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‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’: 10 Things To Love About The Netflix’s Live-Action Adaptation

It's not perfect but Netflix's live-action adaptation of the hit animated series delivers in many ways.

By Marguerita TanPublished about a month ago Updated 28 days ago 6 min read
Top Story - March 2024
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'Avatar: The Last Airbender' [Credit: Netflix]

Great casting, brilliant production values and loads of mesmerizing water/earth/fire/air bending action, Netflix's live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender was easily one of the streaming platform's best new dramas of 2024.

Based on the hit fantasy action animated series of the same name (2005-2008) created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for Nickelodeon, Avatar: The Last Airbender is by no means perfect but it is definitely miles better than The Last Airbender, the insipid 2010 live-action film by M. Night Shyamalan.

In the Avatar world, there are four main nations—the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation and the Air Nomads—who used to live together in harmony. Each nation have people among them known as "benders" who can telekinetically manipulate one of the four classical elements—water, earth, fire and air.

Everything changed when the Fire Nation decided they wanted to lord over everyone else. Only the Avatar, the master of all four elements, could stop them but he vanished without a trace for over a century.

Just like the animated series, the Netflix adaptation begins with Katara, the last waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe, and her brother Sokko discovering a 12-year-old Aaag in an iceberg, the last surviving airbender and the Avatar in question.

With the siblings' help, Aaag sets out to master the four elements to save their war-torn world, while hotly pursued by Zuko, the exiled Fire Nation crown prince who is hell-bent in capturing the Avatar to regain favor with his father, Fire Lord Ozai.

Captivating and gripping, the live-action series has done so well in terms of ratings that in March 2024, a second and third season were announced.

In addition, albeit not related, an Avatar: The Last Airbender animated film, which will follow the exploits of a Team Avatar in their 20s, has been set for an October 2025 release.

Here are 10 things we love about the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series:

10 Things To Love about 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live-Action Series

1. Aaag

Gordon Cormier as Avatar Aaag, the last airbender. [Credit: Netflix]

As the titular character, the casting of Aaag was vital and the producers struck gold with young Filipino-Canadian actor Gordon Cormier (The Stand).

Not only does he looks the part of Aaag, Cormier is also compelling as he brilliantly exudes childish charms and adultlike maturity in equal measure.

2. Sokka

Ian Ousley as Sokka. [Credit: Netflix]

If there's one person who looks identical to his animated counterpart, it is Ian Ousley (Physical) as Sokka, Katara's older brother and the Southern Water Tribe "stand-in" leader after their father left to fight the Fire Nation.

A former martial arts champion, the American actor not only shine in action scenes, he also delivers Sokka's lovable characteristics and funny lines with ease.

3. Prince Zuko

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko. [Credit: Netflix]

Have to confess, I wanted the live-action Zuko to be tall and lanky, but American actor Dallas Liu (Pen15) won me over in no time with his portrayal of the Fire Nation's impulsive and short-tempered Crown Prince.

Whether he is behaving like a total brat, cowering in shame or struggling with empathy, Liu's impressive range of emotions is arguably one of the best things about the series. Not to mention putting his martial arts training to good effect during his firebending scenes.

4. Uncle Iroh

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Uncle Iroh. [Credit: Netflix]

Fire Nation General or Uncle Iroh is Zuko's nurturing uncle, wise mentor and moral compass in the young prince's life.

A fan favorite in the animated series, it is wonderful to see the food-loving yet powerful firebender brought vividly to life by Korean-Canadian actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, whom Star Wars fans know better as New Republic Captain Carson Teva in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.

5. Appa

Aaag and friends on Appa the sky bison. [Credit: Netflix]

Not gonna lie but if the show was not able to make Appa the flying air bison believable, it will be hard to embark with Aaag and his friends on their world-saving mission.

Thankfully, the flying ball of fur was not only incredibly real, he was super cute and reliable as always. Yip yip, happy with live-action Appa, we are.

