18 Major Things The 'Last Airbender' Movie Got Wrong

Over 10.7K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 18 Major Things The 'Last Airbender' Movie Got Wrong
Voting Rules
Vote up the biggest mistakes made adapting Avatar: The Last Airbender

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.

  • 1
    3,151 VOTES

    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.

    3,151 votes
  • 2
    3,465 VOTES

    The Movie Puts An Earthbender Prison On A Bunch Of Earth

    The clear 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.

    3,465 votes
  • The Movie Forgets Sokka Is Supposed To Be Funny
    Photo: Avatar: The Last Airbender / Nickelodeon

    If you're a casual moviegoer, you would be forgiven for not remembering 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 original series.

    He is always funny, but his character also 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 else to do, really - and worst of all, he tells maybe two (unfunny) jokes throughout the entire movie.

    3,357 votes
  • 4
    2,555 VOTES

    The Movie Just Glosses Over Katara's Training As A Waterbender

    The first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender is just as much about Katara's quest to become a great waterbender as it is about Aang's journey. Near the end, it gets harder for her. When they get to the Northern Water Tribe in the series, waterbending Master Pakku immediately agrees to train Aang, but dismisses Katara. She's a girl and supposedly isn't tough enough to fight. But in a badass Katara moment, she proves herself worthy of training and starts on her way to waterbending mastery.

    That differs immensely from the movie, as Katara's training is never a factor - or mentioned at all, for that matter. The film version exists pretty much purely to support Aang's narrative.

    2,555 votes
  • 5
    2,226 VOTES

    The Meeting Between Aang And The Blue Spirit Is Completely Bungled

    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.

    2,226 votes
  • 6
    2,336 VOTES

    The Movie Butchers The Opening Voiceover

    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.

    2,336 votes