Netflix’s live-action adaptation of The Last Airbender is still a big mystery. We know the animated series’ original creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino are directly involved, and we know they’re determined to avoid the pitfalls of M. Night Shyamalan’s reviled movie adaptation. We also know that the cartoon’s head writer Aaron Ehasz isn’t directly involved in this version — he’s busy with his own Netflix animated series, The Dragon Prince.
So when we spoke to Ehasz ahead of The Dragon Prince Season 2 release on Netflix, we had to ask about Avatar. Here’s what he had to say about what went wrong with the movie, how the live-action show can do better, and why he’s optimistic about the upcoming remake.
“I think it’s an opportunity for the fans,” Ehasz tells Inverse. “It’s definitely an opportunity for Mike and Brian to do a live-action telling of this story right, which I think is both going to be a combination of how they cast it, how they creatively cast it, who are the producers and writers involved.”
He also noted that beyond Konietzko and DiMartino, the live-action Avatar remake can also count on at least one more supporter from the original crew.
“The executive who is championing it at Netflix is Jenna Boyd, who was our executive on Avatar at Nickelodeon,” Ehasz says. “So it has a lot going for it.”
One of the toughest parts of bringing Avatar from animation to live-action is accurately capturing the balance of humor and drama that made the original series so great. Shyamalan’s movie never really figured out the comedy side of that equation, and the entire movie suffered as a result.
“Hopefully, also the tone,” Ehasz. “One of the things that was always hard about Avatar that I don’t think translated well to the movie was that it does have this balance in tone that it’s dramatic and epic and emotional, but it’s also funny and quirky and delightful. I think they’ll find that.”
More important of all, Netflix is giving Avatar’s creators the breathing room they need to tell their story the right way, again.
“I know, they have a big challenge ahead,” Ehasz, “but they definitely have more creative freedom, more support, and a better chance to tell the authentic story in a way that I think the fans of Avatar will enjoy.”
Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender is expected to release in 2020 or later.