Avatar: The Last Airbender fans are still reeling from the news of creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko exiting Netflix‘s upcoming live-action adaptation. The creators made statements along with Netflix confirming the common excuse of “creative differences”. But what were those creative differences that made DiMartino and Konietzko walk away?
FandomWire spoke exclusively to multiple sources inside Netflix and the upcoming Avatar The Last Airbender series itself to confirm the real reasons behind their exit:
The creators wanted a bigger budget. This one is the least surprising, since its a common request for any show-runner. Filmmakers always wanted more money to properly build their vision, but Netflix felt it was already spending as much as they believed they needed to pull off the series they wanted.
Remember DiMartino and Konietzko have only worked in animation, and are not as experienced in creating live-action projects.It’s not surprising that Netflix may have balked at the show’s growing budget requests. If the scale of this adaptation is going to be anything like the cartoon, which all signs say it will be, the show will be very costly. So it makes sense that there would be creative frustration over the specific amount of money spent.
The Diversity of Cast
Aside from reigning in the budget, Netflix also wanted the ability to consider some white actors for the series. This was a non-starter for the creators, who were insistent that not a single white actor be on the series.
While some have criticized the creators, both white, for their appropriation of Asian characters and culture, voiced predominately by white actors… Many find their take respectful, and a much needed shot of Eastern and Western representation. When the series was announced, the creators spoke to IndieWire promising to right the wrongs of their past, saying that the “cast would not be white-washed” like they were in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 live-action movie adaptation.
We are told that casting decisions are still early on, and that Netflix merely wanted the option to audition with an open net of all nationalities, including white actors, but the creators refused.
The Overall Tone
While budget and casting issues can usually find a middle ground, the biggest issue by far, was the fact that Netflix and the creators could not unify on a common overall tone for the show. Netflix currently wants to age up Aang, Zuko, Katara and Sokka. They also want to separate the live-action series from the animated one by creating a darker, mature tone with more romance, sex, and blood. DiMartino and Konietzko disagreed and remained adamant that the show remain aimed at kids.
While the two creators did each release broad statements explaining their exit from the show. Netflix released a statement as well declaring that they will continue as planned:
“We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series. Although they have chosen to depart the live action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”