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StoReviews: “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Live Action


In the past few years many live action adaptations of beloved media have come out. From Aladdin to Percy Jackson, we have seen how these adaptations can be wonderful or terrible to watch. There are many reasons why live action adaptations succeed or fail, but in this article I will break down my thoughts on the live action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” show that was recently released by Netflix. 


As someone who found the original cartoon version of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series brought me a lot of comfort and entertainment during a time when I was very isolated from society. These characters and story arcs became so near and dear to my heart. So, when I heard it would get a live action adaptation, I was both excited and terrified. The excitement was because I got to see my favorite characters all over again. However, wondering if the already perfect story of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was gonna be changed terrified me. 


The live action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Netflix adaptation has been in the public eye for a while now with many rumors about its development. These rumors made me feel suspicious of what would become of my favorite series, but now, as I’ve watched it, I’ve quite enjoyed the new series. Before I sing the show’s praises, though, I find it necessary to outline the parts of the show I found not so wonderful. 


First, I think they could have done better on some of the characters’ costumes. As an avid lover of mise-en-scene in films, it made me sad to see some of the characters like Mai, Ty Lee, and Yue have outfits and hair that looked very much like Halloween costumes. Now, not to say that I didn’t enjoy the way the costumes were accurate to the cartoon show, but I feel like the costuming team could have done a better job to make a compromise between realistic clothing and have the same vibrancy of the cartoon designs. In my opinion, it was really the hairstyles on some of the characters that threw me off because they looked much different than in the animated show. The casting for the live action adaptation was great, but some of the costumes and hair made me question which actor represented which character. 


The change in character’s personalities and plotlines frustrated me. Maybe I should have expected this, with many Netflix show adaptations like “Shadow and Bone” and “Heartstopper” making significant changes to the source material, but it was still jarring. Plotline details like Sokka’s whole character arc of him learning to respect women was left off the show, Iroh and Zuko being separated far too early, and Katara’s fiery temper being removed entirely made me miss the storytelling from the old show. 


The action scenes left a lot to be desired. Showing a lot of exposition for a fantasy series always seems to be a problem nowadays, with writers not knowing how to demonstrate what happened to cause the story without feeling like they are info dumping, and I feel like this adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is no exception.


All in all, I really enjoyed the first season of the show and do hope we get another season. The acting and casting was spectacular. There were just a few hiccups in the show’s writing and design that I think could have been changed.

Juliet Stouffer
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