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. 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.
The Movie Butchers The Opening VoiceoverPhoto: Nickelodeon
It's a bad sign when things go wrong during the introduction. What starts off as a super cool live-action scene involving all four types of bending quickly goes off the rails. It would have been easy to have Katara read the introduction that initially kicked off the show. Instead, Shyamalan decided to rewrite it and make it his own - a foreboding sign to fans that maybe this movie isn't the proper adaptation the cartoon deserves.Was this a mistake?
The Meeting Between Aang And The Blue Spirit Is Completely BungledPhoto: Nickelodeon
In one of the standout episodes of Season 1, Aang is captured by the evil General Zhao, then rescued by a mysterious figure known as the Blue Spirit. In a cool twist, this turns out to be Zuko, simply saving the Avatar from Zhao so he could capture Aang himself later on. After Zuko gets knocked out, he wakes up to find Aang talking to him. Aang tells him about how one of his best friends used to be from the Fire Nation and he asks Zuko if maybe they met before the war, could they be friends?
It's a beautiful scene that hints that maybe the two enemies could be friends if they weren't burdened by their duties. It also sets the stage for the friendship they form in Season 3. In the movie, Aang sees that it's Zuko under the mask, and then just runs away without a word.Was this a mistake?
Zuko's Scar Looks Horrible
Whenever you adapt a cartoon into live-action, it's understandable that some things need to be changed. It's kind of cool how the movie changes Aang's tattoos to be more defined, and it's not the end of the world that Uncle Iroh isn't exactly as portly as his animated counterpoint. But for some baffling reason, the movie tones down Zuko's facial scar to the point that it's barely noticable. It's like the filmmakers were spending too much money on a crappy CGI version of Appa that they didn't have enough to put makeup on Dev Patel every day.
This is a problem not only because it looks stupid, but because it strips Zuko of a vitally important character trait. Throughout the animated series, he is the character most at war with himself. His scar represents the angry, obsessive side of him, always serving as a reminder of his past. By toning that down, Zuko's character in the movie lacks depth and characterization, making it difficult to feel any sympathy for him or his plight.Was this a mistake?
A Great Romance Is Whittled Down To NothingPhoto: Paramount Pictures
In the cartoon, Princess Yue is Sokka's first great love. She is beautiful, kind, and intelligent, but she's been promised to someone else. This makes for great drama as the two slowly begin to fall for one another, but can't do anything about it. Her final goodbye to Sokka as she sacrifices herself to become the moon spirit is even more heartbreaking. Without that element, her whole presence in the movie feels extraneous.
Rather than a relationship, the audience gets a single line of voiceover exposition saying that Sokka and Princess Yue immediately take a liking to one another. Apparently everybody is supposed to just accept that they're a couple and pretend their relationship matters.Was this a mistake?