Monday, March 30, 2020

'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Star Dante Basco on Whether He'll Appear in Netflix's New Live-Action Series

It has been a long time since Avatar: The Last Airbender made its way to television. The series lives on in comics and novels, but a solid 15 years have gone by since the world first met Aang and the Avatar gang. These days, the title is back in the news since Netflix is working on a live-action adaptation of the show, and one star is open to returning to the Fire Nation.

Recently, got the chance to speak with Dante Basco (Hook) about his tenure with Avatar: The Last Airbender. The veteran voice actor played Zuko in the series, and his work at the prince was praised the world over. Speaking about the show's 15th anniversary, Basco opened up about the live-action Netflix series and whether he'd do a cameo.

"We'll see, we'll see," the actor said before discussing his place behind the scenes.

The vague answer isn't too surprising given how far out Netflix is from airing the series. So far, no casting has been confirmed for Avatar: The Last Airbender, but the show's creators have promised this adaptation will not go the way of its first, including having a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast.

As for Basco, fans would love to see the actor return to the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender but in person this time. A loving cameo would be enough for diehard fans of the fiery prince, so here's to hoping Netflix is down for such an easter egg!

If you want to relive any piece of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its 15th anniversary steelbook collection is available now. You can find more details on the bundle here.

Created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and airing between 2005 and 2008, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is set in world people can manipulate the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, and they lived peacefully in different regions until one of the nations started a world war. One master who can manipulate all four elements, dubbed the "Avatar," had been able to prevent this war, but disappeared soon after. 100 years later, a new Avatar named Aang awakens and sets out on a journey to master all the elements in order to bring peace to the land once more by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.

The series managed to be such a hit with fans by combining amazing animated action set pieces with three dimensional interesting characters set in this magical fantasy world.

The animated series originally aired for 61 episodes over three seasons ("Books") originally on Nickelodeon, where it began in February 2005 and concluded in July 2008. The series was nominated for—and won—Annie Awards, Genesis Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Peabody Award.

Konietzko and DiMartino also created a follow-up series, The Legend of Korra, that returned to the world of Avatar years after Aang’s death to follow Korra, his successor as Avatar. That series ran between 2012-2014.

The stories of both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have continued on in graphic novel series.

Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment released the Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Complete Series 15th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook Collection on February 18, 2020.

From ComicBook:

Avatar: The Last Airbender Star Dante Basco Needs the Series to Answer One Last Zuko Question

Avatar: The Last Airbender continues to be one of the most popular and beloved Nickelodeon animated series ever, and as it celebrates its 15th Anniversary, fans continue to ask for more. Although the original series received an official sequel taking place years after the events of the original with The Legend of Korra, and a few comic book outings exploring the characters a bit more, there are still quite a few questions fans have about how Aang and the other characters lived their lives following the end of that original series. It turns out some of the stars have questions too.

Speaking with's Megan Peters, the star behind Zuko Dante Basco revealed some of the questions he'd like to see answered about Zuko's life following the end of the series. While some were answered with supplemental materials released after it ended, but he really wants to know about what happened with Zuko's love life.

As Basco explained, originally he had questions about the wherabouts of Zuko's mother, but those were answered in the comics, so that began to open up even more questions to him, "I mean I've kept up on the comics and whatnot, and Zuko's mom was a big question for a lot of people, and I love reading about it in the comics. My thing with Zuko is basically what happened to him and Mai, wrapping that relationship. Was he ever really in love with Katara[?] I'm always down to go back there. But those kind of things. Just fun, kind of, fun fan thing[s]."

Basco had an integral role in the original animated series, and it turns out that he has just as many questions as fans about how his character's future turned out. Basco truly cares deeply for Zuko even after all these years, and was wondering how the future live-action adaptation on Netflix will be shaping the character too. He was coy as to whether or not he's involved in the new series, but now fans know that Basco is thinking of all the fun fan theories along with the rest of us!

But what do you think? Wondering how Zuko's love life turned out too? What happened between him and Mai? Let us know your thoughts in the comments [...]!

Avatar: The Last Airbender was originally created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for Nickelodeon in 2005. The series is set in world people can manipulate the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, and they lived peacefully in different regions until one of the regions started a world war. One master who can manipulate all four elements, dubbed the "Avatar," had been able to prevent this war, but disappeared soon after. 100 years later, a new Avatar named Aang awakens and sets out on a journey to master all the elements in order to bring peace to the land once more.


