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The Last Airbender is the 2010 live-action film adaptation of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was the first part of a planned film trilogy adapting the three seasons of the original animated series. It was marketed and released in a joint effort between Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies.[4] It was produced, written, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan; others involved include producers Sam Mercer and Frank Marshall; executive producers Kathleen Kennedy, Scott Aversano, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko; and co-producer Jose L. Rodriguez. Filming began in mid-March 2009, and the film itself was released on July 1, 2010, in both 2D and 3D.

Upon release, the film adaptation was near-universally panned by critics, fans of the original animated series, and even viewers of the film who were unfamiliar with the series, though it did receive some praise for its visual effects and design. Despite the negative reviews, the movie was still commercially successful with a $319,123,021 intake worldwide. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 16th, 2010, which were advertised on Nickelodeon before reruns of the series were shown between November 2010 and March 2011. By March, however, copies were no longer printed. It was then premiered on the Nickelodeon channel where ratings were abysmal, and thus sold to a movie channel, where it aired on January 21, 2013, receiving minimal recognition.[5]


Main article: Synopsis of The Last Airbender

The film tells the story of Aang, a thirteen-year-old[nb 2] airbender who runs away from his destiny as the Avatar. After a hundred years in suspended animation, Aang travels to the Northern Water Tribe on the other side of the world with his newfound friends, Katara and Sokka, to find a master to teach him waterbending. In his absence, the Fire Nation, now ruled by Fire Lord Ozai, has been waging a seemingly endless war against the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribe, having already destroyed the Air Nomads. As the Avatar, he is hunted by Zuko, an exiled prince of the Fire Nation seeking to redeem his honor, and the Fire Nation itself, led by Commander Zhao.


  • Noah Ringer as Aang: The thirteen-year-old[nb 2] Avatar and the last surviving airbender. Ringer is a Texas taekwondo champion who won the part in an open audition. He was cast after submitting a homemade DVD of himself practicing taekwondo, and was 12 years old during the shooting of this film. This was his debut.
  • Nicola Peltz as Katara: A fifteen-year-old[nb 2] waterbender, the last one from her Southern Water Tribe. Peltz was highly praised at her audition by Shyamalan and was fourteen years old during the shooting of this film. Shyamalan said that he did not want to do the movie without her.
  • Jackson Rathbone as Sokka: A seventeen-year-old[nb 2] warrior from the Southern Water Tribe, and brother to Katara. Rathbone is primarily known for his portrayal of the vampire Jasper Hale in the Twilight films.
  • Dev Patel as Zuko: An eighteen-year-old[nb 2] firebending prince of the Fire Nation, banished by his father. Patel replaced Jesse McCartney for the role of Prince Zuko as McCartney was unable to take part due to conflicting scheduling.[6] Shyamalan was impressed by Patel's acting performance in Slumdog Millionaire and cast him in the role. Young Zuko was played by Rohan Shah.
  • Aasif Mandvi as Zhao: A high-ranking general of the Fire Nation who led the Siege of the North. Mandvi is an Indian-born, British-raised actor and comedian. He is a regular correspondent on The Daily Show.
  • Shaun Toub as Iroh: A former general of the Fire Nation, brother to Ozai, and uncle to Zuko and Azula. Toub is an Iranian-born television and film actor of Persian Jewish background with previous roles in films such as Bad Boys, Iron Man and Crash.
  • Cliff Curtis as Ozai: The Fire Lord, the monarch of the Fire Nation. Curtis is a New Zealander with Māori heritage. He previously had starring roles in New Zealand films such as Whale Rider.
  • Seychelle Gabriel as Yue: The Princess who led the Northern Water Tribe. She would later go on to voice Asami Sato in The Legend of Korra.
  • Katharine Houghton as Katara's Grandma: The paternal grandmother to Sokka and Katara.
  • Francis Guinan as Master Pakku: A master and the leader of waterbenders for the Northern Water Tribe.
  • Damon Gupton as Gyatso: A senior airbending monk from the Southern Air Temple who was the guardian and father figure to Aang.
  • Summer Bishil as Azula: A firebending prodigy, daughter to Ozai, and sister to Zuko. Bishil is an American-born actress. Her mother is White American, and her father is a Saudi citizen of Indian ancestry. She rose to fame by starring in the movie Towelhead.
  • John Noble as the Dragon Spirit: A spiritual guide for Aang in the Spirit World.
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Momo:[7] A winged lemur thought to be extinct, and an animal companion to Aang.
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Appa:[7] A six-legged flying bison, possibly the last surviving one, and an animal companion to Aang.
  • Keong Sim as earthbending father: An unnamed minor character who served a similar role to Tyro from the episode "Imprisoned".
  • Isaac Jin Solstein as earthbending boy: An unnamed minor character who served a similar role to Haru from the episode "Imprisoned".
  • Randall Duk Kim as the old man in temple: An earth villager who often visited the Northern Air Temple.

