Air, Earth, Fire and/or Water.
Image credit: Avatarnews.co.
Back in February of 2021, Nickelodeon and Paramount announced the formation of Avatar Studios, which I give my two cents about not long after. Led by series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino the studio was formed as a response to both series’ massive success on Netflix and Konietzko and DiMartino severing ties with the live-action adaption the streamer is developing over creative differences. Guess they’d rather deal with the devil they already knew!
Anyhoo, since its formation, news surrounding the studio has been understandably quiet. They had just started and animated projects take a while to develop. We have, however, gotten quite a doozy of a scoop lately. We knew the studio intended to bring us both series and movies but now we ‘know’ that 3 theatrical movie projects are in active development. I thought it would be fun to go over what we know about these 3 alleged projects and discuss the direction they could take.
Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. Only a few short hours before this post was meant to go live Janet Varney, Korra’s voice actress, confirmed in a panel at San Diego Comic-Con (which I hadn’t even realized was a thing this year) that the first movie would focus on Aang and his friends, invalidating a fair bit of what I had written.
So yeah, after some last minute rewrites and change in structure, let’s dive in and get this discussion/prediction post a-rolling!
Confirmed: Avatar Aang and friends
The only one of these three that has been confirmed is the first one, which we know because of the “announcement” (read: LinkedIn profile update) of Lauren Montgomery as its director. We also know that it will have an earth bending theme thanks to concept art shown at Annecy International Film Animation Festival.
Originally, people speculated that this movie would be about Avatar Kyoshi but, as I stated only a few paragraphs ago, that got debunked.
What could the movie be about? As far as we know no major conflict arose during Aang’s lifetime after the end of the 100-year war. However, we do know that Aang and the gang were involved in the formation of Republic City, the main setting of Korra, so perhaps we’ll see that story play out? Maybe there was some other conflict that popped up that, while not earth-shattering in scope was big enough for Team Avatar to unite again to deal with what we just haven’t heard about up until this point?
Another quick thought: remember that Comic-Con poster showing Team
Avatar as young adults? Wouldn’t be fun if they set the movie during this time
in their lives. A fun little check-up with the gang at roughly the same age the
original fans now are.
|The poster in question.|
Option 1: Avatar Kyoshi
Still, even if Kyoshi won’t be the focus of the first movie, she could still get a movie. There are still 2 slots we get to fill of the three we know the studio is currently working on.
Who is Avatar Kyoshi again? Kyoshi was the Earth Kingdom-born Avatar that preceded Aang and the direct predecessor of Avatar Roku. She was the founder of both the Dai Li and the Kyoshi Warriors and appeared to Aang a handful of times during his lifetime. Because of this legacy and these handfuls of appearances she’s one of the Avatars we know a lot about, relatively speaking, and became quite liked by the fans. Liked enough that she got 2 novels chronicling her adventures in the last few years.
So yeah, I can see why she was chosen to headline her movie.
What will the plot be? Well, not an adaptation of said novels that’s for sure. During an interview, K & D (yes, I’m officially calling them that) stated that they are “not adapting the YA novels into a movie or TV show” but are instead “feeding off of them”
I guess that the movie will feed into some of the stuff we already know with characters that were introduced in the novel but with a story that’s entirely new and original to the movie. Perhaps a story that concludes with the formation of the Kyoshi Warriors? That would tie back neatly to her introduction and could be a way to bring in the Dai Li as well.
Option 2: Fire Lord Zuko
There is one character in the mix for the movie treatment that isn’t an Avatar: Fire Lord Zuko.
Zuko is, without a doubt, the character with the most development in the entire series. Starting as the hot-headed and impulsive bad guy in book 1 and seemingly nothing more. The more the series went on though, layer by layer was pulled back to reveal a tortured young man with a good heart raised in a toxic family. His story is a moving and complex one that gave rise to a very strong and interesting character that, honestly, made him just as much the focus of the show as Aang was.
By the end of the original series, his journey had ended. Well, almost ended. The final left one plot point unresolved: the fate of his mother. His mother left him when he was still young, the result of a deal she made with Ozai to save Zuko’s life. While Zuko pledged himself to find his mother, that didn’t happen in the series proper. If it wasn’t for that earlier comment of K & D, this would’ve been the perfect story to tackle.
With that not being an option, I got to think a bit more creatively and I think I’ve got something that could be interesting to explore. Remember that Comic Con poster showing Team Avatar as young adults? Wouldn’t be fun if they set the movie during this time in their lives. A fun little check-up with the gang at roughly the same age the original fans now are.
Perhaps some problem pops up within the Fire Nation that puts Fire Lord Zuko’s mettle to the test. Something like his sister coming back to sow chaos together with a group of like-minded Fire Nation citizens? I mean, part of the reason why the Fire Lords kept the nation's war machine going for over a hundred years was by indoctrination. Downplaying the war’s atrocities and presenting it as some sort of way to show the nation's greatness to the world. Got to imagine some people never let go of that ideology. That could be an interesting angle to explore.
From the options here I think this movie is the least likely to
happen. With the confirmed ‘Aang and the gang’ movie I feel like they would
roll in a Zuko story in that movie. We’ll just have to wait and see.
|Another thought I just got: maybe we’ll see Zuko obtaining his dragon we see in The Legend of Korra?|
Option 3: Avatar Korra
Avatar Korra is also in the mix to get her own movie. Why would they make a movie focused on her over Avatar Aang? I think because K & D want another chance at giving her story an ending on their terms.
The Legend of Korra, I liked but not to the same degree as The Last Airbender. I think this can be equally acquitted to both creative decisions made by K & D and the Korra crew just not working out the way they wanted to and Nickelodeon’s interference.
The focus on trope-filled romance in the first two seasons is something K & D come out saying they kind of regret. People also point towards the series leaning much heavier into the anime side and tropes, like big robots, and the switch to the industrial revolution like society as negatives which I sort of agree with. It’s cool and all but I do agree it doesn’t quite fit.
Nickelodeon’s interference also didn’t help. From surprise budget cuts to putting the show on Nick.com where in the middle of season 3, Nick didn’t do the show any favours. Even the beginning was difficult for the series as K & D had to fight hard to get Korra, a woman, to be the focus. Sorry for the lack of sources by the way. I’m doing this part of the top of my head and can’t find the sources due to the time that has passed. If I’ve made any mistakes, than I do apologize in advance.
Unlike what some might think though, Nick was supportive of the idea that Korra and Asami would end the series in a romantic relationship, but only up to a point. Let me remind you that back then, same-sex couples in a kids show was a no go let alone when it involves main characters. K & D have stated that, now that they’re focusing on streaming, they hope to have more creative freedom.
With this in mind and the current state of same-sex relationships in media, the movie could actually show the two in a relationship and sharing a kiss.
Story wise? I don’t have much. The show didn’t really leave any plot threads dangling and that on its own isn’t enough to write an entire movie about. They’ll have to throw something else in, a new villain that pops up that brings Team Avatar Korra edition back together again. A very basic prediction yes but honestly this one was more about explaining what I think are the reasons behind giving Korra another go in movie format.
So that’s that. That’s what we, as of the time of this writing, now. Avatar Studios is working on at least two movies, the first of which will be directed by Lauren Montgomery and they themselves have teased with an Earth-bending logo. The rest? All speculation is based on reports from an insider that later got corroborated by others. In short: speculation.
Still, it sounds like an interesting line-up and I’ll be sure to keep my eye on any developments. Left or right, these three movies or not, I’ll be in the theatre when Avatar Studios brings its first movie to the cinemas!