From ComicBook:

Dante Basco Shares His Thoughts on Netflix's Upcoming Take on Avatar: The Last Airbender

Nickelodeon hit it out of the park with Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the series is still just as fondly looked upon by fans as it was when it first debuted years ago. Now celebrating the franchise's 15th Anniversary, Avatar: The Last Airbender is still going to live on with a brand new live-action series coming to Netflix sometime in the near future. The creators behind the original animated series have been confirmed to return as showrunners for the new live-action adaptation, and various other crew members are starting to come together. But how do the stars of the original feel about the new series?'s Megan Peters recently had the opportunity to sit with the star behind Zuko, Dante Basco, and Basco revealed his initial thoughts about the new live-action work. While he has faith in the original creators doing a great job, Basco is wondering how the new series will be approaching Zuko's layered story in the original.

As Basco explains, "...I know [Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko] are involved, so I have a lot of trust in something beautiful that they'll create. But as far as the new Zuko as they do the adaptation, it's really...You've got to remember his story. You start back to the beginning and the story of redemption, so you got to give him places to grow. You have to start one place and then another place."

Basco breaks down how surprisingly important Basco's hair is to his story of growth too, "As funny as the hair is in the story, it's real. It's like he goes from being a bald headed kid with a ponytail to the end with the meanders, it's part of his journey. You kind of got to start in a very extreme place, which means he's got a crazy place in life...Remember the story of redemption that's start him off in an unlikable place. His background to me were to be not like to really go through that."

So it sounds like Basco has faith in the new series, but like fans, is wondering just how it will portray the longer character arcs that the original animated series is so well known for. But what do you think? Are you excited for Netflix's new live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments [...]!.


From ComicBook:

Avatar: Zuko Actor Dante Basco Shares His Favorite Story Arc

Perhaps there is no more complicated character in Avatar The Last Airbender than Zuko. The prince of the fire nation started his journey attempting win his way back into his father's good graces by re-capturing the Avatar, Aang, who had just awoken from an icy coma. Brought to life by voice actor Dante Basco, Zuko took a personal adventure that saw him completely changing his trajectory, turning against his father and the Fire Nation while also joining Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph. We had the opportunity to ask Dante what his favorite story line of Zuko's was throughout the entirety of Avatar: The Last Airbender!

Dante informed us that his favorite story line involved Zuko and his sister Azula, the crazed princess of the Fire Nation who found herself attempting to track down her brother and the Avatar following his "failures". While Zuko found a road to redemption, Azula instead reveled in her madness and hatred, causing the brother and sister to walk very different paths! Basco had this to say about their relationship:

"I always loved the banter and the relationship between Zuko and Azula. I mean I come from a family, brothers and sisters and I love Grey DeLisle who plays Azula, one of my favorite actresses for sure. And just their fiery relationship and the ups and downs of family, of love and loyalty, and dishonor and distrust. And it was really great."

The siblings of the Fire Nation both had the ability to manipulate fire, but their mastery of their power eventually opened up the door to even control lightning itself. Zuko is normally considered a fan favorite of fans of the Nickelodeon series, as his complicated character created some of the most impactful emotional beats of the series. While his journey ended at the end of the first Avatar series, later works would find Zuko attempting to find his mother while dealing with his malicious sister.

Avatar The Last Airbender has recently been in the news thanks in part to its fifteen year anniversary, with the release of a steelbook that collects the complete series. Also, a live action television series for Netflix is currently in the works, with the creative minds behind the original series re-uniting once again to bring the world of Aang and his friends to life.

What was your favorite story arc of Zuko? Who was your favorite character of the series? Feel free to let us know in the comments [...]!


From CBR:

Avatar: The Last Airbender's Dante Basco Reflects on 15 Years of Zuko

Fifteen years have passed since the debut of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon, but you wouldn't know it from the way the animated series lives on in the pop-culture lexicon. It has made such an indelible mark on the industry that it is often held up as a standard by which other animated series are judged. It should come as no surprise, then, that Zuko voice actor Dante Basco often finds himself thinking about the fan-favorite character.

Speaking with CBR, Basco reflected on his involvement with Avatar: The Last Airbender and how his interactions with fans have changed over the years. He recalled his favorite experiences as both an actor and the character, as well as the moments that defined Zuko and made him so beloved. He also revealed he had spoken to creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko about the upcoming live-action Netflix adaptation, and what advice he would offer the new Zuko.

