On the side of the Fire Nation, we have Arden Cho (Partner Track) playing the bounty hunter June, Momona Tamada (Secret Headquarters) as the whimsical Ty Lee, and Thalia Tran (Raya and the Last Dragon) as the “unflappable” Mai. We’ll also see Utkarsh Ambudkar (Ghosts) as the Earth Kingdom’s ruler Bumi, Amber Midthunder (Prey) as the Northern Water Tribe’s Princess Yue, and Danny Pudi (Mythic Quest) as the Mechanist.
Even Star Trek’s George Takei gets a role in the show as the unsettling spirit, Koh. Netflix also confirmed that James Sie (Stillwater), the voice actor behind the perpetually unlucky Cabbage Merchant, will reprise his role in the live-action series. You can see the full list of cast members on Netflix’s site.
We may not have a trailer yet, but at least I can tell that the streamer’s attempting to stay close to the show’s roots. Showrunner Albert Kim explains that the series is “a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in.”
As a longtime Avatar fan, it’s a bit of a relief to see some thought put into character casting, as Avatar fans have already been burned once by M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 live-action The Last Airbender film. With that said, I still do have some reservations when it comes to the series itself. Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the original creators of the Avatar show on Nickelodeon, announced their departure from the Netflix series in 2020 after finding they “couldn’t control the creative direction of the series.”
“Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying,” DiMartino said in a letter to fans at the time. “But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”
Netflix still hasn’t announced the release date for Avatar, but we likely won’t see the series until at least next year. In other news on the Avatar front, Nickelodeon’s currently working on an animated film centered around Aang and his friends and is also partnering with Paramount on three Avatar films — both projects will, thankfully, involve DiMartino and Konietzko.