Avatar: The Last Airbender has had a rocky road to the screen. After the first live-action adaptation of the beloved animated show, M Night Shyamalan's 2010 movie, failed to ignite audience imaginations, hopes turned to a new Netflix reboot.
It had all the right ingredients this time around, including the involvement of the original creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, before everything hit a roadblock. In June 2020, they announced they were leaving the series and, as its showrunner Albert Kim tells SFX magazine in the new issue, which features Halo season 2 on the cover, this was almost the end of the line for his involvement as well.
"There was a moment where I stepped back to think, 'What is this going to look like without them involved?'" Kim says candidly. "I felt very confident in the direction that we had charted. Netflix was also very enthusiastic about where we were going with everything, so it felt organic to continue with the show, even after they left. But it wasn’t easy."
Not a subscriber to SFX? Then head on over here to get the latest issues sent directly to your home/device!
"There definitely was a moment of like, 'Wow, it’s gonna be tough,'" Kim admits. "I would have loved to have them as people I could talk to and consult, and collaborate with. But again, that was a personal decision on their part. After that happened, it was just about moving forward as best we could, and what we felt was best for the project."
Luckily though, the showrunner adds that his time on the project with DiMartino and Konietzko allowed him the chance to pick their brains at least. "I was really thrilled to ask them everything, from even outside of what the show’s going to be about, and just my own personal interests having followed the show for so long," he adds of their talks together. "It was a blast being able to do that. And then we started to talk about what the show should be and could be."
Starring Gordon Cormier, Dallas Liu, Kiawentiio, Ian Ousley, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Elizabeth Yu, and Daniel Dae Kim, the new Netflix series tells the beginning of this beloved story. It follows Aang, the last living Airbender able to bend all four elements, as he is faced with the colossal challenge of maintaining the balance of the world and nature amid constant threats.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is released on Netflix on February 22. The above is just a snippet of our interview, available in the latest issue of SFX magazine, which features Halo season 2 on the cover and is available on newsstands from Wednesday, January 24. For even more from SFX, sign up for the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.