Tuesday, July 06, 2021

'Avatar: Last Airbender' Co-Creator Says That There's So Much He'd Fix About the Series

Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko also weighed in on "The Great Divide" episode and provided a few updates on Avatar Studios.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed TV series out there, especially in animation — but its creators can still find a few things to nitpick.

Avatar plunged viewers into a fantastical world where the four elements are represented by differing nations. In telling the story of Aang, the titular Avatar who has the ability to wield all the elements, the series offered complex characters, fascinating world-building, and plenty of heart. As a result, Avatar is widely regarded as one of the best kids' shows of all time.

Just to underscore how beloved Avatar has become over the years, it has led to the creation of its own franchise. Along with Michael Dante DiMartino, Konietzko created the sequel series The Legend of Korra in 2012 and wrote several comics set after both shows. Currently, the pair are working with Nickelodeon's new Avatar Studios to create even more content for the world of Avatar, starting with an animated movie. All of this is on top of the live-action series Netflix is still in the midst of developing, though Konietzko and DiMartino departed that project last year.

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, co-creators of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' and 'The Legend of Korra' | CREDIT: ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES

In Tuesday's (June 29) episode of the Avatar recap podcast Braving the Elements, co-host Dante Basco (who voiced Zuko on ATLA) talked to the show's creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, about the belief many fans have that they created the "perfect show."

"That blows me away — there's so much that I would fix," Konietzko responded.

"There's a bunch of stuff that I just think, 'Ugh, I wish that scene was animated better; I don't like the way this character's looking in this episode,'" he added, before conceding that "you can only fix so much."

As writers, executive producers, and directors of the series, which aired 2005 to 2008 on Nickelodeon, it makes sense that the pair would be critical of their work. But they did what they could, working with an animation studio overseas, providing meticulous notes, and doing retakes on any animation errors or new creative directions.

"Sure, it would be nice if it all was super slick and looked its utter best, but it still delivers this really powerful, complete package to people that goes straight to their hearts," Konietzko contended.

The duo also gave their honest thoughts on episodes some fans were unhappy with and viewed as "filler." They defended one such episode, Book 1's "The King of Omashu" as being "super crucial" as an introduction to the recurring character Bumi. However, they're with viewers about another controversial episode, "The Great Divide," which featured Aang and his friends trying to usher two feuding clans safely across a treacherous canyon.

"The most famous one is 'The Great Divide' one, which I'll give them, I'll say that's pretty 'filler-y,'" DiMartino admitted.

"That's terrible," Konietzko also said. When Basco suggested that they could've improved the installment by changing the ending, he responded, "Nah, I don't think that would have saved it."

"You've got this big gap; it's a big empty hole, yet it is filler," Konietzko quipped, adding, "Yeah, I was not happy with it." But he did note that he enjoyed the canyon crawler creatures in the episode. "Even the episodes that I wasn't as stoked on, there were always moments that I really liked."

Luckily there are plenty of fans who believe Avatar is excellent just as it is, so Konietzko shouldn't take these things too hard.

The duo also discussed Avatar Studios, their venture with Nickelodeon to create content based around the Avatarverse. While they didn't reveal any huge updates, DiMartino did promise they were "working hard" to create the franchise, noting that "it's going to take a while before new stuff starts percolating out there."

"Mike and I have mapped out a very ambitious, multi-tiered" plan to explore "this big, rich, largely untapped history and future in the Avatar world," Konietzko explained.

"Each of these projects [has] its own feeling, its own tone and look, so it will all feel true to the Avatar world, but they will all be very different expressions of it so it will really deepen it and expand it," he added later in the podcast.

"We're coming in now and we have unprecedented support from Nickelodeon, so it is the franchise, the shows and animated stuff, but also other stuff beyond, in publishing, and in podcasts like you're doing and all that stuff," said DiMartino. "We have all the ideas and ideally we're going to get to, over the years, explore all of them and get to make them, but it'll take some time."

"If we make all this stuff, you guys will just be podcasting for about the next 20 years or so," DiMartino teased.

To that, I say: Flamey-O!

Konietzko and DiMartino having a new perspective on their work on Avatar bodes well for the projects to come. Now that the two are more aware of what they wish they could do differently, they can apply those lessons to the future shows and movies. Much of those future plans for the Avatar universe remain unclear, but fans can rest assured both men have a lot planned. At the same time, there are others who might say Avatar is perfect as it is and doesn't need any more content. It's interesting how people can have different perspectives, isn't it?

Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Paramount+ and Netflix!

Listen to the brand new podcast, Avatar: Braving the Elements!: http://nickalive.blogspot.com/search/label/Avatar%3A%20Braving%20the%20Elements

Subscribe to the NEW official Avatar: The Last Airbender YouTube channel!: https://at.nick.com/AvatarSubscribe

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