Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender Controversy Explained

What was behind the controversy that led fans to question many aspects of the Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender in the live-action series (meditating) and in the animated series (angry.)
Photo: Netflix/Nickelodeon

“We will have no involvement in the project moving forward. We ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series.”

This 2020 Instagram post from Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) co-creator Bryan Konietzko set off an explosion whose shockwaves are still being felt to this day. After the 2018 announcement that the original creators of the beloved animated series would take the reins of a Netflix live-action series, the Instagram post left massive questions in its wake. Questions still on the minds of fans everywhere, a controversy that won’t go away, as Netflix finally releases their live-action ATLA series.

What happened between the original creators of ATLA and Netflix? Why aren’t they involved in the live-action series anymore? What does this mean for both that series and any animated ATLA projects moving forward? To answer those questions and more we trace the long history of this controversy.

2018: The Live-Action Series Is Announced

In September 2018 the original ATLA animated series had been finished for over 10 years, with sequel series The Legend of Korra bowing out four years previously. While new graphic novels were being released it was a relatively quiet period for ATLA. Suddenly, it was announced Netflix had ordered a live-action series.


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