Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang
February 22, 2024 7:51 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

This is about the 2024 live-action series on Netflix with the same name as the original animated cartoon. An airbender comes to grips with his new reality as war erupts. A century later, a pair of Water Tribe siblings make a discovery that changes everything.

This episode covers three of the episodes from the animated series:
The Boy in the Iceberg
The Avatar Returns
The Southern Air Temple

Based on the reviews, I assume that most of the interest in this show will come from people familiar with the source material; as such, I think it's fine to discuss what's ahead (broadly) with out what's ahead specifically to the Netflix show.
posted by miguelcervantes (26 comments total)
I'm not sure I can watch this series without reflecting on the original. Here, I missed the banter between Katara and Sokka ("Have you ever smelled your dirty socks? Not pleasant!") The live-action Katara appears much more reserved. When she announced, "I am a warrior," I really didn't believe it.

Gran-gran reciting the opening of the old series ("Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked") did not land well with me. It seemed unnatural. Why include obvious call-backs when everyone who will "get it" likely knows it by heart already.

That said, I'll keep an open mind for the rest of the series. It will be nice to see Suki again.

(Am I wrong, or did I spot turtleducks in that opening scene? I'll need to keep an eye out for details like that.)
posted by SPrintF at 8:28 PM on February 22

Ooof... this was .. as a big fan of the animated series.. this (2nd) live action adaptation, is not for me.

We shall not speak for the first M. Night attempt.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:36 AM on February 23

posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:55 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Avatar: The Last Airbender is everything that’s disappointing about Netflix’s live-action cartoon shows
Netflix’s live-action Avatar has its heart in the right place, but its pacing and uneven performances leave a lot to be desired.

Isn’t This Supposed to Be Fun?
Right out of the gate, Netflix’s Avatar fails to answer the big question facing any adaptation: Why does this exist?

Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender is everything fans hoped it would be
The hugely anticipated remake delivers on the drama, charm, and spectacle of the original.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:38 AM on February 23

As a middle-aged person who first watched the original a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but didn't imprint on it, and hasn't seen the abomination of a prior attempt, this has been "fine" so far, but hasn't crossed the threshold of "this definitely needed to be made" for me.

I thought the narrative choice of showing the Fire Nation's plans of attacking the air temples first and tying in the relevance of the comet from the very beginning made sense.
posted by LionIndex at 5:57 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Is there a reason studios fixate on live-action remakes rather than on live-action spin-offs of animated properties that use the setting and IP?

It seems like it would avoid most of the problems of these curious remakes. Or maybe there's just too much risk aversion these days.
posted by kewb at 6:27 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Hi, we got a request to update this show to the 2024 Live Action version and I believe that has been done. Let us know via the Contact Us form still needs to be done and if so, please be specific as the mod on duty may not know the history and lore of the show.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:00 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I watched it and thought that it was OK. I did like them showing that attack on the air temple. I thought that in the cartoon, they had a couple of years for AAng to train and learn the other elements. In this one, Gran Gran said that the attack was 100 years ago, so I think that means that the comet's due back this year? I dunno how well they'll handle the time compression.
posted by Spike Glee at 8:21 AM on February 23

I've only watched bits and pieces of the original. My youngest son, who absolutely loves the cartoon and has watched every episode multiple times insisted we all watch this together.

I enjoyed it and my wife enjoyed it. My eldest son who was never all that into the cartoon thought it was okay. My youngest son thought it was hot garbage and wouldn't stop complaining about everything that was wrong throughout the entire episode.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:53 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

This is already has way too much explicit violence to show my kids. A guy gets burned to death on-screen within the first five minutes! WTF, Netflix.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:42 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]

The “why does this exist?” graph for every live-action remake of a cartoon has two axis: one is labeled “cluelessness of execs”, and the other is labelled “money”. I bounced off this pretty early, despite really trying to like it - partly it was the violence, but mostly it was the massively clunky storytelling, like when Aang turns to appa and says “but I want to be a child doing childlike things”.