CBR: Avatar: The Last Airbender transcended the zeitgeist and became a cult classic after its release. When did it hit you that the show was getting so big?

Dante Basco: Yeah! It's fascinating, actually, because we started doing the show before social media really took off. So we were not as engaged with the audience as we are now, when shows come out. So I was actually doing a movie called Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas and I was shooting in Toronto at the time, and I was leaving the set once a week to do the show.

I ran into one of the other actors on the show, an adult actor named Brandon Andrews, [who said], "Where are you going?" I'm like, "I do a cartoon for Nickelodeon." And he's like, "What? A cartoon? What show? What is it called?" And I'm thinking he wouldn't know, because he's in his 20s! I'm like, "It's a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender." He's like, "What? What show?" I'm like, "Avatar: The Last Airbender." He goes, "That's my show!" I was like, "What? You watch the show?" He's like, "Yeah! Who are you?" I'm like, "I'm the prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko." His mouth dropped. He's like, "You're Prince Zuko?!" and he starts freaking out. I'm like, this is a grown man freaking out about a cartoon. That was my first hint that there was something different going on.

Let's talk a little more about social media. How have your interactions with fans changed over the years?

It's been wild! I come from a traditional media generation, you know? I'm like the last generation of that. And so the whole world has changed, ultimately. Coming into social media, Twitter, Facebook -- I mean, the first social media I ever had was Tumblr. In the golden era of Tumblr, I had 250,000 followers, and we'd talk about Zuko and this other thing called Homestuck. That was a crazy ride, to have that first wave of social media hit you.

In reality, we're still at the beginning of all of this, but I think we were kind of lucky to a degree at the first creation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, because there was no social media. The whole thing just got made, before the fans could react. It's a different time than it was before. Now, you're so aware of how people are reacting to what you're doing, like instantaneously, whereas we come from a different era where it just started coming out and were very surprised how people reacted.

You have, honestly, one of the most unique voices in voice work. Have you ever been recognized off that alone?

Yeah, there's a whole generation that only knows me as a voice actor. You never know, because you don't even hear your own voice ever, right? You just talk. You just barely hear your thoughts in your voice. But I'm always surprised when it happens.

Most of the time it happens at, like, Starbucks, because the cashier isn't even looking at you, just taking your orders. And then you're just like, "Can I get a grande white chocolate mocha?" They'll literally stop in their tracks and they're like, "Are you Prince Zuko?" I'm like, "Uh, yeah." Which is pretty funny! Or the Disney fans are like, "Are you American Dragon Jake Long?" I'm like, "Yeah, I am." I guess my voice is more recognizable than I know!

Zuko is such a wonderfully dynamic, complex character. At what point in his journey did you realize he had potential to become a hero?

Probably right when he got his scar. That was the moment where I started realizing who he was -- really who he was. Until then, he was kind of just a bad guy.

When did creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko let you in on Zuko's change of heart?

No one really did! I'm like the audience; I learned as we went along. I thought I was going to play the bad guy in the series. I was enjoying American Dragon Jake Long at the same time. I thought I'd be a good guy in Disney and a bad guy in Nickelodeon. Then, after the episode with his father where you see how he got the scar... it was just enlightening. Like, you start reading the script going, "Who is this guy?" You see, me and Mae Whitman and Jack De Sena would read the scripts, come to the readings and go, "Did you see what happened? Did you see what happens this week?" The whole thing was like a ride for us too.

One of my favorite aspects of the show was Zuko's complicated relationship with his Uncle Iroh. Did you draw from your own experiences for that?

Of course! I mean, families -- everything with me and, I think, a lot of Asian families and just Zuko's family with his Uncle Iroh and his sister Azula and his father Ozai. It runs deep! And so I'm sure I've drawn from that. I come from a big family of brothers and sisters and family dramas and honor and dishonor. I've gone through dark periods with my family. So I've definitely lived through it all, you know? Sometimes you just get lucky, and you and the character coincide at the right time.

We got a glimpse of Zuko's future in Legend of Korra, but there's a lot of time in his life that hasn't been accounted for. Over the years, have you ever kind of imagined where he might be, if he were at a similar life stage as you?

