The Last Airbender amassed a huge following on Nickelodeon when its first episode premiered over 16 years ago. The story of Aang, a young Airbender, uniting with two Water Tribe siblings, and the exiled son of the Fire Lord, as he returns from being stuck in time resonated with people both young and old. Following Aang’s journey as he learned how to master the elements in preparation for his fight with the aforementioned Fire Lord was a masterclass in storytelling, and so many incredible stories were woven into its 61 episode runtime.
At the height of its popularity, a live-action film was inevitable. M. Night Shyamalan was enlisted to bring the story to life, with Noah Ringer as Aang, Dev Patel as Prince Zuko, Nicola Peltz as Katara, and Jackson Rathbone, fresh off his role in Twilight, as Sokka. It was promptly ravaged by critics despite it earning more than double its budget. Like the Water Tribe, Avatar fans have been waiting for news of Aang especially after the incredible Legend of Korra. Well, the wait is almost over, as Netflix announced the core cast for a live-action remake of the cartoon in August of this year: Gordon Cormier (Gabby Duran and the Unsittables) as Aang, Kiawentiio (Beans) as Katara, Ian Ousley (Physical) as Sokka, and Dallas Liu (PEN15) is Zuko. Today, we have even more casting news.
Thanks to our good friends at The Illuminerdi, we now have word on what roles the showrunners are looking to cast.
First up, it seems, is General Iroh. For Avatar fans, that name will mean a lot as he is who counsels Prince Zuko into joining with the Avatar instead of doing his father’s bidding and who has one of the most heart-wrenching stories when he is recounting the Battle of Ba Sing Se. His character description describes him as a “now retired, but once top athletics coach in the country. Known for his tough coaching and winning record he’s calmed since his retirement and takes the time to smell the roses and taste the pleasures in life.”
Up next, they are looking to cast who can only be Azula. For those who don’t remember her, she is the Princess of the Fire Nation and a firebending prodigy who manages to produce blue fire when battling Zuko in the later seasons. While she doesn’t play a big role in season one, she plays an integral role down the stretch and is the perfect foil for Prince Zuko. This character is described as a person who “has been training her entire life to live up to the legacy of her father. She inherited his single-mindedness and ambition and like her father has developed a ruthlessness that she exerts toward anyone she sees as competition, including her own family.”
Lastly, we have the Fire Lord himself, Lord Ozai. Described as an “intense and steadfast CEO of a major corporation with perfectionist standards that he believes everyone around him should live up to. Infamously willing to sacrifice everything to gain power including his marriage. He sees it as his duty to groom his teenage children to see the world as he does and to be just as ruthless.” Ozai abused Zuko and then exiled him, took the throne without a challenge from General Iroh, and ruled over the world while Aang was frozen. Think the Mandarin to Shang Chi, and you’ll have an idea.
This is all exciting news for fans of the cartoon, as a lot of us were hoping something would be done to redeem the series after the terrible job done by M. Night. As of right now, release is tentatively slated for the 2022 Holiday season.