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Original 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' creators exit production of live-action adaptation

Ian Biong

Inquirer.net/Asia News Network

 /  Fri, August 14, 2020  /  05:08 pm
Original 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' creators exit production of live-action adaptation

Writer/director Michael Dante DiMartino attends the Nickelodeon: 'Legend of Korra: Book 3' panel during Comic-Con International 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 25, 2014 in San Diego, California. (AFP/Ethan Miller )

The creators of the all-time favorite animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender will no longer be working on its upcoming live-action adaptation due to creative differences.

Michael Dante DiMartino penned an open letter to the fans of the beloved series to share the news, explaining that he and co-creator Bryan Konietzko, after two years of development work, “made the difficult decision to leave the production”.

“When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series,” DiMartino recounted.

“And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped,” he stressed.

An open letter to Avatar: The Last Airbender fans: Many of you have been asking me for updates about the Avatar...

Dikirim oleh Michael Dante DiMartino pada Rabu, 12 Agustus 2020

DiMartino, who admitted that “productions are challenging” and that “unforeseen events arise,” noted that his plans needed to change.

“And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on,” he said.

The creator said that heeding the advice of Uncle Iroh, a wise and beloved character from the series, he “looked inward and started asking myself the big question: ‘Who are you and what do you want?'”

“I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn’t. I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project,” DiMartino disclosed.

He shared that it was the hardest professional decision he has ever made, but noted that it was necessary for both his happiness and creative integrity.

Read also: Singapore-based animation studio launched in Jakarta

DiMartino, however, said that the said streaming service’s adaptation still “has the potential to be good,” saying, “It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying.”

“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,” he clarified.

DiMartino assured fans, however, that his exit from the show “doesn’t mean the end of my involvement in the Avatar universe.”

“These stories and characters are important to me and the renewed interest and excitement in Avatar and Korra has been inspiring to see,” he said.

DiMartino also admitted that writing the said open letter left him with a “very heavy heart,” knowing that many fans will be disappointed upon hearing the news.

“I get it. I share your disappointment and frustration. I also recognize this creative setback is small compared to the problems we’re all facing as a society right now,” he stressed.

Fortunately, DiMartino was able to find some relief in the words of Uncle Iroh once again, quoting the character, “Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving you will come to a better place.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the most popular Nickelodeon shows that ran from 2005 to 2008. The series paved the way for a series of graphic novels set in the same universe and the follow-up series Avatar: The Legend of Korra.

The upcoming series on the said streaming platform will be the second live-action adaptation attempt following the M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender film in 2009, which flopped in the box office for apparently failing to live up to the source material. 

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This article appeared on the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post