Casting controversy[]

Main article: Casting controversy

There was an ongoing controversy in the Avatar fan community over the casting choices, largely due to the casting of Caucasian actors over ones of primarily Asian descent.


Main article: Movie novelizations

The novelization was released on May 25, 2010,[8] before the film was released in July 1, 2010.[9] Curiously, there were differences in the novelized story from the movie itself, including scenes not included, or deleted from, the movie (such as the Kyoshi Warriors; newly added scenes in the movie (Azula's epilogue); and alternate outcomes of the story (the destruction of Fire Nation ships by the wave). Based on the dates, the novelization was for the movie before it was announced to be revised for 3D purposes[10] after the printing and distribution of the novelization was underway. Indeed, test screening reviews from Ain't It Cool News[11][12] contained elements covered in the novelization but not in the final cut, such as Zhao punching the fish to death instead of stabbing it with a dagger. The theatrical version of the movie is estimated to be 20-30 minutes shorter than the novelized version, which may be what Shyamalan alluded to when he said "I'm dying to make a two-hour movie, I just haven't earned it yet",[13] and has been suggested to accommodate the limited availability of 3D screens.[14]

Adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender[]

Main article: Adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan Interview by Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino

After M. Night Shyamalan was attached to the film trilogy, he was "interviewed" by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino.

In a video "interview" of M. Night Shyamalan conducted by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, the film trilogy was planned to be 6+ hours long, which gave 2+ hours for the first movie (though the final running time is 103 minutes). Due to the short allotted running time, the film does not cover the entire first season of the original animated series, even though the film was titled "Book One: Water". With such rich and complex story elements, rather than a "comprehensive adaptation" like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, essential elements were selected and rewoven into its own story and direction, similar to a "selective adaptation" approach with a long series like Spider-man and X-Men.


Main article: Development for The Last Airbender

On January 8, 2007, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies announced that they had signed M. Night Shyamalan to write, direct and produce a trilogy of live-action films based on the series; the first of these films was to be a faithful adaptation of the main characters' adventures in Book One. The film was in a dispute with James Cameron's film Avatar regarding title ownership, which resulted in the film being titled The Last Airbender.


Main article: Reception to The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender has received a nearly universal negative response from critics. Soon after release in 2010, it was sitting at 7% and 6% from Top and All Critics on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively.[15] A decade later, this score has been reduced to 5% and 2%, respectively.[16] The film was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards, a parody of the Oscars where accolades are given to the worst films of the year, and won five:[17] Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor (for Jackson Rathbone), and Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3-D. Worst Sequel, Remake, or Adaptation and Worst Screen Couple/Ensemble were lost to Sex and the City 2, while Worst Supporting Actress went to Jessica Alba. It was nominated with several other awards including Choice Summer Movie for the 2010 Teen Choice Awards,[18] International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA),[19] the 32nd Young Artist Award,[20] the 2011 MTV Movie Awards,[21] and the 3rd Annual Coming of Age Movie Awards[22] of which, Noah Ringer won for the Best Actor.[23] Many fans of the original series have demanded a remake or reboot of the film. Fans of the film itself have banded together in support of the movie at various sites, many of them asked to release an extended cut of the movie.[24][25]

In response to criticism of the film, Shyamalan said in an interview with On Demand Entertainment in 2010 that the reason for the film not being well received is to be attributed to his more European sensibilities and the difference in pacing and culture, adding that the critics simply did not get him.[26] In a later interview with IGN in 2015, he once again defended his movie by emphasizing that he made it for its original audience, "nine and ten-year olds", rather than "[betraying] the innocence of the piece" by "[doing] the Transformers version and have Megan Fox."[27] This explanation, however, was in turn attacked by Mark Harrison on Den Of Geek, who threw out Shyamalan's "it was for kids" excuse, pointing out that while the original series was for children due to its bright, colorful, and funny nature, "None of that is true of the film version", and that the movie "went alarmingly and hilariously wrong on its way to the big screen." Despite the harsh criticism, Harrison did praise Shyamalan for standing by his film rather than "throwing a previous disappointment under the bus to sell his next project as better".[28]

DVD/Blu Ray[]

Main article: The Last Airbender DVD/Blu-ray

The DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack was released on November 16, 2010, from Paramount Home Entertainment of the film. It boasts over two hours of in-depth, behind-the-scenes special features including a nine-part documentary on the making of the film, a featurette entitled "Origins of the Avatar", which documents the creative transformation of the hit animated series to the big screen, picture-in-picture insights from the cast and crew that deconstruct some of the amazing action and visual effects sequences, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. A 3D Blu-ray version was also released on the same day, but as a Best Buy exclusive release.

