Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have both decided to step down from their positions as showrunners and executive producers for Netflix’s upcoming The Last Airbender live-action remake series, DiMartino shared in his personal blog today. The culprit: those pesky creative differences.
DiMartino and Konietzko actually left the project in June 2020, after two years of having done development work on the show. Netflix officially announced the project in September 2018, with production planned to start in 2019. However, they then delayed it to 2020, and a little particle with spikes on it delayed everything involving multiple people in one space shortly thereafter.
“Look, things happen,” DiMartino wrote in the post. “Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change. And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”
As expected, DiMartino doesn’t ever go into what exactly those creative differences were, but it can be gleaned that something about the show, whether it was its script, casting, direction or something else entirely, wasn’t to either DiMartino’s or Konietzko’s liking.
Co-creator Konietzko had slightly harsher words about how they reached the decision to leave.
“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,” Konietzko wrote in an Instagram post. “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.”
Both DiMartino and Konietzko agree that although the vision of Netflix’s series dramatically contrasted their own, they’re not saying it’s doomed to be a disaster.
“Who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good,” DiMartino wrote. “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.”
Not exactly a glowing recommendation, but not a complete write-off, either. Hopefully it will end up being better than The Last Airbender’s disastrous 2010 movie adaptation, but then again, that’s among the lowest bars one could set for any piece of media.
Both creators also stress that this doesn’t mark the end of their involvement with the Avatar universe. They both intend on creating content surrounding both The Last Airbender and its sequel series Legend of Korra, although what that will be remains to be seen.
For those who want to rewatch the original series, The Last Airbender is currently available on Netflix and CBS All Access. Its sequel series, The Legend of Korra, starts streaming on Netflix this Friday.
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