Nickelodeon and Paramount recently announced that three new animated films from the world of Avatar: The Last Conqueror of the Air are in development, but their success may depend on whether they repeat the mistakes from The Legend of Korra. Since the popularity of the original cartoon increased when it was released on Netflix during quarantine, the projects “New Avatar: The Last Airbender” are causing a revival. A real-time Netflix adaptation is still in development, but new animated content is also on the horizon. People who love the original “Avatar” should have high hopes for three animated films, since the creators of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Michael Dimartino and Brian Konietzko are producers of future films, although they left the Netflix project.
The films will be the first official release of the animated Avatar since The Legend of Korra, which ended in 2014. Although “Korra” received generally good reviews, it failed to reach the same heights as “The Last Airbender”. Nevertheless, it is certainly better than M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action film, which may indicate that the universe of The Last Airbender is better suited for animation than for live action. While living up to the original “The Last Airbender” will always be difficult, there is one problem that films must solve in order to have a chance of winning.
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One of the widespread criticisms of Korra that new animated films should avoid is her world-building, or more specifically, the pace of her world-building. The Legend of Korra is a sequel to The Last Airbender, where Korra is an Avatar that directly continues Aang, the main character of the original series. Although the action of “Korra” takes place only 70 years after “The Last Airbender”, the world is developing very quickly. In the original series, the world resembles feudal Asian cultures, except for the advanced ships and planes of the Fire Nation. However, in “Korra”, the action of the first season takes place in the city of the Republic, which is highly developed with an abundance of affordable vehicles, skyscrapers and advanced government and public systems. This promotion was criticized by viewers, which deprived some viewers of the ability to restrain distrust. If the action of the new Avatar films takes place in the future outside of Korra, this can only exacerbate the problem.
If the film decides to focus on the events after Korra’s life, perhaps out of a desire to create completely new knowledge, then the technology will develop only further than what was seen in The Legend of Korra. Nevertheless, the more modernized society is, the more detached it seems from the “Last Conqueror of the Air”, and the more dissatisfied the returning viewers will become, since the series would not listen to the criticism of previous recordings. Although the action of the films could take place in the future, and the creators could intentionally stop technological advances, it seems like an unnecessary headache.
However, it is important to note that the new Avatar films are still at an early stage of development, which gives the projects flexibility. At the moment, these stories are unlikely to be set in stone, and therefore this problem could be solved or completely avoided. One way to avoid the “Legend of Korra” problem is to install Avatar movies before the events of The Last Airbender. The universe of The Last Airbender has a rich history, from fragments of the animated series to its extended media, such as the novels of F.K. Yee. Before Aang, several named Avatars were already related to the fandom, for example, Avatar Roku, who appears in “The Last Airbender”, or Avatar Yangchen, the focus of Yi’s upcoming novel “The Dawn of Yangchen”. A movie dedicated to Kyoshi’s Avatar, who appears in The Last Airbender and will largely appear in Netflix’s Avatar, would be a hit with viewers. There are rumors that one of the three films will be dedicated to Kyoshi. However, nothing is confirmed. What’s important for the upcoming Avatar films is that they focus on the past, bringing the stories back to a setting more similar to what was seen in The Last Airbender.