Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have penned an open letter explaining to fans that the two are “no longer involved” with Netflix’s live action adaptation.
On August 12th, DiMartino published “An open letter to Avatar: The Last Airbender fans,” wherein the veteran animation director revealed that “after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.”
DiMartino wrote, “Many of you have been asking me for updates about the Avatar live-action Netflix series. I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved with the project. In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.”
According to DiMartino, the pair departed from the project after finding that Netflix’s commitment “to honor our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series […] did not go as we had hoped.”
DiMartino wrote, “When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”
Explaining that he tried “to be like an Air Nomad and adapt” to Netflix’s changes, DiMartino laments that “even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”
He stated, “Look, things happen. Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change. And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”
DiMartino recognized that he “couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded.” This resuled in a decision that “was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.”
He wrote, “I started to reevaluate what is truly important in my life and what I wanted to do with what’s left of it. I took some advice from Uncle Iroh. I looked inward and started asking myself the big question: “Who are you and what do you want?”
He then added, “I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn’t. I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded. So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.”
While DiMartino entertains the idea that “Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good,” he makes it clear that “whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”
“And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make,” he stated.
The open letter concluded with an assurance from DiMartino that “this doesn’t mean the end of my involvement in the Avatar universe.” He then offered some words of wisdom from Uncle Iroh.
He wrote, “I also want to be clear that this doesn’t mean the end of my involvement in the Avatar universe. These stories and characters are important to me and the renewed interest and excitement in Avatar and Korra has been inspiring to see.”
“Writing this letter has left me with a very heavy heart. I know many of you will be disappointed and frustrated by this news. I get it. I share your disappointment and frustration. I also recognize this creative setback is small compared to the problems we’re all facing as a society right now,” he said.
Finally, he added, “Thankfully, Iroh offered some wisdom for that, too: ‘Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving you will come to a better place.’”
As of writing, Netflix has offered little news regarding the live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, with the last update being that original series composer Jeremy Zuckerman would return to provide music for the remake.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is currently available for streaming on Netflix, with sequel series The Legend of Korra heading to the service in August.