The creators of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, announce their exit from Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the show. The critically acclaimed and beloved Nickelodeon cartoon ran for three seasons from 2005-2008. This year the Avatar fanbase had a breath of life breathed into them, when the iconic show was added to Netflix this summer (and The Legend of Korra this Friday). Due to recent popularity over Avatar and the anticipation over Korra, it laid the perfect foundation for Netflix’s upcoming live-action show. But when Avatar fans needed DiMartino and Konietzko the most, they vanished.
Netflix’s live-action was announced in 2018, and was intended to bring back DiMartino and Konietzko. However, the original creators have now revealed they’ve departed the Netflix series. In an open letter, DiMartino announced he and Konietzko have exited the production of Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action TV show. Though DiMartino doesn’t explicitly state the reasons for his and Konietzko’s exit, he infers it came down to creative differences between the writing partners and Netflix. He wrote
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. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped. … And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. 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.
Konietzko reiterated the sentiment that they left due to their belief they wouldn’t be able to bring their true vision for the project to life at Netflix. He wrote
When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago, they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. Though I got to work with some great individuals, both on Netflix’s side and on our own small development team, the general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.
The news comes as a disappoint to fans (new and old) because they were extremely crucial to the success of the original cartoon. So is the live-action doomed? Frankly, it’s hard to say. Netflix may see the large popularity Avatar brought and want to execute it well, it could be a great addition to the Avatar’s legacy. But, this isn’t our first rodeo. Konietzko and DiMartino weren’t involved in The Last Airbender movie and it ended up being a massive failure, many fans (including myself) don’t even acknowledge it. So they’re lack of involvement is concerning. We’ll just have to wait and see. Is it too late to ask Avatar Roku for advice?