Avatar: The Last Airbender's Avatar State is Getting a Big Change in the Netflix Series
The animated series' ultimate ability is getting tweaked in the live-action adaptation.
Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is attempting to prove you can adapt the classic Nickelodeon animated series without falling into the mistakes of the past. But with that task comes trying to reshuffle the plot to make it more conducive to a high-profile streaming series. Ahead of the remake’s release on February 22, the showrunner just revealed a huge change from the animated series — but it’s all according to a bigger plan.
In a conversation with IGN, Avatar: The Last Airbender showrunner Albert Kim revealed that Aang’s ultimate power, known as the “Avatar State” will be changed to make its impact on the story greater.
“We actually don't see Aang going into the Avatar State as much in our first season as they did in the animated series because we wanted to make sure that it felt very special," Kim said. "We wanted to make it very clear that Aang could only access that state in a specific set of circumstances. We actually tweaked the rules a little bit from the original series as to when and how he can access that state."
The Avatar State is the most powerful ability Aang uses in the series. It’s a transcendental state that allows the user to access the powers and strength of all the past Avatars, and appears throughout the series when Aang is in dire need of help. If Kim is to be believed, that need will have to be far more dire in the live-action series.
While it may seem like sacrilege, this change does make sense from an adaptation standpoint. Though animated TV and live-action TV may seem like a direct translation, there’s a definite shift in structure. The animated series consisted of several self-contained episodes that could be told in 22 minutes, while the live-action series’ first season only has eight episodes.
Because of the lower episode count, every twist and turn needs to feel earned and special — if Aang went into the Avatar State as often as he does in the animated series, it wouldn’t pack as much of a punch when it’s really needed.
Avatar: The Last Airbender was first made as an animated series that was enjoyable even if you caught a random episode while channel surfing. Now, it’s being made into a series that’s designed to be watched from beginning to end — and that means some minor tweaks to the story we love.