Long ago, in 2005, Nickelodeon aired the first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fans were introduced to Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s animated series along with the Four Nations and a world of vibrant characters. The epic fantasy followed Aang’s journey from a playful, 12-year-old into a powerful avatar who mastered the elements with the help of his friends and allies: Katara, Sokka, Zuko, Toph, Momo, Appa and Uncle Iroh.
The award-winning show spawned a collection of print books and comics attached to the original and was adapted into a 2010 live-action film. But Netflix is bringing it to the small screen in a new way that showcases all forms of bending, supernatural creatures and the spirit world. At the heart of the story, however, are all the characters working to bring peace to a war-torn realm where the Fire Nation has caused so much damage.
Set to premiere this month on Netflix, the latest version of Avatar: The Last Airbender is executive-produced by Albert Kim, who also served as a writer, alongside Jabbar Raisani, Dan Lin, Lindsey Liberatore and Michael Goi. The cast features Gordon Cormier as Aang, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Kiawentiio as the water-bending Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Uncle Iroh and Elizabeth Yu as Azula. Not to be left out, James Sie is returning as the Cabbage Man.
Here is what else we know about the upcoming series, including the release date.
When to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix
The show will debut with all eight episodes on Netflix on Thursday, Feb. 22. Rather than stream short episodes like the original, the new series will drop hour-long episodes that are family-friendly. However, the titles are different from what we’ve seen with the animated show:
- Into the Dark
- Spirited Away
- The North
If you want to watch the animated series before, during or after this version, all three seasons are also available on Netflix as Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3. You can also stream the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, on the platform.
What is Avatar: The Last Airbender about?
Based on the story created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, Avatar: The Last Airbender is a fantasy series set in a world with four clans: the Fire Nation, the Water Tribe, Air Nomads and the Earth Kingdom. Aang is an adolescent child who awakens from a deep slumber after 100 years, and must learn who he is as the master avatar. Not only have the Four Nations been at war, but without the avatar, everything is out of balance in the physical and spirit worlds.
Aang feels alone as his tribe, the Air Nomads, have been exterminated. He finds friendship with teenagers Katara, a waterbender, and her brother Sokka, and meets others along the journey who help him understand not only his elemental powers, but how to navigate growing up. Not everyone in the story has bending abilities, but once he masters waterbending, airbending, firebending and earthbending, he can stop his adversary Fire Lord Ozai from taking over the world. The avatar state shows Aang at his most powerful — which can be helpful or harmful.
The series taps into Asian and Indigenous traditions and folklore, packs in laughs and emotional storylines, and carries the characters through war, dysfunctional family dynamics, loss, love and more. Adventure, growth and relationships are core to the story, and viewers will get to see action-packed martial arts sequences, budding character arcs and special effects that bring bending and fantasy creatures like Appa to life.
Fans will see familiar faces in this first season of ATLA
If you’ve been keeping up with the trailers and first-look images for this version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, you may have noticed a few fan-favorites like Suki. Besides the main crew that includes Aang, Katara, Sokka and Zuko, here’s an example of others who you’ll see in season 1.
- Fire Lord Ozai
- Uncle Iroh
- Kya (Sokka and Katara’s mom)
- Princess Yue (leader of the Northern Water Tribe)
- Gran Gran
- Chief Arnook
- Avatar Kyoshi
- Cabbage Merchant
- The Mechanist and his son
- Commander Zhao of the Fire Nation
- Fire Lord Sozin
There is one earthbender who is noticeably absent from the lineup: Toph. She doesn’t appear until season 2 of the animated version, so don’t be surprised if she doesn’t show up. If you’re curious about Toph voice actor Michaela Jill Murphy’s reaction to the live-action trailer, you can watch it here.
Will there be more Avatar: The Last Airbender on the way?
Netflix has not announced whether there will be additional seasons or spinoffs of this live-action installment, yet. This retelling has been in the works since 2018 in partnership with Nickelodeon and originally included co-creators DiMartino and Konietzko.
The two departed the project in 2020 due to creative differences, and have since gone on to reteam with Nickelodeon to create more stories set in the Avatar universe with the launch of Avatar Studios. Upcoming projects include a theatrical film and an animated series drawn from ATLA and The Legend of Korra.