Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Netflix subscribers will be getting all four of the elements when all three seasons of Nickelodeon classic “Avatar: The Last Airbender” hits the streaming service May 15.
“Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which ran for 61 episodes and concluded in 2008, takes place in an Asiatic-inspired world split into four nations, each represented by a particular element. The story centers on Aang, the titular Avatar and last surviving Airbender, who was capable of using all four elements and is destined to save the world after the Fire Nation begins a genocidal campaign across the planet.
The series, which was influenced by anime and American cartoons, was lauded by critics, particularly for the delicate handling of its themes, including the sanctity of life, fatalism, and totalitarianism, which are rarely covered in children’s media. “Avatar” also features a large cast of memorable and beloved characters, such as exiled Fire Nation prince Zuko, his wise uncle Iroh, blind Earthbending prodigy Toph Beifong, and Water Nation siblings Katara and Sokka.
The success of “Avatar” led to a sequel series, “The Legend of Korra,” which also enjoyed overwhelming critical success and is remembered as one of the most notable children’s series to feature LGTBQ characters.
Netflix’s “Avatar” pick-up will likely overjoy longtime fans, given that the series has been notoriously absent from streaming services over the years. Though the series was available on Amazon Prime Video in 2017, it’s since been absent from prominent streaming services. (Though it can still be streamed on Prime Video, doing so requires an additional subscription to the NickHits channel, which costs $7.99 per month).
The series’ impending move to Netflix was announced several months after Nickolodeon inked a multi-year deal with Netflix. Netflix is also working on a live-action adaption of the original “Avatar” show with the original series’ creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who will executive produce the new project. Additional details about that project, including a potential release date, haven’t been announced.
Netflix’s upcoming live-action “Avatar” series will be the franchise’s second live-action effort, following M. Night Shyamalan’s infamous 2010 “The Last Airbender” film, which suffered a scathing critical reception and significant fan backlash. Shyamalan’s film was intended to be the first installment in an “Avatar” film trilogy, but sequel plans were scrapped due to the film’s negative reception.