Yeah, I've thought about it! I mean, he's one of the greatest characters I've gotten to play over my career, so there's a little bit of me in Zuko and a little bit of Zuko in me. I don't know! Who knows? In the future, maybe Brian and Mike will create the adventures of the young Fire Lord Zuko.

Speaking of Legend of Korra, tell me a little about how you got involved with the series and how you changed your approach to play Zuko's grandson.

Mike and Brian know the fan base and they know I'm a particular fan favorite. I've always kept up with lots of fans, so I think Emiko [Iijima] thought my [being Zuko's] grandson was a treat for the fans. We come back! The boys coming back -- I think it was an interesting choice on their part. It was really fun for me, and it was really fun when I said the first line and it came out and blew up Twitter for a hot second. It was cool.

In previous interviews, you've talked a little bit about shipping Zuko and Katara. Care to add to that?

Zutara forever! I love Fire and Water, and I spent so much time with Mae Whitman, who played the character, both in this show and in American Dragon Jake Long. Like a lot of fans, in the cave scene episode, I thought she was gonna heal his scar. Sometimes the shipping is more fun if it's not canon, you know? I think it's all fun, but... I like Mae too. That was the main reason for it, like, "I'm into Mae also," but I just think Fire and Water, Katara and Zuko are a great thing to ship.

As I'm sure you're aware, Netflix is developing a live-action Avatar series. Have you spoken to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko about it at all?

Yeah, we've had some conversations. I mean, I love those guys. I trust those guys. It's the stuff they came up with. They're involved. It's going to be fascinating, and, you know, I'm all for the Avatar family. So I hope sooner or later I'll be involved in some way, shape or form.

What advice would you offer the new Zuko?

That's a good question. As far as Zuko's story, in the end of the day, it's a story of redemption. So, it's okay to be not liked. There are things you're going to do that's going to be unlikable and understand why he's doing everything he's doing. He's always trying to do the right thing all the time, even though it may be the wrong thing. At that time in his life, he feels like it's the right thing.

Considering all 15 years you've been living with this character, what is your favorite part of your whole experience?

You know, just the whole thing. Getting the part and performing it and playing a character and finding stories -- it's amazing. He truly is one of the greatest characters I got to play in my career over the last 30+ years. And then being a part of such a beautiful IP franchise, and to be there from the ground up is a dream come true and the onslaught of social media and Comic Cons around the world and being able to engage with audiences in a way that not many before our generation have gotten to engage with audiences has been really, really fascinating. I count myself fortunate for sure. It's hard to say what's your favorite part of this all. It's all a part the journey. I sound like Uncle Iroh, but it's true.

I'd like to hear about another favorite: what's your favorite Zuko moment from the series?

There's so many different ones. The episode about Uncle Iroh is pretty amazing, very emotional. They made it around time the original actor Mako passed away. Mako has played my uncle, my father in my career like four times. I grew up with Mako's name, as one of the elders in the industry from the start. He really was Uncle Iroh to me. It was very special, all those things.

Also, some of my favorite moments: "The Tales of Ba Sing Se" is one of my favorite arcs in Avatar. All those vignettes are amazing, with Zuko just dating a girl, just trying to be a regular kid. It's really beautiful, because I grew up as a child actor myself, and there's times where you feel cool and special and other times you just want to be a kid and go out on a date. I thought that was really beautiful to see Zuko in that life. So there's things like that that touched me.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Complete Series Blu-ray 15th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook Collection is now on sale.


From ComicBook:

Avatar: The Last Airbender Star Dante Basco Discusses His Favorite Thing About the Show

Avatar: The Last Airbender is still one of the most recognized and beloved animated series to ever come out of Nickelodeon, and even with the release of an official sequel and live-action film, fans still cling to this original project over a decade after it first aired. Now as the franchise celebrates its 15th Anniversary, it's the perfect time to look back and breakdown everything it did to be successful at the end of the day. This comes from its story the most, and while even some of the stars still have questions of how the story ended, it's still full of huge moments.

Speaking with's Megan Peters, Dante Basco (the star who brought Zuko to life) actually opened up what his favorite things about the series were, "I mean, the whole thing. I think Hollywood's a fickle place and you never know what kind of projects you end up working on and what they ultimately ended up becoming. So very fortunate to be a part of the Avatar family."

