Never has there been a more reviled cartoon adaptation than the live-action version of Avatar: the Last Airbender. The film takes a great Nickeloden cartoon, drags it through the mud, then stomps on Aang's head for good measure. There are many, many reasons the movie is bad, but the focus here is on how specific elements of the Avatar show were mishandled in the movie.
Overall, there are about a million ways The Last Airbender movie screwed up Avatar, and now many of them are compiled in one handy list. Obviously, the film became a big example of Hollywood's tendency to whitewash casting, since the good guys are turned into Caucasians.This list isn't about that, though. This is about all the other things that annoyed Avatar fans throughout the film. So check out this list to relive the worst things about The Last Airbender movie, and learn what exactly M. Night Shyamalan and his team of filmmakers got wrong about the classic cartoon. Short Answer? Everything.
They Put an Earthbender Prison on a Bunch of Earth
It's clear that the point of this movie is to show that the world has lost all hope and only the Avatar can restore it. There's nothing wrong with that, except for some truly boneheaded story choices. Like when Team Avatar stumbles across an earthbending prison right in the heart of earth kingdom village. That's right, earthbenders are being held captive, while surrounded by the one thing that makes them all-powerful. For some reason, it takes one small kid standing up and saying, "Hey, guys, maybe you should stand up for yourselves," for them to do anything.In the cartoon, the prison is on a big metal boat in the middle of the ocean, which makes 100% more sense.
If you're a casual moviegoer, you would be forgiven if you forgot that Sokka was a character in The Last Airbender movie. A plank of wood could have played his part and everything would have unfolded the exact same way. This especially hurts knowing that Sokka is arguably the best character in the cartoon. He is always funny, but his character gets one of the better arcs, transforming from a cocky, inept buffoon to a brilliant, hilarious buffoon. The movie barely gives him any lines or anything to do, and worst of all, he tells maybe two unfunny jokes throughout the entire movie.
Earthbenders Apparently Don't Know How to Earthbend
Six guys. That's how many earthbenders it takes to slowly raise a small rock and move it a few feet forward. Three guys could have done more damage picking it up by hand and bashing a Fire Nation soldier in the face. In the cartoon, fans are blessed with awesome earthbenders like Bumi and Toph. In the movie, they're stuck with these guys. If this was the kind of opposition they were up against, maybe it isn't so surprising that the inept Fire Nation soldiers took over the world in the first place.
They Replace a Raged-Out Avatar Monster with a Useless Giant Wave
A lot of fans probably walked into the theater wondering, "How could they possibly do justice to the giant Spirit Monster that Aang turns into at the end of season one?" The answer: by not even trying. In one of the movie's biggest disappointments, the finale is changed almost entirely into something lackluster and anti-climatic. Instead of Aang tapping into his Avatar State to completely wipe out the Fire Nation's army and save the Northern Water Tribe, he instead makes a gigantic wave which causes every single Fire Nation ship to just turn around and go home. It's stupid, and even though it plays into the theme that the Avatar needs to inspire hope and not kill bad guys, it robs the movie of a proper finale.And here's the thing: having Aang turn into the monster to destroy the Fire Nation doesn't make him a killer. It instead highlights how much the Avatar is capable of and what Aang needs to do in order to harness that power. It is also super cool. But forget all that, because here's a big wave.