Deleted scenes[]

Film - Kyoshi Warriors

The Kyoshi Warriors were initially intended to be part of the movie, though were cut out due to the film's 3D conversion, requiring a shorter run-time.

M. Night Shyamalan's adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender was originally approximately half an hour longer than the final released cut. Deleted footage includes more scenes from the series and more development for the characters. Much of this can be seen in the early trailers, which feature several clips from the original edit. Many of these scenes can also be seen in the manga released at the time of the film, as well as the film novelization.

This was done for various reasons; one was a rather unfavorable early test screening, and the other was the film's last minute 3D conversion. To minimize the effort required for the conversion, many scenes were re-shot to shorten the amount of time necessary for the story to be told. Additionally, some of the original cinematography was replaced by more basic shots.

It should be noted that, before this, nearly every scene had something cut out from it, or some little change enacted. The following list includes major changes, and is not comprehensive.

  • Originally the film opened with a near-exact recreation of the show's introduction, with even more exposition of Sozin's Comet and Katara's origins. It was to replace the narration played over their trek in the theatrical cut.
  • The first scene was cut down slightly as well. Katara and Sokka originally had a brief ride in their boat before Katara began her practice.
  • Kanna originally tended to Aang before Katara entered the hovel. They, and Sokka, had a brief conversation as well.
  • Katara and Aang's conversation was cut down briefly. The conversation at one point shifted to Katara's necklace as well as her mother.
  • Like the series, Zuko originally had a suiting up montage before invading the Southern Water Tribe.
  • As the Fire Nation arrived, Aang originally played a small game with the children of the Southern Water Tribe to keep them calm. This is in the final film to an extent as the children are still huddled around them when the Fire Nation guard bursts in.
  • Katara, Kanna, and Sokka's conversation was re-shot for the theatrical cut. The dialogue of the original scene dwelt more on Katara and Sokka's urgency to get to Aang, and the tying together of their destinies by their finding of him, as seen in the Japanese trailer. This includes the trailer line "He will need you. And we all need him."
  • Aang's rescue had a bit of dialogue cut out. Originally he was to pet Appa's head upon reuniting with him. Additionally, Aang also talked to Sokka about airbending.
  • As Katara's narration was entirely a post-production element, all occurrences of it were originally dialogue scenes.
  • The Dragon Spirit's dialogue was redubbed. Additionally, Aang originally fell into Katara's arms upon exiting the Spirit World.
  • After they save a village in the Earth Kingdom, villagers come out in joyous celebration which leads to Aang meeting a fortuneteller, based on Aunt Wu, who attempts to contact Gyatso's spirit. She does not succeed, but goes into a trance instead after being taken over by the Dragon Spirit, who warns Aang that he must save the Northern Water Tribe city in the North Pole if he wishes to defeat the Fire Nation. Additionally, as Katara, Sokka, and Aang leave the village, Sokka spots the Kyoshi Warriors shadowing them.
  • Katara originally lost her necklace during the prison break. Zuko later found it during his search.
  • As Aang left the campsite, Katara and Sokka are attacked by Fire Nation guards. They are saved by the Kyoshi Warriors, who stay with them until Aang returns from the Northern Air Temple.
  • Aang's visit with the Dragon Spirit was greatly cut down. The spirit originally explained Sozin's Comet and warned Aang that his feelings for Katara must be controlled, and that it will conflict with his duty as Avatar.
  • Zhao originally tempted Aang with a bucket of water, which informed him that he could not bend water yet.
  • As Zuko lay unconscious, Aang finds Katara's necklace on him. Zuko promptly awakens and chases Aang away with firebending.
  • Aang gives Katara's necklace back to its rightful owner as he arrives back at the campsite.
  • Zhao and Ozai's conversation was re-shot with a very different ending. Ozai, in the original version, ordered Zuko's death.
  • The arrival at the Northern Water Tribe was completely dubbed over with narration in the final version.
  • In the original version, Katara is seen sparring with Master Pakku before Pakku's 'flow like water' speech.
    • Sokka and Yue's conversation was cut down slightly as well.
  • Once again, the Dragon Spirit's dialogue was changed.
  • Katara, Sokka, and Pakku's involvement in the climax was cut down a bit. All three had scenes of battle, and Pakku was shown to be captured by Fire Nation soldiers.
  • The ending was re-shot. Originally, a messenger was to inform Ozai of the fail at the Northern Water Tribe. Ozai sets the field around him ablaze to prove a point and the film cuts to black as he walks against the fire. This was replaced with Azula's epilogue in the theatrical edit.