As Basco explains about his position on the series overall, he's favorite aspect of it was the entire project as a whole, "Looking back, I'm most proud of the story. This kind of storytelling, and it happened to be a great story." Elaborating further, Basco was proud to be a part of a series that was faithful to the multiple Asian cultures that inspired, "starts off with [series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino] kind of creating this tale and being very respectful to the thing that inspired them, especially all the Asian themes and Asian American actors, artists, filmmakers."

In fact, this respect to Asian cultures is what really resonates with Basco during with his long and storied career, "For the last three decades in Hollywood, I'm really proud that the time and character type tells a story influenced an Asian influence, they really did do an amazing justice to the homeland."

Basco's character was one of the most layered in the entire Avatar: The Last Airbender series, and Basco put the same care into his performance that the creators did when writing his arcs. With this kind of teamwork and respect from the entire team, it's no mystery now as to why this is such a huge franchise 15 years later. But what do you think? What are your favorite parts of Avatar: The Last Airbender? Let us know your thoughts in the comments [...]!


From ComicBook:

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Dante Basco Explains Why Zuko Is Such a Unique Character

The Prince of the Fire Nation is one of the most interesting characters of Avatar The Last Airbender, and we recently had the opportunity to chat with the voice actor that brought Prince Zuko to life, Dante Basco, who explained just what made the character so riveting. Zuko's journey from a hero to a villain was a long one, exploring the inner depths of his character across the three seasons of the popular Nickelodeon animated series. Though his animated journey may be at an end, the fifteenth anniversary of the series has fans revisiting some of the story's biggest moments!

As a part of the series "birthday" celebration, a steelbook blu-ray collection of the whole cartoon has been released. With a slick cover and new features and collectibles, fans have a lot to look forward to in this latest visitation to the series. Dante Basco, the voice actor that brought Zuko to life had this to say about what made the disgraced Fire Nation Prince such an interesting character at the end of the day:

"Zuko is so fascinating because I'm like, "first I wanted to choose Zuko. I just figured he was going to be the bad guy of the show. Cool, becoming to play the bad guy", and just like everyone else who watched the show, I was surprised and smitten by him, and got to really see who this character was, and he taught me a lot of lessons that he learned as lessons himself. And the theme that kind of, I love that I think everyone who loves Zuko loves, is the theme of redemption. And so kind of going on that ride with him over the years that I played the character was amazing. An imperfect character, very imperfect, you take him into a bunch of trials to kind of get it right. And so I think that's kind of very lovable to see someone that's a character here that's not perfect, far from."

While Zuko's story in the original series may have come to a close, the original creators behind the series will be returning to Avatar The Last Airbender with an upcoming live action series for the streaming service of Netflix!

Was Zuko your favorite character in the series of Avatar The Last Airbender? Are you looking forward to the return of the series with the upcoming live action adaptation for Netflix? Feel free to let us know in the comments [...]!


From CBR:

Avatar: The Last Airbender Should Have Done Better By Azula

Fans worldwide have been celebrating the 15th anniversary of the premiere of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the American-anime series that blended the themes of Star Wars and Harry Potter with the influence of Asian mythology and spiritualism. The series transcended the typical Nickelodeon cartoon by telling an epic story over the course of three seasons. It wasn't just the action and world-building that made the show great, but especially the vast cast of compelling and entertaining characters who fans laugh and cried with. From The Gaang to the Cabbage merchant, every character was fascinatingly engaging.

The masterpiece of all characters however was Prince Zuko, the exiled heir to throne of the Fire Nation who starts the series obsessed with capturing the Avatar to restore his honor. In the beginning Zuko was the foil to the classic trio of Aang, Katara and Sokka, but over time the audience understood and empathized with his character. Scarred and shunned by his father, Firelord Ozai, the prince worked tirelessly with his lovable Uncle Iroh to prove himself worthy to his family.

Over the course of the series, the audience witnessed Zuko battle his inner conflict between being longing for acceptance by the kingdom he grew up with or breaking off to become his own man. He makes plenty of mistakes, like at the end of Book Two when he chooses his family over Team Avatar, but learns from them. By the end of Book Three, Zuko is, undeniably, one of the heroes.

Zuko had one of the most impressively written character arcs in not only animated history but in storytelling history period. On the flip-side of his perfect arc was another that was very compelling, but had the potential to be better. That person is, of course, Zuko's sister, Princess Azula.

