Avatar: The Last Airbender is a series that means a whole lot to its fans. For many, it was one of the first animated series to feature a serious and serialized story. While it was still very much a show for kids, it didn’t talk down to them and fully respected their ability to follow an ongoing narrative. This was back in a time when episodic television was still very much the status quo — especially in animation. So, when it was announced in 2018 that there would be a live-action Netflix series.
Given the subject matter, Avatar: The Last Airbender would make a great live-action fantasy series. But that wasn’t all. Netflix also hired Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the showrunners of the original series, to take on the adaptation. With that move alone, the series gained a lot of good faith from fans. But, after all this time, there hasn’t been any real update on the series. Until today. And, I’m sorry to say, it’s not a positive update.
Co-showrunner Michael Dante DiMartino recently took to social media to share some solemn words.
“I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved in the project. In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.
“When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”
DiMartino goes on to say that, after realizing they didn’t have full control of the series, they realized they had control over one thing: their involvement in it. He states that the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series could go on to be something great, but that it won’t be his and Konietzko’s vision.
Konietzko made his own statement on Instagram. He minced fewer words about the process.
“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. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. Though I got to work with some great individuals…the general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“To be clear, this was not a simple matter of us not getting our way. Mike and I are collaborative people; we did not need all of the ideas to come from us. As long as we felt those ideas were in line with the spirit and integrity of Avatar, we would have happily embraced them.”
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Well, friends… there you have it. Big sigh. 💔⬇️💔 I’m sure many of you will understandably want to know more and will ask me questions in the comments, here and on subsequent posts and live-streams and in-person encounters and everywhere else ad infinitum. I wish I could explain things in greater detail, but the above statement is really all I can say about the matter so I won’t be answering any of those. I encourage you to head over to my partner Michael DiMartino’s account to get his take on our departure too: @mike_dante_d Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, and I’m sorry our involvement in the live-action project did not work out. Time to get on with my life. Onward and upward. 💙 Love, Bryan #avatarthelastairbender #cocreators #michaeldimatino #bryankonietzko #bryke #atla #liveactionseries #netflix
So, yes. This is a sad day for Avatar: The Last Airbender fans. Unlike many instances when creatives leave, it doesn’t feel like this duo left Netflix on good terms.
Personally, I am interested to see where the clash in creative ideology came. Perhaps, with a bit of distance, we will eventually get the full story, but I’m interested to see if Netflix will give an official announcement. If so, I wonder if they will announce who will be taking over, assuming it actually gets made.
How do you feel about the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series losing its showrunners? Sound off down below!
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SOURCE: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko