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Netflix Fights ‘Korra’ Backlash After ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Begins Streaming

When all three seasons of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" debuted on Netflix this month, it reignited a heated debate among fans over the sequel series.

"The Legend of Korra"

“The Legend of Korra”

Nickelodeon

Fans of the Nickelodeon animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” rejoiced this month when all three seasons of the show made their Netflix debut May 15, but it didn’t take long for backlash to stir on social media. The Netflix debut of “Avatar” has reignited a heated debate among fans over the sequel series, “The Legend of Korra.” Backlash against “Korra” became so widespread on Twitter that Netflix got involved and defended the show through its @NXOnNetflix account, which is the streamer’s official “home of all things geek.”

The original “Avatar” series ran for three seasons between 2005 and 2008 and garnered widespread critical acclaim. The show won various industry prizes each season, including the Annie Award for Best Animated Television Production for Children with its third and final run of episodes. Four years after the series finale, creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko revisited the franchise with the “Korra” sequel series. “Korra” ran for four seasons from 2012 to 2014 and was also a critical favorite, although the change in story direction irked some fans of the original series.

“Korra” is set 70 years after the events of “Avatar,” so the shows greatly differ in protagonists and settings. “Avatar” follows the adventures of a 12-year-old boy named Aang who is the last survivor of the Air Nomads. “Korra” picks up seven decades later to follow the adventures of Aang’s eponymous successor, a headstrong 17-year-old girl. That the “Avatar” creators decided not to continue Aang’s story in the sequel and instead chose to follow a new character has often been the center of fan backlash, as has “Korra’s” increased focus on inclusive storytelling. The “Korra” finale is infamous for the controversy it earned over the romantic pairing of Korra and Asami, two women of color. Den of Geek writer Michael Mammano did an excellent job in 2014 analyzing the homophobic undertones present within the “Korra” backlash.

As mentioned above, “Korra” backlash started ramping up on social media in the aftermath of “Avatar’s” Netflix debut, so much so that new essays were published over the last week defending “Korra” and urging viewers to give it a second chance. Netflix first got involved in the social media debate by responding to one fan who posted artwork of the original “Avatar” characters grown up. The fan caption read: “Imagine an alternate universe where four seasons of this dropped instead of ‘Korra.’ Yeah, I’d wanna live there.” The post leaned into backlash claiming the sequel series should’ve continued Aang’s story and not focused on a new character.

Netflix issued a response to the fan, writing: “Korra’s story was important. Aang’s story had been told.” The reply has generated over 45,000 likes and counting. The streamer didn’t stop there and continued to respond to fans expressing negative opinions about “Korra.” Netflix told one fan, “Both [series] were important and essential to the ‘Avatar’ universe. No two avatars have the same perspective or growth.”

One “Avatar” fan mentioned that Netflix is developing a live-action “Avatar” series, implying that’s proof the streamer values the original series more than it does “Korra.” Netflix shut the assumption down by responding, “Korra’s story being important doesn’t mean that Aang’s isn’t.”

"Avatar: The Last Airbender"

“Avatar: The Last Airbender”

Nickolodeon

Netflix announced in September 2018 it’s producing a live-action “Avatar” series with original creators DiMartino and Konietzko serving as showrunners and executive producers.

“We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast,” the creators said in a statement at the time — M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 film adaptation had been whitewashed. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”

Netflix has not announced a release date for its live-action “Avatar” series, but all three seasons of the original animated series are now streaming.

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