Avatar: The Last Airbender
This has little to do with comics, beyond those issues of Nickelodeon Magazine, but I’m such a fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series that I couldn’t resist posting the first official teaser for M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation.
The movie has at least three things going against it: the difficulty inherent in making the leap from animation to live action; the casting, at least initially, of white actors in the four central roles; and Shyamalan’s spotty track record.
But I admit that this 1 minute and 41-second teaser looks, well, if not promising then … not awful. I never thought I’d say that.
Comics creator Derek Kirk Kim comments on the casting choices for the The Last Airbender movie. While the setting of the cartoon the movie is based on is “wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture,” white actors have been cast in the roles of the four main characters:
Before I go any further, it behooves me to spill some information on “Avatar, the Last Airbender” for those people who have no idea what it is. 1) It’s the greatest, most ambitious animated action adventure TV series ever hatched in the U.S. A cartoon series for kids in which one epic story actually spans 3 entire seasons. A kid’s show in which the characters actually grow and change and evolve! A cartoon which actually respects a kid’s intelligence and vast imagination. Imagine that! 2) It’s wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!—it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks—traditional Korean clothing—the design of which wasn’t even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show’s intentions and origins to think this wouldn’t extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don’t see any blonde people running around in “Avatar.” (I’m not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I’m just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.)