Avatar: The Last Airbender – M. Night Shyamalan Movie Did 2 Things Right That Were Butchered by the Netflix Show 14 Years Later

M. Night Shyamalan's Critically Panned The Last Airbender Did 2 Things Right

Avatar: The Last Airbender - M. Night Shyamalan Movie Did 2 Things Right That Were Butchered by the Netflix Show 14 Years Later


  • Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series' first live-action adaptation was M. Night Shyamalan's 2010 film.
  • Shyamalan portrayed the firebending and waterbending well in the movie.
  • Firebending was not possible without the presence of an existing source, and neither was waterbending.
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Avatar: The Last Airbender has been the talk of the town lately, thanks to its Netflix live-action remake. It all started with the popular animated fantasy action series of the same name, which was produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio and was aired from 2005 to 2008. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the animated series was the highest-rated in its demographic at its premiere.


The first live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender happened in 2010 under the name The Last Airbender. M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed the movie as the first part of a trilogy. However, the movie was critically panned for its writing, acting, whitewashed cast, and Shyamalan’s direction. The recently released Netflix show is not much better, but there are two things that the Wide Awake director did better than the series.

A still from M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender
A still from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan’s Adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender Did Firebending Well

M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action remake, The Last Airbender, might have done a lot of things wrong. For instance, the main character’s name was functionally different, and the entire cast only had white actors when the series was actually set in an Asian and Artic-inspired world.

A still from 2010's The Last Airbender
A still from 2010’s The Last Airbender

However, there were two things that the movie did well. They were Firebending and Waterbending. There are four different different nations, each of which could telekinetically handle one of the four natural elements: water, fire, air, and earth.

The portrayal of bending was one of the many other things the movie did differently from the animated series Avatar. Out of these, there were things about firebending and waterbending that were done well. Unlike the series in which firebenders could generate fire themselves, in the movie, the soldiers of the Fire Nation needed an existing source of fire to manipulate.

In the movie, these soldiers of the Fire Nation would carry around torches or braziers, which appears to be a hassle for them. The most memorable moment of firebending in this movie is when Iroh generates fire out of thin air. Even so, exploration of the creative and non-combative uses of firebending as seen in the Avatar cartoon is absent in the film.


M. Night Shyamalan Also Did Waterbending Well in the Movie

Avatar: The Last Airbender
A still from Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Last Airbender had a lot of mistakes that could not be ignored. However, the fact that he did a good job of showing certain elements of waterbending in the movie is noteworthy.

One of these noteworthy elements was the emphasis on the requirement of having a nearby water source to bend. This meant that waterbenders needed existing bodies of water, like rivers or ponds, to manipulate their element.

With every good thing about the movie came its bad counterpart. In this case, waterbending in the movie is done in a more rigid and conventional style, which did not capture the fluidity and beauty that the fans love in the original series. Unfortunately for the fans of this franchise, the new Netflix show Avatar: The Last Airbender messed up these two things, among others.


Avatar: The Last Airbender is available for streaming on Netflix. The Last Airbender can be streamed on Paramount+ and Prime Video.


Written by Ankita

Articles Published: 227

With over two years of content writing experience, Ankita Shaw, a dedicated writer at FandomWire, is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Physiology Honors.
Having authored more than 500 articles for Animated Times, Ankita exhibits a keen passion for exploring the nuances of popular culture, animated realms, and the ever-evolving landscape of YouTube and streaming culture.
Committed to continuous learning and growth, Ankita thrives as a well-informed and devoted writer, navigating the dynamic facets of the content universe.