Azula is not introduced in Avatar: The Last Airbender until the epic Book One finale when Zuko speaks to an unconscious Aang comparing the Avatar to her. "My father says she was born lucky; he says I was lucky to be born." Before this, she can be seen standing next to Iroh in a flashback of Zuko's duel with Ozai. The final frame of Book One introduces Azula as the new villain for Book Two.

The Princess of the Fire Nation essentially takes the torch from Zuko and Commander Zhao as the most visible villain in the series since, while Fire Lord Ozai is the overall series antagonist, Ozai is barely present until Book Three. Azula is an ideal opponent for Zuko and Team Avatar because she's everything Zuko is not. She's gifted in her bending abilities to the point where she can generate lightning. She is the one fully committed to honoring her family and the Fire Nation with absolutely no hesitation, and she is devious and cut-throat enough to do whatever it takes to win in the end.

Azula even recruits her two old friends, Ty Lee and Mai, to be apart of her team to counter Team Avatar. The three come out victorious at the end of Book Two when she severely wounds Aang and brings Zuko back to the family.

Throughout Book Three, Azula's obsession with the throne of the Fire Nation goes to her head. Though she does open up during a brief vacation on Ember Island about her pain and resentment towards her mysteriously absent mother, by the time Sozin's Comet arrives, Azula finds herself alone. She has lost the support of her brother and her two best friends.

The double-edged sword her father gave her by bestowing upon her the title of Fire Lord when he becomes the Phoenix King is the last straw. All she ever wanted was the throne, but when she got it, it was no longer the most powerful seat in the world. The madness of Fire Lord Azula was in full effect. In one of the darkest scenes of the series, the soon-to-be Fire Lord hallucinates her own mother in the mirror, refusing to believe that she loves her. The moment sums up how twisted she really is deep down inside.

Out of all of the key characters in the series, Azula was the worst off in the end. Ozai lost his bending, but was still the same physically and mentally before being locked away for life. Azula is last seen in the series an emotional mess after losing to Zuko and Katara and chained in ice.

Azula's descent into madness was bold, especially for a show aimed at children, but there could have been more to her arc. The Lady Macbeth-esque mad woman with a lust for power resembles a one-dimensional trope that's played out nowadays. And Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are all about anything but one-dimensional characters.

In the closing moments of the series, everyone is enjoying a calm and peaceful celebration. Even Azula's former friends, Ty Lee and Mai, are present. The princess, meanwhile, is still locked away in a mental asylum for the foreseeable future. In subsequent comics, Azula's psychological damage is on full display, especially when she and Zuko search for their mother in The Promise.

Despite memorable appearances by many key Avatar: The Last Airbender characters in The Legend of Korra, Azula's fate is unknown. Korra could have featured Azula's dramatic return and confirmed her ultimate fate. Perhaps she's a crazy old woman in Korra's time. Or, maybe the show could have revealed something better: a reformed, new Azula who has found peace within herself. Someone who may not interact with Zuko very often, but who has moved beyond their past.

While Zuko was always a disappointment and a disgrace to his father, Ozai's rejection ultimately led the prince to break free from the Fire Nation and find his true self. But just as Zuko faced abuse from his father, Azula also suffered because of him, just in different ways. Azula was the one who was brought up and brainwashed into the tyrannical world of the Fire Nation. Instead of being shunned or injured by her family, Ozai molded Azula into his image as a ruthless firebender seeking ultimate power. The lasting psychological damage is clear at the end of the series, and it's not clear if the young girl, only 14 during the events of The Last Airbender, will ever fully recover.

What if instead of spending the rest of her life as a lunatic who needs to be physically restrained, Azula receives mental and spiritual treatment to recognize the error of her ways? What if the worst of all villains (besides her dad, that is) turns out to be the last thing anyone expected: a hero? This is still an era where iconic female villains like The Wicked Witch of the West and Maleficent have gotten adaptations made from their perspective, why not Princess Azula as well? With both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra series continuing in comic-book form, an Azula story-line that chronicled her redemption could be as incredible of a character arc as her brother's.



Dante Basco: Making it in Hollywood

Who’s to resist a book title as catchy as “From Rufio to Zuko” by Fil-Am actor Dante Basco (Not a Cult, LA, 2019)? The book even boasts of two different covers, depending on the reader’s preference of either Rufio or Zuko, whose images alternate on the covers. His fans and followers know that Rufio was Basco’s initial role as leader of the Lost Boys in Steven Spielberg’s movie “Hook.” But as Zuko in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” a Nickelodeon hit, Basco established himself as a cultural icon to reckon with. Between these roles, there were movies with Antonio Banderas and Robin Williams.