6. Visually-Stunning Bending Effects

Kiawentiio as waterbender Katara. [Credit: Netflix]

For a show where many fighting techniques using the classical elements is expected, it was good to see that much thought and care went into making all the bending scenes looked natural but also mesmerizing to watch.

One great example is when the waterbending prowess of Katara, played by Canadian actress/singer Kiawentiio (Anne with an E), gradually grew stronger and more powerful before she culminates in a duel with the firebending Zuko in the Season 1 finale episode, "Legends".

7. Animated Locations Coming To Life

The elite Kyoshi warriors of Earth Kingdom's Kyoshi Island. [Credit: Netflix]

Among the many locations depicted in the animated series, two of the Earth Kingdom locates stood out in the live-action.

It was cool to see the elite Kyoshi warriors of Kyoshi Island, the adopted home of Avatar Kyoshi, clad in the distinctive outfits and war make-up of their animated counterparts.

Another thrill was the wonderful set design depicting Omashu's ingenious rollercoaster-like mail delivery system which is powered by earthbending and gravity.

8. Action Galore

Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim) with Princess Azula (Elizabeth Yu). [Credit: Netflix]

There are light moments aplenty but most of the Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes are packed to the brim with action, from benders and non-benders alike.

There are battles (both physical and emotional) on land, sea, air, underground and in the Spirit World. There is arguably not a dull moment in the series where you wished they would get on with it. Okay, perhaps the tedious tests set on Aaag by Earth Kingdom's King Bumi (American rapper Utkarsh Ambudkar) could be trimmed a tad...

9. Supporting Character Standouts

Arden Cho as bounty hunter June. [Credit: Netflix]

Truth be told, when I first saw Korean-American actress Arden Cho's Avatar get-up, I thought she would make a perfect Princess Azula. Alas, she was playing bounty hunter June who was hired by Zuko to locate the Avatar. Still, with her faithful shirshu Nyla, she was a standout.

Besides Chinese-American actor Ken Leung (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as nasty Commander Zhao and Singaporean actor Lim Kay Siu (Anna and the King) as Aaag's kindly mentor Master Gyatso, veteran Japanese-American actress Tamlyn Tomita (The Joy Luck Club, Cobra Kai) was also a standout as Yukari, the strong-willed mayor of a Kyoshi Island village and mother of Kysohi warrior Suki (Maria Zhang).

10. The Cabbage Guy

James Sie reprises his role as the Cabbage Merchant, [Credit: Netflix]

Last but not least, it was great that the writers kept the animated series' most funny running gag in the live-action adaptation.

With American voice actor James Sie reprising his role, the Cabbage Merchant is an unlucky Earth Kingdom sod whose cabbages are constantly destroyed by Team Avatar and their enemies, from Omashu to Ba Sing Se.

It's never not funny to hear him scream "My Cabbages!" each time calamity strikes his beloved vegetables.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 1 is streaming exclusively on Netflix.

Read also:

* 'Blue Eye Samurai' - A Visually Stunning, Action-Packed Adult Animated Series From Netflix

* 10 ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Elements In ‘Ahsoka’ That Spark Joy

* 5 Classic Studio Ghibli Films That Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Boy And The Heron’ Will Fondly Remind You Of

* ‘Demon Slayer’ To ‘Chainsaw Man’: The Anime That Wowed Us In 2022

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About the Creator

Marguerita Tan

A freelance writer who loves God, movies, music and TV; esp Star Wars, Animation/Anime, GOT, The Wheel of Time, and anything that's entertaining! X/Threads/ISG: @marfield49

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (4)

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  • ss (Dedicated to True Love And Humanity)29 days ago

    also was very much enticed by the music of it. Who else also felt that.

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    So happy this received Top Story recognition! Well done!

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    What a delightful breakdown of standout moments and actors. My husband is the Avatar fan, but I so very much enjoyed watching the series to date with him. I saw ignore the naysayers and tune in!

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