Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Only Redeeming Quality Makes It Worthwhile

By April Ryder | Published

If you haven’t had a chance to take a peek at the new Netflix original series Avatar: The Last Airbender, you’re missing out on something special. Though the Shyamalan live-action movie failed to hit the mark in recreating the classic anime series, Albert Kim’s artistic vision and casting decisions hit the bull’s eye in the new live-action release. 

Perfect Casting

The Netflix live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series went all in on the storyline of the original anime, but the casting is where the showmakers really scored. Kim’s version of the story included a little more visual interpretation of various elements, while some small aspects of the original cartoon were nixed along the way. Regardless, the unique and distinctive characters of the series were perfectly represented. 

Representative Of The Animated Series

For starters, the cast is largely comprised of actors of Asian descent, which is more parallel and better representative of the original animated series. M. Night Shyamalan, director of the widely derided live-action movie, lost the support of fans of the series by not placing enough emphasis on preserving the cultural aspects of the series. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender stars Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Uncle Iroh, and the series even took the time to include space for James Sie (who voiced the original animated role) as the beloved Cabbage Merchant. 

The Perfect Aang

When looking at a physical lineup of the animated characters next to their live-action representations, there’s no arguing the accuracy in aesthetics. Cormier is a spot-on representation of Aang in looks, but casting for the series gets even better when you watch how the various actors/actresses play out their roles. 

The Young Star

netflix avatar

Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Aang is a 12-year-old boy who is charged with saving the world that was sent into a state of darkness and destruction by his own impulse decisions. It’s an intense burden to bear, but Gordon Cormier keeps it all in perspective. 

He plays the role with the true spirit and purity of Aang. You never forget that he’s just a kid trying to do his best. He has high hopes and unrealistic positivity. He’s naively brave, and he even throws devastatingly destructive temper tantrums. 

A Delightfully Annoying Zuko

Dallas Liu’s interpretation of Prince Zuko is another element of excellence in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Zuko is an interesting character with plenty of room for growth as the series progresses, and Liu’s performance makes you feel like they plucked him right out of the cartoon. 

Zuko was always a whiny, spoiled, bratty boy who was starved for his dad’s approval, and Dallas Liu made you believe it. He made you curl your lip and squint your brow at his insolence, all the while provoking empathy for a confused and angry young kid. 

Uncle Iroh

Lastly, Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Uncle Iroh deserves a mention. Even though Iroh is a part of the Fire Nation (the proverbial “bad guys” of the series), he’s not really a bad guy. He’s rather kind and zen and provides a sound voice of reason for Zuko. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee plays Iroh to the tee while still giving the character his own spin. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender, the full season, is now available to stream on Netflix