Everything We Know About Netflix's Live-Action 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

This isn't the first live-action remake of the beloved children's series.


When Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of the greatest animated series of all time, came to Netflix in May of 2020, the people started asking: What’s up with that new live-action series they were talking about? In 2018, Netflix announced that it would be retelling the story of the Gaang with real people, and fans were immediately piqued. They were also a little worried, and with good reason: M. Night Shyamalan directed a legendarily horrendous live-action film adaptation of the first season of the series back in 2010 that included one memorable scene where a team of powerful earthbenders move a pebble across the screen. But there are still plenty of ways for a live-action version of this story to be good, and at least now Netflix has a primer of what not to do. Here’s everything we know about Netflix’s live-action Avatar series so far. 

When is the live-action Avatar series coming out?

Netflix announced its plans in 2018. As it still appears to be in planning stages, there is no release date yet. Production was originally planned to start in 2019, and then announced that it would happen in 2020, but given how the coronavirus pandemic has halted production on everything, we’ll definitely have to wait a little longer. At least this gives them more time to perfect it! 

Which characters will be in it?

We can expect to see all the major players-Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Zuko, Iroh, Azula, Firelord Ozai, etc.-but since it hasn’t been cast yet, we don’t know who else will make it into the series, whether it’ll combine some minor characters, or if it’ll take some out entirely. Hopefully, Cabbage Man makes the cut.

Will it follow the original story?

As far as we know, yes. The original Nickelodeon show was set in the fictional world of the Four Nations, each corresponding to a certain classical element, and each home to “benders,” those who could psychokinetically manipulate one of those elements using martial arts. Only the Avatar, a reincarnated human, could master all four elements and keep the balance of the world. One hundred years before the series begins, the Fire Nation attacked the other three, subduing the Air Nomads and one of the Water Tribes, and began a decades-long war after the Avatar vanished. In the first episode, waterbender Katara and her brother Sokka discover the missing Avatar, the only surviving airbender named Aang, in suspended animation in an iceberg, and help him on his journey to learn the rest of the elements and defeat the Firelord. 

The original series was separated into three seasons, or “books,” of 20 episodes each. The show may follow this format, releasing three seasons that follow the events of the original, maybe with longer episodes and skipping over the weaker one-shots (“The Great Divide,” anyone?). 

Who is in the cast?

Since the show is still in pre-production, there haven’t been any cast members announced yet. The good news is they’ll be especially looking out for people of color. Shyamalan’s movie was derided not just because it was bad, but because the majority of the main cast was white. The show is set in a conglomerate world built upon East Asian, New World, and Inuit influences-none of which contain any white people. Original series co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko were very clear about this in a statement from 2018: 

“We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building.” 

Konietzko did reveal on his Instagram (above) that he was looking for a way to involve Dante Basco, one of the most recognizable voice actors in the game who played Zuko in the original show, in the remake somehow. Basco also reprised his role for Avatar‘s sequel series The Legend of Korra, but Konietzko says he won’t be playing Zuko in this series-they’ll be casting age-appropriate actors for that. 

Who else is involved?

Original series creators DiMartino and Konietzko were originally going to executive produce the show, but in August 2020 both announced that they had left the project in June, citing creative differences with Netflix and vague reneged promises. We’ll probably never know what exactly was the final straw for them, but it all sounds pretty damning, especially for a company like Netflix, which has traditionally kept very hands-off of its own productions. Some suspected it had something to do with the network’s original promise to cast all non-white actors for the principal roles, and fans even called to boycott the series back in August. 

The original show’s voice cast, during a virtual reunion panel, questioned the point of the live-action show, with Dee Bradley Baker (who voiced Appa and Momo) asking, “I’m open to whatever they do with the live-action series, which I know nothing about, but it’s like, ‘Well, how do you do this better than the way that it was rendered on this show?’ I don’t know how you do that! I hope you can.” They discussed M. Night Shyamalan barring DiMartino and Konietzko from having any creative input in his movie, and Olivia Hack (who voiced Ty Lee) said, “Especially when you’re doing the exact same series, but as a live-action. You’re not adding onto it or expanding the universe. You’re doing the same thing, which feels redundant, but I don’t know.”

Composer Jeremy Zuckerman will return to compose the music. Jan Chol Lee, who worked on Disney’s Big Hero 6, among others, is a concept designer for the series. Dan Lin (The Lego Movie, It, Sherlock Holmes) will be executive producing. Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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