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February 2, 2014
Beginnings are important. That should go without saying. It's the first thing that your audience sees, and oftentimes it can be a representation of the quality of the film to come, the tone, or director's style. However you put it, the way you begin a film can automatically sway your opinion on a film. This was the first nail in the coffin in the 2010 version. Don't let Star Wars fool you, text crawls never work! It's a dull way to open, especially in the way the film presents it.
But that's not the only problem.
Let's face it, the story of Avatar is extremely complicated. It's meant to be an epic, with a cast of hundreds. The backstory of the war is no exception, with a story that could take up a film in-and-of-itself. On top of that, you have the backstories of Aang and Zuko (very much dual protagonists) and Sozin's conquest of the Air Nomads.
Why, then, is none of that in the film?
True, there is only so much an audience can take, but there is certainly more to be told than the barebones explanation present in the film. There must be a prologue of about 15 minutes or so to get us into this world, and get us familiar with the stories and motivation of the villains, as well as a brief introduction to Aang.
A single scene with Sozin trying to convince Roku to allow him to colonize in Earth Kingdom will sum up most of Roku and Sozin's development. As he protests Sozin's efforts, he finds his bending fails him, and realizes that his cup of tea is poisoned, and he soon dies. A scene with Sozin consulting an Oracle and conjuring fire before the invasion would be added to provide exposition about the Comet. Afterwards, to provide some small intrigue about Aang and who he is. Gyatso will be given a small bit of development for later as we see him fending off an inquisition by giving his life for Aang's safety.
After the credits, a small scene showing Zuko and Ozai's Agni Kai will be shown to give us some idea of Zuko's motivation.
What we're left with is an opening that should hopefully improve audience interest as well as get a great deal more exposition out of the way in a logical fashion.
--The Legend of Aang : The Prologue--
SUPER: Paramount Pictures Presents
SUPER: A Nickelodeon Movies Production
FADE IN ON:
INT. SOZIN'S QUARTERS - DUSK
We see A MAP OF THE EARTH. We pan across it, to reveal the FOUR NATIONS and their symbols.
All the world to choose from, and we are confined to such a small corner of it.
The camera pulls back to reveal two men sitting around a table with the map resting on it. They are both holding cups of tea, and only one drinks from it. One of the men, SOZIN, gestures at the map, as if to prove a point.
We are being shunned by our own people, Roku.
ROKU looks his friend in the eye.
You know that it is not right of me to think more of any nation than the other. You ask me to betray my duties.
SOZIN is displeased with his friend.
There are times I think you've forgotten you once aspired to be a Fire Nation warrior.
ROKU sighs and takes a sip of his tea.
That was a long time ago, Sozin.
So long ago that you've forgotten your own country?
ROKU stares at his friend from across the table.
Think of it, my friend! For too long, we have been kept in this inadequate space of the Earth. You, more than anyone else, must realize that!
ROKU begins to grow angry with his friend.
All I ask of you is that we are given opportunity to expand our greatness. Let us have the land. Let us show our potential!
ROKU softens his brow.
SOZIN (CONT'D) Please. For old time's sake.
ROKU sighs and gives his friend a stern looking over before replying.
ROKU Sozin, I have told you no time and again, and no my answer remains.
SOZIN hangs his head in disappointment and closes his eyes.
ROKU (CONT'D) My primary duty is to preserve the integrity of the four nations. To stop at nothing to preserve peace. Anything less would be treasonous of me.
SOZIN begins to look up.
ROKU(CONT'D) You are still my closest friend, Sozin. But you ask the impossible.
SOZIN gives a brief sad chuckle before looking his friend in the eye.
SOZIN And you won't reconsider?
ROKU shakes his head and takes a sip of tea.
SOZIN (CONT'D) A shame. I had a feeling you'd say that.
ROKU widens his eyes and glares across the table.
ROKU What do you mean?
SOZIN registers somewhat of a smirk as he says it.
SOZIN I started the colonization effort weeks ago. We've been settling in the eastern Earth Kingdom.
ROKU leaps up from his chair, but SOZIN remains strangely calm.
SOZIN cannot help but stop himself from chuckling.
ROKU (CONT'D) You've overstepped your authority, Sozin! You have no business occupying territory of the other nations!
SOZIN is immovable. ROKU then extends his fist to bend fire at SOZIN, but is mortified to see that nothing happens. He then begins to pant and clutches his chest in pain.
