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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

Review: Netflix’s Avatar adaptation is far from the original, but still good

After an attempt and failure to recreate this beloved animated series, the newest one isn’t too bad

The Avatar, some think of the blue cat people of Pandora from the James Cameron films but there is another Avatar series that resonates with others. In 2005 Avatar: The Last Airbender the animated series was released on Nickelodeon. 

The show is set in a world where it’s divided between four nations with each having people that can control one of the four elements. The four nations align with their element, The Fire Nation, The Earth Kingdom, The Northern and Southern Water Tribes, and The Air Nomads. 

Taking place around the 19th century as well the entire world is some sort of Asian culture. Another main difference of the Avatar world is that there is a spirit world that connects both the real and spectral worlds.

Avatar is the protagonist of the show and the world. While also being the bridge between the spirit and the human world. As well as having the ability to control all four elements.

Coming out in 2005 with the intent to entertain children on Nickelodeon but became something way more. Throughout the show, many life lessons would go over many kids’ heads at the time but after rewatching it at an older age can be something very impactful. 

Spanning three seasons, this kid’s show conveys what war can do to people of many backgrounds. It covers many aspects of reality such as sexism, racism, and war but also conveys the togetherness of all things. The ability the writers had to explain such complex problems in a kid’s show is what makes it a masterpiece. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender being so popular acquired a movie to be directed by M. Night Shyamalan in 2010. This movie was a live-action movie trying to bring the magic of the show to reality. Unfortunately, most found it to be a terrible adaptation as the whole first season was condensed into one movie. Shyamalan Avatar movie also had some changes to characters like the pronunciations of their names that severely aggravated fans.

Recently Nickelodeon partnered with Netflix to create the 2024 live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Many fans concerned with having another live-action would butcher the original as the 2010 one is considered the movie that shall not be named among the community. 

With the animation version, there were many freedoms that it had such as the controlling of the elements but as the 2010 adaption showed it can be tough to implement in live action. One of the best things that the 2024 adaption does is the CGI on the elements as well as on the spirits.

When promoting the show, it was made clear that it was an adaptation and not a remake. Again this concerned many fans but on the other hand, it was something new that was much loved. The main discrepancies in it add a bit to the lore of the show.

The pacing of the show was significantly different. The first original season was 20 episodes long and around 24 minutes long each where as the new adaptation is 8 episodes around 55 minutes long. Making the pacing a little rushed and some of the stories to be combined. 

A main factor that changed was the characteristics of the protagonist which took away the room for growth and character development. Aang is tasked with being the Avatar but as the role requires going against the air nomad way he has been taught all his life he runs and doesn’t want to become the Avatar. In the original Aang was devoted to becoming a fully realized Avatar as well as having fun while doing it but after some trials of life, he regrets being the Avatar and becomes a more serious character. 

Another main discrepancy was the sexist undertones that a few characters had. One of the supporting protagonists, Sokka, undermines his younger sister as well as other female characters throughout the show. Sokka, being a 14-year-old boy not knowing any better, gains experience throughout the show and recognizes the strength that the female characters can possess and even learns under them. The 2024 adaptation completely overhauls that characteristic of Sokka and takes away his character development. 

Some choices that were made are very different from the original. The main villain Fire Lord Ozai, voiced by Legend Mark Hamil, was not shown until the 3rd season. Only hearing the main protagonist’s voice once or twice and not seeing his power built up the suspension throughout the show. In the live-action Fire Lord Ozai, now played by Daniel Dae Kim, was shown predominantly in the first season of the show. 

At the same time Azula, the main villain of season two, takes more dominance in the first season of the 2024 adaptation. As well, showing Azula more makes us understand her and feel her perspective more. The original steering away from Azula’s perspective gave her some kind of mystery and added more to her insanity.

The 2024 adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is an entertaining watch and good as a stand-alone show. To someone who has watched and grown up with the original, the newer series does not live up to the hype. Most consider the original a masterpiece and hard to copy but Netflix has confirmed that there will be a second and third season. 

Netflix adaptations tend to not be the best but for this Avatar adaptation was better than most expected. Again, some were scared that this adaptation would be a recreation of M. Night Shyamalan’s poor adaptation. The 2024 season is not the original but is still a good watch. 

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Shawn Williams, Advocate Staff

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