Saturday, July 23, 2022

Avatar: Braving the Elements – LIVE! Panel Highlights | Nickelodeon at SDCC 2022

Highlights from Nickelodeon's Avatar: Braving the Elements – LIVE! panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2022!

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Avatar: Braving the Elements – LIVE!
Friday, July 22, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m PT. (Room: 6A): Ready to explore the amazing world of Avatar: The Last Airbender? Avatar: Braving the Elements, the official companion podcast co-produced by Nickelodeon and iHeartRadio, is back for season 2 and bringing you an episode live from San Diego Comic Con! Join hosts Janet Varney (the voice of Korra) and Dante Basco (the voice of Prince Zuko), along with special guests, for a one-of-a-kind panel that takes you behind the scenes of how Avatar was brought to life like never before!


SDCC: Avatar: Braving the Elements Goes Behind the Scenes

The Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast had a panel at SDCC to get behind the scenes of the iconic franchise that began with The Last Airbender.

With the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise continuing to expand across various media including a highly anticipated live-action adaptation, the official companion podcast Avatar: Braving the Elements held a panel on Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to take a deep dive into the series. Dante Basco, the voice of Prince Zuko, completed an episode of Nickelodeon iHeartRadio's popular podcast in front of a live audience, going behind the scenes of the making of Avatar. He is usually joined by Janet Varney, the voice of Korra.

Basco came on stage and immediately said, "What's up? Zuko here!"

He then announced that Varney would be unable to appear on the panel as planned. Basco introduced the podcast saying, "For those who don't know, we are going through the whole series episode by episode. When we go through the episodes we go through everything, and we bring in the actors, the animators, the musicians, we really get a deep dive in."

The voice of Sokka, Jack De Sena and the voice of the Earth King, Phil LaMarr, surprised the audience by appearing live in lieu of Varney. However, Varney also appeared in a video message with an announcement: "The first movie will be focusing on Avatar Aang and his friends."

LaMarr talked about his work on Avatar, saying he had never seen a show quite like it before.

De Sena then said, "Book 2 is great. It has a lot of really great Sokka stuff. Season 2 is sort of his college years. You know, getting high on cactus juice in the desert."

Basco explained that he had never actually watched the entire series in order and that he was now reliving it, and De Sena admitted there was one episode, "Zuko Alone," that he's never seen and never read the script for.

LaMarr mentioned working with the late Mako, drawing a round of applause from the audience. Basco followed up with, "He really was like an Uncle Iroh to me. I would go to him and he would give me advice."

Basco reminisced about De Sena's early days on the show, during which he was still doing All That. "I dropped out of college twice," said De Sena in reference to his busy schedule at that time of his life, which he admitted is "such a Sokka thing."

"It's fun to be like, 'Here's a moment that will be repeated to me for the next fifteen years!'" De Sena said in reference to reviewing the old episodes which have now become iconic to Avatar fans.

LaMarr said that he was initially asked to "do [his] regular voice" and was confused, as voice actors don't necessarily know what that means.

Basco asked the others what kind of benders they would be if they lived in the Four Nations, and De Sena responded that he would first of all be so excited just to be a bender at all. However, he then professed to be "loyal to water," like his character. "I'm Water Tribe!"

LaMarr also leaned toward his character's element, noting that earthbending can turn into metalbending. "If I get to choose, watch what you're sittin' on!"

Basco: "On the show, do you guys have a favorite adversary?" De Sena replied, "Can I say Zuko? We end up on good terms!" and La Marr said, "His cutest adversary is Azula!"

Basco and De Sena decided to have a "Zuko and Sokka" conversation, in which they used their characters' voices to discuss their plans for dinner and drop references to the series. They continued by talking about their love interests: "Sokka" said his favorite pickup line was, "My name's Sokka. It's pronounced with an 'okka.' And baby, I'll rock ya!" Basco, who previously mentioned that he shipped Zuko with Katara, said, "There's this Water Tribe girl I like. You don't know her."

The panel then called for some audience participation to come up to the microphone in the aisle and act out a scene from the series. They selected cosplaying volunteers to play Katara, Toph, and Long Feng. Basco played the role of Aang and the other two actors on stage played their own roles from the show. Corresponding still frames from the Season 2 episode played on the screens in the room and an assistant read the script to narrate while the volunteers and actors read their lines for the scene.

When the impromptu cast realized that they didn't have anyone to play the flying lemur Momo, Basco took on double duty to make some squeaking animal noises.

Basco, De Sena and LaMarr then treated the audience to a recreation of a fan-favorite scene. They performed this one themselves, in which Zuko and Sokka are in a war balloon shortly after going from enemies to allies, having an initially awkward conversation. LaMarr provided the narration.

Next, the panel hosted a trivia competition for the fans, who lined up in the aisle for the chance to win a cast-signed Aang figure by answering obscure questions about the series which even the cast members couldn't fully recall. "This game's harder than we thought," said De Sena when the first question stumped four contestants in a row.

After the trivia game, the panel accepted Q&A questions from fans. One "controversial" question was whether Aang or Korra had it harder as the Avatar. De Sena cheekily responded, "Korra, because she didn't have Sokka."

Basco related a memory of recording opposite Mark Hamill, who played his father Ozai in Avatar. "We finished and I was like, did we just do the Vader-Luke scene?"

LaMarr recounted the many voice roles he's played, such as Samurai Jack, Green Lantern in Justice League, and Futurama. "I'm developing a series of my own called Goblins, which is based on the D&D webcomic of the same name. The best thing is that I got to cast it." He named some of his well-known voice actor friends who he had chosen for his project and concluded, "So that was my favorite recording."


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Originally published: July 23, 2022.

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