Fan hopes were high when The Last Airbender movie was first announced. That high seemed to peak then, as the film spiraled into what is now one of the most hated films of the last decade. Seven years have passed, and a new Avatar series has since graced Nickelodeon's airwaves. While the show certainly had a great run, many believe a live-action movie would never get made due to The Last Airbender's failure, and quite possibly be just as irreverent a movie as the first. However, I believe a Korra film could be a saving grace to a franchise we thought lost, and here's why.
1. M. Night Shyamalan Will Never Be Invited Back
As much as I enjoyed Split and The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan is not the director to approach when adapting from another medium. Unfortunately, Shyamalan underestimated the age of his audience and the level of maturity needed to bring the source material to the film.
In a 2015 interview, Shyamalan admitted that he made the film for a much younger audience than probably should have foreseen:
"It's really weird because on the show the average age was, like, nine-years-old. My child was nine-years-old. So you could make it one of two ways. You could make it for that same audience, which is what I did -- for 9 and 10-year-olds -- or you could do the Transformers version and have Megan Fox. I didn't do that."
An unrealistic target audience, as well as blatantly lazy errors with basic name pronunciations and other easily fixed issues, has made Shyamalan one of Hollywood's most hated directors among fans, evening winning him a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director in 2010. It's safe to say the Indian-American director will not be involved with any future developments in bringing the four nations back to the big screen.
2. Reboot Versus New Story
Some might argue that rebooting The Last Airbender would be the ideal step in bringing the Avatar franchise back to the big screen, but unfortunately this isn't the case. While Spider-Man might be the exception to the rule, few executives are eager to reboot a massive blockbuster in the same decade as its predecessor without taking major creative changes to guarantee a better result than the former.
Instead, it might be wiser to encourage a Korra live action adaptation and hope for its success until the world is ready to revisit Aang's beloved adventures. This decision could honestly pan well with fans, following in the footsteps of nerd culture giants such as Lord of the Rings with the The Hobbit prequels or Star Wars revisiting Episodes I-III after the completion of IV-VI.
3. Korra Was Made for One Season
Unlike the 20-episode first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra was originally made to be a standalone 12-episode miniseries. This means that a #Korra movie would not have to spend time sowing the seeds for a sequel movie that may never come to fruition. The season had a singular imposing mysterious masked villain, Amon, and his political following and terrorist group known as the Equalists. Every episode has a singular focus on solving the new threat, giving a new director much easier source material to work with.
While fans of Korra felt the first season rushed to a conclusion — which many believe was due to rumors that the show may not be renewed for a second season — a film adaptation could solve pacing problems and even give viewers a better experience than the original.
4. Redemption For Racebending Controversies
Can you think of three action movies from the past decade with a non-white female lead? I personally can't name one. #TheLastAirbender suffered from a rather extensive whitewashing controversy even before the film came out. Despite most every Water Tribe character of the cartoon being of Inuit descent, Katara, Sokka, and much of the Water Tribe were played by caucasian actors. Zuko and the rest of the fire nation villains are the most prominent people of color in the movie, but notably of the director's own Indian ethnicity.
The Legend of Korra, in comparison, is a celebration of diversity, and leaves race a bit more open-ended for some characters. Republic City, the setting for most of the first season, is a culturally blended scene drawing influence from New York City in the 1920s. For the first time in the four nations, a city exists that is a melting pot of all four nationalities. For example, Mako and Bolin are introduced as the show's first multicultural bending brothers, both being able to bend a different element than the other.
While casting Korra as an actress of color would be an obvious expectation, and those in charge would do well to cast more (any) Asian actors in primary roles, audiences might be more forgiving of racial casting decisions given that many of the characters are multicultural as long as there is diversity and appreciation for Asian and Inuit cultures.
5. Avatar Is A Proven Profit Franchise
In spite of earning an embarrassing 6 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, having to defend against extensive race controversies, and staring a release weekend with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Last Airbender still managed to earn $319 million — more than double its $150 million production cost. To executives, it would make sense to try a different chapter in the same universe under different direction, and with a new vibe and world to take on than the former.
What do you think? Should Paramount give a Legend of Korra film a chance?