SOZIN Is there something wrong with your tea?
ROKU is overcome with pain and slumps to his knees, and SOZIN rushes and holds him in his arms. ROKU looks up, his eyes glazed.
ROKU (strained) Why?
SOZIN grips his friend.
SOZIN With no Avatar, my plans may continue undisturbed. It was for the best.
ROKU (strained) It will never work! Your crusade will be over as soon as it has started.
SOZIN I beg to differ.
ROKU lets out a cough. SOZIN grips his friend tighter, as his final moments come.
SOZIN I am truly sorry, my friend.
He grips tighter, but senses that ROKU has gone, and lets him fall.
INT. TEMPLE – NIGHT
A few bones are seen in the flames of a fire. The wrinkled hand of an ORACLE reaches into the fire and pulls out a bone. She reads the cracks of the bone. SOZIN waits patiently for her to finish.
SOZIN What does it say?
The ORACLE holds her hand up as to silence him. She reads the bones further. Her finger traces the cracks.
SOZIN (O.S.) What of the comet?
The ORACLE places the bone down on a plate.
ORACLE The comet shall appear in two days time. As it did a century ago, your power will be greatly enhanced.
SOZIN grins maliciously. The ORACLE then shudders and grips SOZIN'S ARM, working up to his forearm.
ORACLE Be warned.
SOZIN leans closer in to listen.
ORACLE As you assume control, a powerful bender will come. Your efforts will be halted, your army decimated, and you shall be defeated.
SOZIN widens his eyes.
SOZIN What kind of bender?
The ORACLE squints, reaching out.
ORACLE Air... Water... Earth... and Fire.
SOZIN leans back.
SOZIN (whisper) The Avatar.
He grips the ORACLE'S arm at the forearm.
SOZIN Where shall the next Avatar be born into?
ORACLE The Air Nomads.
SOZIN (desperately) Who shall he be? What is his name? Where-
ORACLE (furiously) Silence!
SOZIN recoils in fear. The ORACLE relinquishes her grip.
ORACLE Such things cannot be told so early.
SOZIN groans and stands.
SOZIN Then I shall exterminate all of the Air Nomads!
SOZIN turns away from the ORACLE.
SOZIN (CONT'D) My plans have come too far to be uprooted by a remnant of a past age. There will be nothing to stop me from my goal.
ORACLE Take heed, Sozin. The tighter you grip on the Four Nations the farther they shall slip from your grasp.
SOZIN turns to face the ORACLE.
SOZIN I fear nothing. The world shall burn before me!
EXT. FIRE NATION - DAYBREAK.
SOZIN surveys a large army, backed by large FIRE NATION ships.
He looks to the sky, and sees a comet streaking through the sky and turns the sky red.
SOZIN turns his eyes back to the army. He holds his hands out in front of him, conjuring a large stream of fire in his hands and throwing it towards the camera.
CUT TO BLACK
INT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE - AANG's ROOM - NIGHT
A dark child's room is shown, with the sounds of scuffling and frantic panting heard. A figure in a brown cloak is seen pacing back and forth, leaving something on a table before rushing out of the door.
INT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE - COUNCIL CHAMBERS - NIGHT
Another man, Gyatso, enters a large chamber, with seven men seated on large thrones before him. He has a letter in his hands, and is clearly quite distraught by something.
GYATSO My friends, I have news.
TASHI As do we, Gyatso.
TASHI leans forward to speak.
TASHI We've received news from the Eastern Air Temple. The attacks are growing stronger. They say the Western Temple has been eradicated completely.
MONK GYATSO turns shocked at the news he hears.
INT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE - HALL - NIGHT
The child, cloaked, sneaks down a wall, but disappears back behind it when he sees two monks coming down the hallway. He waits until they have passed, and continues down his way.
TASHI (V.O.) If we have any hope of Aang completing his training, we must remove him safely from the temple. He can resume elsewhere.
INT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE - COUNCIL CHAMBERS - NIGHT
GYATSO stressfully hangs his head before answering.
GYATSO My friends, Aang is no longer with us. He has run away.
The elders begin, in panic, to discuss amongst themselves.
GYATSO It's my own fault.
GYATSO's comment breaks the noise, as the elders' eyes fall on him. He holds up the letter and unrolls it, displaying it to the others.
GYATSO I should never have submitted to his finding out at this time. You saw his performance at the presentation. He's not ready for the responsibility.