In an armchair conversation with Tim Yap during the Manila House launch in BGC, Basco revealed that although he felt he was too young at 42 to write a memoir, he saw his story of his 30-year experience as a struggling actor in Hollywood as one that should inspire other Filipinos and the next generation of artists to attempt to do what he has succeeded in—to demonstrate that it is all possible, his having gone from dancing to voice acting to filmmaking, and the role of family and culture in his career.

Basco has come a long way from his breakdancing days as a child street performer in San Francisco along with his brothers. He moved to Hollywood with his mom’s question: “You guys want to take the leap and become little fish in the big ocean of Hollywood?”

Basco found that his Filipino identity had to be “malleable” for him to get a break anywhere; there were no roles for Filipinos, as this nationality was not even known. When the role called for a Chinese character, he proudly pointed out his Chinese roots, his paternal grandmother being part-Chinese. When a Mexican was called for, he capitalized on the country’s Spanish colonization, harping on his being Latino, too. So initially, Basco was everyone from Puerto Rican to Korean to any other Asian role, until Spielberg cast him as the leader of a multicultural gang of misfits. “I didn’t get to be Filipino till the age of 21,” said Basco.

Basco credits the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” for opening the door to Asian-Americans in the industry. Now on his 12th visit to the country in the past two and half years, Basco, 44, said: “As a Fil-Am, I know what it means to be American, and now I want to know what it means to be Filipino.”

With his love for poetry, “forever a part of my life,” Basco ended his media meet with a poetry performance of “Where you from?” a work that captures what met his family in Los Angeles. He uses poetry when he addresses student audiences, tracing the profound influence of the movie “Dead Poets Society” in his life. That led him in 1998 to start a Poetry Lounge in his living room, originally Dante’s Poetry Lounge and today known as DPL, or Da Poetry Lounge, in Los Angeles.

Bravo, Dante Basco—your success opens doors for Fil-Am artists. As he wrote, “We should fill the sky with our own stars.”



Avatar: The Last Airbender's Zuko Discussed Live-Action Series With Creators

Avatar: The Last Airbender alum Dante Basco revealed he spoke with the show's creators about the Netflix series and that he wants to be involved.

Back in Fall 2018, Netflix announced a live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender from creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Now, as the series gears up for production, original Zuko voice actor Dante Basco revealed he has spoken with them about the adaptation -- and that he hopes to be involved.

"Yeah, we've had some conversations. I mean, I love those guys. I trust those guys. It's the stuff they came up with. They're involved," he told CBR. "It's going to be fascinating, and, you know, I'm all for the Avatar family. So I hope sooner or later I'll be involved in some way, shape or form."

Basco, of course, has been involved with the franchise since its inception. In addition to voicing Zuko, the Prince of the Fire Nation, he returned to voice his character's grandson Iroh in the sequel series Legend of Korra. He continues to be involved with Avatar fans through his social media and by participating in fan conventions and events. It wouldn't be a surprise, then, to see him play some kind of role in the upcoming live-action adaptation.

He also offered some advice to the actor who will play Zuko in the live-action series -- a role that has not been announced as cast just yet. "As far as Zuko's story, in the end of the day, it's a story of redemption. So, it's okay to be not liked. There are things you're going to do that's going to be unlikable and understand why he's doing everything he's doing," he said. "He's always trying to do the right thing all the time, even though it may be the wrong thing. At that time in his life, he feels like it's the right thing."

Through its unique fantasy world, Avatar: The Last Airbender has continued to attract and maintain an enthusiastic fanbase since it aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. The animated series spawned comic books, video games and a sequel series. However, the live-action film directed by M. Night Shyamalan earned the ire of fans for its weak script and CGI, atop what many saw to be a series of problematic creative choices and the whitewashing of its characters. With DiMartino and Konietzko involved, though, the Netflix series may offer live-action Avatar a second chance.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Complete Series Blu-ray 15th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook Collection is now on sale.


More Nick: Netflix to Host Open Casting Call for Live-Action 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Series!

Originally published: Thursday, February 20, 2020.
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