Awards and nominations[]



ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards 2011:

Top Box Office Films: James Newton Howard


International Film Music Critics Award (IFMCA) 2010:

Film Composer of the Year: James Newton Howard


Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film: James Newton Howard


Film Music Composition of the Year: James Newton Howard


Razzie Awards 2011:

Worst Picture: (Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Blinding Edge Pictures, Kennedy/Marshall Company)


Worst Supporting Actor: Jackson Rathbone and for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


Worst Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan (written by)

Based on the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV Series 2005-2008) created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.


Worst Director: M. Night Shyamalan


Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3-D


Worst Supporting Actor: Dev Patel


Worst Supporting Actress: Nicola Peltz


Worst Screen Couple/Worst Screen Ensemble: The entire cast


Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: (Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Blinding Edge Pictures, Kennedy/Marshall Company)


Teen Choice Awards 2010:

Choice Summer Movie


Village Voice Film Poll 2010:

Worst Film


Young Artist Awards 2011:

Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor Noah Ringer


Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress Seychelle Gabriel


Golden Trailer Awards 2010:

Best Summer Blockbuster 2010 TV Spot Paramount Pictures mOcean



Main article: Transcript:The Last Airbender


  1. Frank Marshall had dismissed this $280 million combined figure as a rumor.[2]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 According to the movie novelization, Aang was biologically thirteen years old, Katara was fifteen, Sokka was seventeen, and Zuko was eighteen. In contrast with the original series wherein Aang was biologically twelve years old, Katara was fourteen, Sokka was fifteen, and Zuko was sixteen.


  1. Claudia Eller. The Last airbender carries Shyamalan into new territory. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 28, 2010. Retrieved on June 25, 2010.
  2. LeDoctor. LeDoctor on Twitter. Twitter.com. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
  3. The Last Airbender (2010). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on July 8, 2010.
  4. Pamela McClintock P; Tatiana Siegel. Par team for Airbender; duo to release Shyamalan's live-action film.. Variety. Retrieved on April 15, 2008.
  5. The Last Airbender Blu-ray information.. amazon.ca.
  6. Micheal Fleming. Shyamalan cast floats on 'air'; 'Slumdog' star Dev Patel joins Paramount film.. Variety. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Last Airbender - Cast and Crew. The Kennedy/Marshall Company. Retrieved on August 1, 2011.
  8. The Last Airbender movie novelization. amazon.com.
  9. The Last Airbender id.. Box Office Mojo.
  10. 'The Last Airbender' to Get 3-D Treatment. blogs.wsj.com. Retrieved on April 22, 2010.
  11. M. Night had a test screening of THE LAST AIRBENDER in Phoenix, AZ tonight - here's 2 different views.... aintitcool.com. Retrieved on February 4, 2010.
  12. Three AICN Readers -vs- THE LAST AIRBENDER!!. aintitcool.com. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  13. M Night Shyamalan on The Last Airbender.. nymag.com.
  14. The Last Airbender fans. lastairbenderfans.com.
  15. The Last Airbender (2010). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on July 8, 2010.
  16. The Last Airbender (2010). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on July 8, 2020.
  17. The Razzie Awards: "The Last Airbender" is the best winner, er, loser. LA Times. Retrieved on February 26, 2011.
  18. Gil Kaufman. 'Twilight Saga: Eclipse' Leads New Teen Choice 2010 Nominees. MTV News. Retrieved on July 12, 2010.
  19. IFMCA announces its 2010 nominees for scoring excellence. IFMCA Press Release. Retrieved on February 11, 2011.
  20. 32nd Annual Young Artist Awards - Nominations/Special Awards. Archived from the original on February 22, 2011. Retrieved on March 1, 2011.
  21. 2011 MTV Movie Awards. MTV. Retrieved on April 29, 2011.
  22. 3rd Annual Coming of Age Movie Awards. TheSkyKid.Com (2011-04-08). Retrieved on May 5, 2011.
  23. 3rd Annual Coming of Age Movie Awards Recipients Named. TheSkyKid.Com (2011-05-03). Retrieved on May 5, 2011.
  24. Leanne Larson. Release an extended cut of The Last Airbender. Petitionspot. Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved on July 11, 2010.
  25. FilmExecutives. The Last Airbender (Great Movie) SPECIAL EDITION. YouTube. Retrieved on February 22, 2011.
  26. ODE (August 15, 2010). Does M. Night Shyamalan care about The Last Airbender's bad reviews. YouTube. Retrieved on August 14, 2015.
  27. Roth Cornet (May 22, 2015). M. Night Shyamalan defends his Avatar: The Last Airbender adaptation. IGN. Retrieved on August 14, 2015.
  28. Mark Harrison (August 6, 2015). The Last Airbender: What went wrong?. Den Of Geek. Retrieved on August 14, 2015.

See also[]

External links[]