Writers of Last Airbender Have Dropped Ship on Netflix

Jacob Simonek, Writer

May 15 marked the day Netflix brought back to many households one of (if not the) best western cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender. This show skyrocketed up to #1 Most Watched Show on their platform. They held this distinction for 60 days according to Newsweek. That is two months on the top of the chart. This set a Netflix record-beating Ozark by three days. Netflix responded to the sudden uproar of praise and love with the addition of the sequel series, Avatar: Legend of Korra, and the announcement that they are working on a live-action show of The Last Airbender.

This is a red flag that has already been raised in the past for fans of the show. Red was flown above the skies for the fanbase in 2010 when the infamous Last Airbender movie came to theaters. This movie was covered in a shameful lack of character writing, inexcusable cultural appropriation, and overall reeked of being a rushed cash grab. A big self-thrown wrench in the gears of this movie was the exclusion of the writers of the show it was trying to imitate. Without the show’s heads helping and steering the filming in place, it was doomed to hit a wall.

Netflix started their announcement of the live-action show with the promise of including head writers Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko in the filming. This was a pleasant ray of hope in the otherwise storm that the fanbase feared was coming. That ray would fade on Aug. 12 when Micheal Dante DiMartino announced on his website, michaeldantedimartino.com, that he and Konietzko are no longer working on it due to creative differences as stated below:

I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn’t. I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.

Micheal Dante DiMartino

This type of situation has come up multiple times, in various media, including Avatar, as stated earlier with their 2010 movie. Big media companies like Disney, Nickelodeon and Netflix think they can take the product of another creator and force them into a corner where they either 

  1. Leave 
  2. Get Bought Out or
  3. Be Passive about it all.

You are considered lucky if you get the option of B, as George Lucas had and at least had Disney buy-out money to soundproof his ranch to not hear about how bad the latest Star Wars movies are. Sadly, DiMartino and Konietzko were only given the options A or C and they put their boots down and left. There is however option D which you can not take, nor can you control as a creator-fight it until you are dead and no longer can. Sounds pretty harsh, right? Well, Nickelodeon didn’t wait a year after Spongebob creator Stephen Hillenburg’s untimely death to go against his 19-year commitment of never having a Spongebob spin-off to greenlight Spongebob: Camp Coral.

These media titans think they can get away with this because they can! They can afford to buy bandwagons and run them six feet under because the worst that happens is they do not reach six zeroes but have to settle with five. The most we can do is sit back and refuse to pay or to even watch these bandwagon stinkers, but it’ll never end. At least we will get a new clown to laugh at when Avatar: The Last Airbender: Live Action: The Second Try comes out.