What’s weird is that they could have done avatar Kyoshi, or any number of other avatars. But Kyoshi is named in the first ten minutes; she also has a book series which was decent and fits within the milieu. And you wouldn’t have had to deal with child actors who haven’t been given good material. But no, execs remain clueless.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:54 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I’d rather watch the live-action Ember Island Players.
posted by sixswitch at 4:41 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]

I have never watched the original. But, for me, this isn't clicking - the acting and dialog don't work for me - and... things seem to be missing "grit" - the sets and costumes are all "brand new", no wear & tear - so, it feels "cartoony", which well - I guess is ok, but that kind of defeats the whole premise of a "live action/lived-in-world" remake. But - I don't want to yuck anyone's yum, it's just not for me.
posted by rozcakj at 5:15 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge fan of the original and after watching the first two episodes it's fine for what it is. Did it have to be made ? No, but at least it seems to be made by people who know the original show. And thank god it's not anything like the awful live-action movie.
posted by Pendragon at 2:50 AM on February 24

I'm holding off on watching this until someone can tell me if the "my cabbages!" guy is in it.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 4:57 AM on February 24

mrjohnmuller, I am happy to be the bearer of good news! Not only is he in it, but he's played in live-action by the same actor who did the voice in the animated series.
posted by MrBadExample at 8:07 AM on February 24 [9 favorites]

I'm 5 episodes in, and I'm feeling like the series is a mixed bag. The production values are extremely Netflix Original Series. I also think they could be more creative with the fights and the bending--it's not quite Shyamalan-level, but I was hoping for something more dynamic.

On the other hand, the cast is pretty good. I especially like Dallas Liu. He really sells the idea that Zuko is just a poor hurt, confused kid doing what he thinks he has to, much more so than the animated series did.
posted by MrBadExample at 8:23 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]

I'm 5 episodes in, and I'm feeling like the series is a mixed bag.

Yep, finished the season, and feel pretty much the same way, and I think my earlier comment about how it's "fine" but not "necessary" still works for me. I think I mostly hew pretty close the Ringer's assessment (review covers the whole season, but largely avoids spoilers), which also seems to be in line with MrBadExample's.

If you're extremely Catholic about maintaining every bit from the original series in the same order without allowances for episode count or runtime, this won't be for you, but I think there are things this does better than the original and things it does worse, for various reasons - some of it is the casting, some the inability of live-action to match up with animation. But, we're in a time when "live-action" is largely just animation of a different sort with CGI, so the more fantastical elements are still animation, and I think it just comes down to how well they did it. Generally, I think the characterization and interpersonal interaction bits work better in the live version, the bending is not so impressive, but some of the more large-scale fantastic full-CGI things work better.

It's interesting for me though, that if you told me they were doing a live-action Avatar a few years ago, I would have thought "why do that?" and I think that's still true; but if you told me they were doing a live-action (but obviously heavily CGI'd) Korra, I'd be "oh, hell yes". Car chases, giant mecha, kaiju battles, and the potential grittiness of the bending battle arena stuff, with more adult actors - seems like you'd get a lot more bang for your buck there and there'd be a real benefit from doing those with real lighting and (some) real surfaces rather than the sterility of a cartoon.
posted by LionIndex at 9:59 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]

Plus, with Korra you could make her explicitly bisexual from the start these days.
posted by rikschell at 11:39 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]

I think part of the reason I feel just a little let down is that Netflix set a pretty high bar with One Piece. I think if they'd put a new spin on bending like they did the Devil Fruit powers it might have worked better.

Anyway, I think we all know that this is all just marking time until Toph shows up.
posted by MrBadExample at 12:53 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

I've never watched the original cartoon so coming into it totally blind. Just finished all 8 episodes and thought it was great.

The acting from Gordon Cormier is super impressive for a 12 year old. The performance he turned in is an entire class above what the cast of, say, Harry Potter turned in at the same age, or almost any other big budget movie with a child lead. Big points for that alone.

The fight scenes and CGI were gorgeous. There have been some truly terrible action scenes in recent TV series (eg child Leia escaping from her kidnappers in Obi Wan). The fight scenes here are worthy of full budget movies. The climatic final battle was suitably epic.

There are some low points as well, the whole Azula arc seemed unconvincing - it seems like she'll replace the (now dead?) Zhao as the antagonist in season 2? The whole slow reveal of Zuko's character was good, I wish Azula's was treated the same way.
posted by xdvesper at 9:44 PM on February 29

At first, I was not super thrilled by the new show, and

Gran-gran reciting the opening of the old series ("Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked") did not land well with me. It seemed unnatural.

