As I noted during my breakdown of the first trailer for Netflix’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the show seems to be including the Fire Nation attack on the Air Nomads — the event that sets the whole story in motion. Speaking with IGN, showrunner Albert Kim opened up about including this pivotal — and previously unseen — scene. “I’ve talked a lot about how one of the reasons for doing this adaptation is to fill in the gaps,” Kim explained. “And this, to me, was one of the big gaps in the original series.”
“It was very important that we needed to see the event,” he added. “We get to portray that and show exactly the horrors that start here and then have lasting repercussions for the next century of the world.”
That seems to be the key to this change — the cascading wave of repercussions that stem from explicitly showing this in terms of tone. “This is something that wasn’t in there that we want in our show because it is a different tone than the original series while we’re trying to honor everything that was laid before us,” added executive producer, director, and VFX supervisor Jabbar Raisani. By depicting the Air Nomad genocide, you automatically have a darker story and more present stakes for the characters and the world at large, as opposed to the relatively slow burn of the original series (which admittedly starts out as rather silly before maturing alongside the characters).
Kim also confirmed that the latest trailer features a character we don’t see until much, much later — Fire Lord Sozin, who personally leads the attack on the Air Nomads for some reason. “We get to see Sozin here attacking Monk Gyatso. And it’s a very important moment in the story. It kicks off the entire journey,” Kim added.
The live-action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” begins streaming on Netflix on February 22, 2024.