A Humble But Intriguing Proposal For a New 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Series

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender /

No one has really been able to successfully recreate the magic of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) animated series or the sequel series, The Legend of Korra. Both were wonderful pieces of work that used a premise aimed at a younger audience to push forward fairly adult messages about power, life, and the view of oneself. Both were smash hits, which naturally means that somebody was going to try and make more money off them.

That leads us to the first and only Avatar movie that doesn't involve blue people. M. Night Shyamalan made the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action movie, and it is widely recognized as his worst piece of work as a director. I won't dedicate any more of this article to that terrible, terrible film. It was, frankly, mildly offensive how badly he butchered it.

The animated series enjoyed a revival of sorts when it was released on Netflix a few months ago, which led to excitement for the planned Netflix live-action series that had been in production for years. The original creators were on board. Optimism was born. Until it was put down by the original creators announcing they were leaving production because they didn't like what was being done to their work. In an open letter to fans, creator Michael Dante DiMartino said, "But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”

So that sucks! It means the series is going to be bad, again. It's possible to make a good series using the foundation ATLA put forth, as The Legend of Korra proved. But people with the money and resources to make such a series seem extremely committed to the live-action method and keep chasing away the men who made it all possible in the first place. Therefore, let me be the first to modestly suggest a new series, one that will be animated (as it should!) and build off what ATLA and The Legend of Korra established.

Hear me out: a Cold War-era Avatar series. The Legend of Korra took place in a 1920s-type environment, so it would be the next logical step in the timeline that doesn't involve a world war (which was kind of the plot of ATLA, so it also wouldn't be recycling storylines). The creators can use all the tension between the United States and Russia as a basis for tension between the elemental nations that make up the Avatar world. Then introduce characters either closely or loosely related to the original series characters.

I really don't think they can go wrong here. It would be mildly repetitive to use the Fire Nation as the big, bad empire, but the Cold War setting would at least change things up from the global domination thing they had going in ATLA. Advance the technology appropriately. We don't need it to be modern, but even in ATLA, which gave off pre-industrial era vibes, the Fire Nation had flying ships. There's a lot of room to get creative with how each of the nations differ with their technology based off the mastery of the four elements. As long as the Avatar himself or herself isn't walking around with an iPhone, they can get pretty modern with it.

The Avatar is tasked with keeping peace in the world. Other than in times of outright war, there's no more difficult time in history to keep everyone from killing each other than the Cold War. Weapons of mass destruction obviously do not have to be nukes, but it can't be that hard to think of some kind of world-ending weapon that the Fire Nation cooked up considering how close they were to doing just that in ATLA.

We all want a good Avatar series, man. Stop with the live-action shenanigans. Let the original creators put their heads down and go to work on something they have complete creative control over and are passionate about. It's a huge-money maker. This would be a great way to capitalize. I need no points on the stock or revenue share. I just want to immerse myself in that world again. Please, for me and the millions of others like me, just do this.