While a lot of the IPs have been distributed to the various streaming services currently in existence, Netflix was sure to nab the few they could fly under their banner. One of those is the new Avatar: The Last Airbender, which will be a live-action reimagining of the Nickelodeon cartoon of the same name. For those unfamiliar with the series, there are people who could bend one of four elements at will: air, fire, water, and earth. But an Avatar is one who can control all four. And now, Netflix has announced the main cast of the series.
GORDON CORMIER (he/him) is AANG (12), a fearless and fun-loving twelve-year-old who just happens to be the Avatar, master of all four elements and the keeper of balance and peace in the world. An airbending prodigy, Aang is a reluctant hero, struggling to deal with the burden of his duties while still holding on to his adventurous and playful nature.
KIAWENTIIO (she/her) is KATARA (14), a determined and hopeful waterbender, the last in her small village. Though only fourteen, she’s already endured great personal tragedy, which has held her back from rising to her true potential, though it’s never dimmed her warm and caring spirit.
IAN OUSLEY (he/him) is SOKKA (16), Katara’s sardonic and resourceful 16-year-old brother. Outwardly confident, even brash, he takes his responsibility as the leader of his tribe seriously, despite his inner doubts over his warrior skills… doubts that he masks with his wit and deadpan sense of humor.
DALLAS LIU (he/him) is ZUKO (17), a skilled firebender and the intense and guarded Crown Prince of the Fire Nation. Currently roaming the world in exile, he’s on an obsessive quest to capture the Avatar because he believes that is the only way to reclaim his life and live up to the demands of his cruel and controlling father, the Fire Lord.
Gordon Cormier, Kiawentiio, Ian Ousley, and Dallas Liu join as series regulars.
Netflix has also confirmed that Albert Kim will serve as showrunner and executive producer of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Kim joked about how his daughter’s addiction to the show is entirely to blame for him joining the project. While she may not have been old enough to track the narrative of the original animated show at the time, she consistently came back every week to watch new episodes, and so he helped her give a better sense of what was going on.
He also addressed how the show drew from Asian cultures, which was a pretty big deal for representation in an animated show that had such a huge multicultural following.
“It also wasn’t lost on me that this was a world that drew from Asian cultures and legend, which is a rarity to this day and something I appreciated as an Asian-American father. That my daughter was able to see characters who looked like her on-screen was more than just entertaining. It was a gift.”
He later added:
“A live-action version would establish a new benchmark in representation and bring in a whole new generation of fans. This was a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in.”
And the casting of Asian and Inuit actors for Netflix’s live-action take is a breath of fresh air as Paramount’s live-action film failed to accurately capture the characters that inspired it. Of course, the show did have a few bumps in the road with creative differences between the streaming service and the original animated series creators. But it looks like Netflix’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is finally headed in the right direction. Let’s just hope it can stay that way.
Stay tuned for future Netflix Avatar: The Last Airbender announcements!