What’s Wrong With Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender?


Recently released new Netflix hit series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” has been getting iffy reviews from critics as well as fans, but there’s one thing everyone can agree on, and that is it’s not as bad as the 2010 movie adaptation. It’s a very low threshold to beat, but hey, it’s still something!

Back in 2010, M. Night Shyamalan took a swing at adapting the first season into live-action, and let’s just say it didn’t exactly hit it out of the park. To be honest, it didn’t even hit the ball if we were to use the same metaphor. Between the backlash over casting choices and just not getting the story right, it’s often listed as one of the worst movies ever made.

When Netflix announced they were taking a crack at it, fans were cautiously optimistic, as it became known that the original show’s creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, were working closely with the writers. But later on, they both left the project due to “creative differences,” and we all know what that really means—Netflix’s writers were getting out of hand. 

So what exactly did the show get wrong? Let’s shed some light on Netflix’s most recent moneymaker.

1. The Dialogues

The dialogues in this show are just… ugh. It’s like the writers missed the memo on “show, don’t tell” completely. Instead of letting us feel the story through actions and nuances, they’ve got characters dumping lore and exposition left and right, dissecting their own feelings like they’re on a comfy therapy couch. There’s no room for subtlety or those little moments that speak volumes without saying a word. You know, the stuff that made the original series so great?

It’s like they skimmed through a Wikipedia page, sucked all the life out of the characters, and left us with droll husks, mostly. It doesn’t even get to the level of “it’s so bad it’s good.” And for a show that’s supposed to be all about character and relationships, this is a total train wreck.

2. Unnecessary changes

We all understand that no live-action is going to be a carbon copy of the original, so changes are inevitable. Taking into account that they’re trying to fit two seasons into eight or so hours, it’s only natural that certain scenes will be omitted or reincorporated, but sometimes they stretch it a bit with episodes like Omashu, trying to cram too much into one. What really makes the fans run rampant is how the showrunners completely miss the point of certain scenes. 

Take, for example, the scene with Zuko refusing to fight Ozai during their big Agni Kai. This moment is extremely important for Zuko’s character development, shaping his entire arc. It’s not just about the action; it’s about his whole journey, from getting banished to realizing what he stands for. And that scar? It’s like a symbol of everything he’s been through. But, of course, they had to throw in a fight scene there because fights are cool, right? You can’t mess around with stuff like that. And don’t even get us started on the Cave of Two Lovers fiasco.

3. It feels like arbitrary corporate nonsense

Just imagine a board meeting where Netflix execs are looking at a list of scenes they want to include because they either look cool or would win them PC points. At times, the show felt like they had some boxes to check, so they did it. If you don’t have fan service in your nerdy show, is it even worth making? So what if those alterations break the story or create plot holes, right?

It feels like the writers oversaturated the show with Easter eggs and all that good stuff because they knew they had one shot, and that strategy almost always works. They showed Wan Shi Tong and a lot of Azula for no reason, the war balloon was there too early, the dreaded Cave of Two Lovers was completely butchered, and they even added some bits from Legend of Korra! It’s the Cowboy Bebop disaster all over again. 

4. Conclusion

Of course, everything looks polished: the VFX, most of the CGI, costumes, sets, actors, etc. But it’s all fluff. The original is regarded as one of the best stories ever animated for a reason, and that reason is not surface-level fan service. The depth is gone. Netflix’s ATLA fails to recapture the magic of the original, and it does not work as a standalone show either. Mind-numbing dialogue, cardboard cut-out characters, unnecessary changes, and cinematography in certain scenes make the show feel quite mediocre. Thankfully, it’s not as bad as the 2010 version, and for that, it deserves your attention. Give the first episode a try, and if you hate it, there’s always the original series!