning animated series back in 2018.
At the time, the news was met with hesitation from fans, given that M Night Shyamalan’s 2010 live-action film adaptation was widely criticised for whitewashing its characters.
However, Netflix’s new casting signals a shift towards representation in line with the show’s Asian and Indigenous elements.
The remake’s writer and producer, Albert Kim, expressed that this was a conscious effort by the show’s creative team.
“It also wasn’t lost on me that this was a world that drew from Asian cultures and legend,” he wrote in a Netflix blog post on Thursday (Aug 12).
“A live-action version would establish a new benchmark in representation and bring in a whole new generation of fans,” Kim added. “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."
While Netflix initially brought on the creators of the original animated series, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the two dropped out in August last year due to disagreements over the show’s creative direction.
Nonetheless, fans can still expect to see the Avatar they know and love in the upcoming series. "We’ll be expanding and growing the world, and there will be 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,” Kim wrote.