The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Avatar re-done

The newest live adaptation of Avatar: The Last Air Bender has been released on Netflix and new changes are leaving fans on the fence.
Graphic by Tillie Szwartz ’25


The highly anticipated Netflix adaptation, Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA), was released on February 22. Expectations were high, and critics were watchful ever since the 2010 Paramount version of ATLA. The Paramount production was given a rating of 5 percent by Rotten Tomatoes and 4/10 on IMDb. This was mostly due to terrible CGI, a bad storyline, and subpar acting. From then on, Avatar enthusiasts raised the bar higher for future adaptations. In light of this, the Netflix live action adaptation was, without question, a huge success.

First, fans started to criticize the adaptation before the release. This was due to the founders leaving the production. Executive Producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko published an open letter explaining how they “couldn’t control the creative direction of the series.” Fans were worried Netflix would ruin what they deemed a piece of their childhood. Zuzu Bissell ’25 recalls “[the animated series] was the best part of [her] day.”

The original television show consisted of great storytelling, visuals, and comical characters. They made it clear this wouldn’t be the same as the original. Showrunner Albert Kim stated it “was a conscious decision to show people. This is not the animated series.” After all, this is an adaptation. As Rhys Kling ’26 puts it, “it [is] more of a homage to the original than a direct replacement.”

Aside from the CGI, the acting was incredible. Each actor reflected the true nature of their characters, be it Iroh’s chillness or Zuko’s hot temper. Star lead Gordon Comier was able to bring out the child-like nature of his character, Aang. He balanced his playful nature and maturity. Kiawentiio Tarbell, who played Katara, brought the gentle nature of her character. However, Aang seemed more like a twelve-year-old and Katara seemed like a sixteen-year-old. It would have felt strange if they were together. But that isn’t all Netflix took out the character. Sokka is known for being misogynistic in the original but eventually changing over time and matures, which, in my opinion, is great character development. While there is justification for taking this out, they failed to replace this with any other good character development. Juliana Messinger ’24 mentions how they lacked “character development that is essential to the nature of the original show.” Other notable characters include Elizabeth Yu as Ty Lee, Joel Oulette as Hahn, Yvonne Chapman as Kyoshi, and James Sei as the iconic cabbage merchant. However, there unfortunately wasn’t a sign of Toph throughout.

The series also felt rushed, as there were only eight episodes, each being about an hour long. Messinger mentions the “show [felt] lost with its connection to the original.” Several key stories were shoved into one episode. In episode three, for instance, viewers watch King Bumi get reunited with Aang, Jet expose a spy in Omashu, and Teo, who befriends Aang, see his father exposed as working for the Fire Nation. While it was interesting to see Netflix merge these events together, it seemed like they just wanted to get the show over quicker.

While this adaptation does contain the same plot, it doesn’t follow the same format as the original. However, that still doesn’t make it a bad series. Netflix definitely did a great job transforming a childrens’ animated show into a live action series for both kids and adults, new fans and old. This ultimately goes to show, as seen with other Netflix adaptations that nothing can ever beat the original.

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