EXT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE - BISON PEN – NIGHT
AANG sneaks into a pen where the sky-bison are kept. He pulls back his hood to reveal his face, and finds one of the bison in the pen. It begins to growl. AANG tries to shush it.
AANG (hushed) Hey! Take it easy, Appa. It's me, Aang.
The creature lets out a content sigh.
AANG (CONT'D) Listen, you're coming an a little trip with me. All right?
He then starts to mount the creature.
INT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE – COUNCIL CHAMBER – NIGHT
GYATSO and the councilmen are both seen in profile.
PASANG (furious) You fool! The Fire Nation is coming, Gyatso! Aang would have been the first they'd have inquired.
GYATSO All the better that he escaped, then-
PASANG grows furious and points his finger to GYATSO.
PASANG You don't understand! Had he remained here, we could have hid him, protected him! Now, there is no way to guarantee his safety.
The impact of the news hits GYATSO, and he almost seems to mouth 'What have I done?' to himself.
EXT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE – BISON PEN – NIGHT
AANG is now seated atop APPA, and begins to grip the reins.
AANG Appa, yip-yip!
APPA begins to hover off of the ground, as AANG grips his reins tightly.
GYATSO rushes out of the temple to see AANG leaving. He yells and rushes after him. AANG sees GYATSO, but snaps the reins and APPA speeds away from the temple. GYATSO pitifully watches AANG fly away. He mouths a 'good-bye'.
INT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE – COUNCIL CHAMBER – NIGHT
GYATSO falters as he looks for words to say.
GYATSO What do we do now?
PASANG has great grief on his face.
PASANG Whatever we can.
EXT. SOUTHERN AIR TEMPLE – DAY
MONTAGE: FIREBENDERS barrage the temple. Pillars burn, AIRBENDERS and FIREBENDERS duel, and tanks run up the hill to the temple.
A general and several soldiers burst through the temple doors and lead themselves down the hallway. They hear shuffling, and turn to see GYATSO opposing them with his arms extended. The soldiers attempt to bend fire at him, but GYATSO deflects their attack, now starting to perspire a bit.
ASSAULT GENERAL What is your name?
The ASSAULT GENERAL holds his men back from attacking.
ASSAULT GENERAL Where is the Avatar? Tell us and we'll stop our attack.
GYATSO breathes heavily as he looks over the men. He is thinking of what to say.
ASSAULT GENERAL (O.S.) Well, man?
He falters, but manages to speak.
GYATSO I... am the Avatar.
PAN TO THE ASSAULT GENERAL
GYATSO And I offer myself as prisoner.
The GENERAL lets his men past him. GYATSO prepares to defend himself.
ASSAULT GENERAL I'm afraid that Sozin won't be accepting prisoners today.
The soldiers bend fire at the screen, and the screen flashes white.
INT. FIRE NATION - THRONE ROOM – DAY
SOZIN leans forward on his throne, elderly and sickly looking, as the ASSAULT GENERAL approaches the throne.
ASSAULT GENERAL It is done, my lord.
SOZIN is unconvinced, and leans further forward.
SOZIN What did he look like?
The general looks confused by his question.
ASSAULT GENERAL He was near your age, sir. I'd guess about eighty.
SOZIN closes his eyes, and sighs.
ASSAULT GENERAL Is something wrong, my lord?
SOZIN The next Avatar was only born as Roku died. He should have been a child.
The ASSAULT GENERAL'S mouth hangs open, looking for words to say.
ASSAULT GENERAL My apologies, my lord.
SOZIN stands up from his throne, and walks down toward the general. He sneers at the man, before casting enough fire at him to vaporize him where he stands. He catches his breath, and turns to an advisor.
SOZIN Eradicate them all. Let none escape!
EXT. ANTARCTIC – DAY
A storm rages on above in the sky, with harsh winds and constant thunder.
AANG holds on to APPA's reins as the winds buck them both about. He yells. The two crash into the waves, as AANG struggles to bring APPA out of the water. He manages, but they crash back into the water, and are unable to get out. AANG drifts down, his eyes closing and his mouth drifting open. All of the sudden, his eyes open. They're glowing white, as are the arrow markings donning his head. AANG slams his hands together, creating an ice shell around him and APPA. AANG's eyes close and his glow diminishes.
CUT TO BLACK
SUPER: THE LEGEND OF AANG
SUPER: BOOK ONE: WATER
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