Netflix has announced the cast of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series.
The streaming giant deserves a round of applause for bringing together a group of actors that are culturally accurate.
Essentially, the complete opposite of the white-washed/inaccurate mess that was the 2010 M. Night Shyamalan-directed monstrosity.
Taking to Instagram to share the headshots of the series’ leads, Netflix revealed that eleven-year-old Filipino-Canadian actor Gordon Cormier will star as Aang, the Avatar.
Fourteen-year-old Kiawentiio (a musician and actress of Mohawk descent) will play Katara, a young waterbender who first meets Aang while on a fishing trip with her brother Sokka.
Sokka will be played by sixteen-year-old Ian Ousley, a Cherokee actor best known for his role as Robby Corman on 13 Reasons Why.
damn, avatar the last airbender live action casting is pretty good so far pic.twitter.com/gt31o5aqNY
— tuonto (@Tuont0) August 15, 2021
The series’ villain, Prince Zuko, will be played by seventeen-year-old Dallas Liu, an American actor of Chinese-Indonesian descent.
Known for his role as Jin Kazama in the 2010 movie adaption of the fighting game, Tekken, Liu will also be seen on the big screen in Marvel’s upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Albert Kim — the series’ showrunner, executive producer and one of its writers — delved deeper into why he wanted to adapt the show and his team’s decisions for casting the actors.
“[When watching the show with his daughter] … I found myself sucked into the world and characters, and soon we were watching side by side, both of us swept away by the singular mix of action, humor, and epic storytelling,” Kim wrote.
“It also wasn’t lost on me that this was a world that drew from Asian cultures and legend … Finally, a live-action version would establish a new benchmark in representation and bring in a whole new generation of fans.
“This was a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in.”
most are POC we really won this time
— jien (@mishirinn) August 12, 2021
According to Kim, the live-action show will follow “an ongoing serialized narrative”.
In other words, character arcs and storylines from the animated series will be expanded upon and will be explored more thoroughly.
Before anyone thinks that the show will be an exact retelling of the original series, Kim has promised that old and new fans will be equally surprised by what’s in store.
“We’ll be expanding the world, and there will be surprised for existing fans and those new to the tale.”
Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon from 2005–2008.
Often coined as one of the greatest animated shows of all time, the series is set in a world where some people are born with the ability to manipulate (or “bend”) one of four elements: water, earth, fire and air. The Avatar can “bend” all four of them.
The air date for the live-action series is currently unknown.