Agreed 1000%.

I think this show is better when it lets itself be its own thing, and the farther we get into the first season, the more moments and mini-arcs it has to do this. (My family does not necessarily agree with this. The kids were extremely gratified/pumped by the appearance of the cabbage vendor. "When do we get to see Toph?" they asked. "Yeah, when do we get to see Toph?!" my partner asked. "Well, she shows up in the second season...")
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 4:41 PM on March 3

I've watched 1.5 episodes and initially thought I would be rating this exactly at 3.6 Roentgen, not great not terrible (YT) (FanFare).

But more than a week has passed and I have had no urge at all to go back to finish episode 2. So now I think this was pretty terrible actually. The main problem, as I now see it, is the writing. It really sucks, and I wish they had spent some of that shiny production money and special effects money on paying better writers. The bad writing removes 90% of the tension from the show on every level: between the characters, within the characters' psyche, between the show and the viewer.

- Iroh isn't denying Zuko instruction in advanced forms or telling Zuko he needs to concentrate on the basics. So Zuko isn't really frustrated with Iroh.

- In this show, Zuko seems rather deskilled in his people-finding abilities and Iroh is giving him tips on how to gather intel from people in the market. WHY?? In the original Zuko is an obsessed maniac with people-hunting skills to match his obsession, while Iroh sits around being subtly obstructionist through the clever use of ... influencer-style self care (spa day! calming tea!).

- Sokka and Katara don't argue much? because Sokka isn't sexist and immature and infuriating at all. I mean, I'm not married to Sokka being sexist and then later not, like, I get it, okay, they wanted to make Sokka just cool and unproblematic. Fine. But find something else to replace the missing tension between Katara and Sokka!

- Aang isn't being avoidant and playful at all, what the fuck? He doesn't wilfully run away because becoming the Avatar freaks him out - he just goes on a "walk" to calm down and gets caught in a storm. He doesn't want to jaunt off to ride the giant koi, he says he wants to go to Kyoshi Island to connect with the spirit of Kyoshi instead. Like... come on, people, this shit is integral to both his characterization (his avoidance and playfulness are inappropriate for the Avatar but totally appropriate for the child that he is; this creates internal conflict and eventually personal growth) AND THE PLOT (the whole reason Zuko finds it so hard to track Aang is because Aang is on a random bucket-list-style pleasure trip, nothing so logical and guessable as a focused quest to earn his Avatar powers!)

What next, a Toph who isn't even angry, or a Toph who is just an orphan who never needed to run away from her parents? Because that would be of a piece with the choices currently being made by these writers. I'm not a purist, and I am often quite happy with adaptations that veer away from the source material - but that's when it's done for good reasons, to enhance the final product. This is plain bad writing. Such a shame.

The only quibble I had about any other aspect of the show is that Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Iroh) is somehow coming across as fake and has a sort of high-school-drama-student energy in his portrayal of Iroh? Like, you can see him trying to hit his lines instead of entering into the energy of the scene or reacting to the other actors. Wouldn't be surprised if they filmed his scenes totally separately and green-screened him in. Possibly the child actors had different work schedules than the adults... IDK. That's the best explanation I can think of. He's a fantastic actor normally.

I fucking love the kid who plays Zuko. He is easily the highlight of episode 1. I "buy" him and his intensity crackled. I haaaaaaaate that the writers (those fuckers again!) missed the chance to make him say HONOR when the chance was right there omg!
posted by MiraK at 10:47 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]

So....is this the show season 1 thread or the episode 1 thread, because this will guide how much info I drop.
posted by Atreides at 7:44 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]

Atreides, I see some folks discussing the whole season here, so might as well.
posted by MiraK at 4:21 AM on March 6

I just finished watching this with my younger kid yesterday. We both enjoyed it but were never really into the original series, we've seen some of the episodes and know in broad strokes what happens but couldn't give you details or say when things are supposed to happen, so if the Netflix show has moved the order of things around or made other changes it wasn't really noticed by us.

We started watching the cartoon today and my kid was laughing that the show looks so old.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:03 AM on March 11

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