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|The Legend of Aang (An Avatar: The Last Airbender Film Series)|
I, like many others, was dissatisfied with the theatrical engagement of The Last Airbender, due to its rather hastily put together plot, its lack of characterization, and terribly ineloquent dialogue.
Upon viewing the film, I began to take note of exactly what was wrong with it, and soon set out to my create my own screenplay.
However, unlike many fan efforts, my version is dedicated more to creating a satisfying plot and story, rather than adherence to the plot of the source material. As such, if you are a stickler for accuracy, turn back now.
MAJOR UPDATES TO COME
- Aang (安昂)- A certain playfulness and innocence should be preserved for him, which can be accomplished through many different ways, the main one to have him entertain the children of the Southern Water Tribe. His wide-eyed curiosity and naivety should also be preserved, but slowly diminish as the series goes on, to show growth. His uncertainty of being Avatar should also be kept, and may be done in a similar manner as in the film (showcased through the ceremony at the Air Temple).
- Zuko (蘇科) - He is an interesting one to handle, seeing as his character shifted around so wildly even by the end of Book One. My thoughts are to have him closer to the Shyamalan version, but still keep his somewhat abrasive attitude towards Iroh like in the show, but done much more subtly than the early episodes of the series.
- Katara (卡塔拉) - Not much deviation is needed from the show's characterization of the over-mature motherly figure, which was done much better in the show than the film.
- Sokka (索卡) - This is a big one, and the one that I think requires the most deviation from the series. Sokka can still be the comic relief of the group, but his characterization should be augmented. In my mind, he should be a loyal friend who cares about his sister, a competent fighter, and a heavy cynic, which is where the comedy of his character comes from. The most over-the-top gags of the show need serious toning down in order to make his character still likable and not annoying.
- Yue (月) - She should be ready to help at any cost, and also a more commanding royal presence.
- Iroh (艾洛) - Iroh is simple; he's Zuko's moral compass. His comedy can still be preserved in little ways, but his main role is that of a mentor to the prince.
- Pakku (百區)- This is another simple one; he's a wise master, but also spiteful and brash, which causes some clashes between him and his pupils (Aang and Katara).
- Zhao (趙) - His is an interesting one. I believe that he should still be intimidating to a degree, but also have an element of sliminess to him. Similarly, I think he should also be at odds with Ozai instead of being his lapdog like in the film.
- Azula (阿蘇拉) - A complete psychopath, but even she should have a layer to her, expressed mostly in the fourth film.
- Toph Beifong (北方拓芙)
- Ozai (敖載)
- Suki (蘇基)
The series Asian influence is a defining staple, and provides it with an identity of its own. I say, the more of it, the better. This can be done in easy ways, like...
- Any new names may be Japanese, Chinese, or other oriental words or names that fit the characters.
- The four nations can have ties to their intended nationalities, visually, locationally, or otherwise.
- Casting each character with an actor from their intended race. (Aang and Toph Chinese, Sokka and Katara Native American, and Zuko and Iroh Japanese/Korean)
- Heavily basing the bending off of their intended martial arts form.
Style (Animation/Live Action)
I've thought about this. When you really get down to it, there are valid arguments for both the mediums of live action and animation. Live action allows for the subtleties of emotion and a greater sense of connection for the audience, but animation allows for the limitless that a story like this should really deserve. And it's been proven that the high-speed fights are something very difficult to pull off.
So, what is my solution to this. BOTH!
Let me explain. This would mean that while delicate emotional moments and character scenes with little action would remain in live action, while much of the action scenes and more otherworldly visuals (the Spirit World, dream sequences, etc.) would be done in 2D animation (maybe something similar to Master Jiang and the Six Kingdoms).
Additionally, the blend could be made between animation and live action in other little ways, too, like giving a more stylized look to the cinematography (I'm not talking Zach Snyder stuff here; I would still use lots of real sets and locations) or even adding animated elements to the live action scenes. Mainly; the Avatar State. Basically, imagine that instead of simply the nomadic tattoos and his eyes glowing, that the state was an entire full body aura, one which transformed Aang into an animated character still among live action settings (eyes whited out to keep the threatening appearance, glowing blue, maybe).
Radical, I know, but I also know other films have done similar things to good effect before.
Book One: The Great North
降 卋 神 通
The Legend of Aang
- The Boy in the Iceberg/The Avatar Returns
- The Southern Air Temple
- Winter Solstice: Avatar Roku
- The Storm
- The Blue Spirit
- The Waterbending Master
- The Siege of the North
- The Avatar State
- Prologue: The Lost Boy
- A Prince in Exile
- Youth of the Water Tribe
- A Boy in an Iceberg
- The Airbender
- Disturbers of the Peace
- "We have to do something..."
- A Few Questions/"Nowhere to run..."
- A Matter of Dire Importance
- A Meeting of Rivals
- My Old Home...
- An Agni Kai Duel
- Painful Memories
- Game Plan
- Team Avatar on Earth Kingdom
- Hot Pursuit
- Revelations and Confessions
- An Exercise of Authority
- The Great North
- A Nighttime Sky
- Sifu Pakku
- All in Good Fun
- "I Have Not Come Over Three Million Miles..."
- Ace in the Oasis
Now, one important thing to keep in mind is that none of these necessarily need to be included in their entirety, or even the main plot. For some, small scenes can be lifted and shifted around to work within a narrative. And the order is also something that can be greatly. What's clear is that a good chunk of the film needs to take place in the Northern Water Tribe, mainly for Yue's and Pakku's development as characters.
Not only that, but Zhao requires an earlier introduction to cement him as an antagonist.
The trio's trek through the Earth Kingdom can be shortened, but still preserve the idea that Aang's presence is greatly affecting the Earth. Haru does not necessarily need to be a character, although a similar situation to Imprisoned may be included as Aang's ultimate reveal to the world. Additionally, a montage showing various proactive bits of the Earth Kingdom starting a rebellion could be included, showing things like the Kyoshi Warriors, Jet's Freedom Fighters, or even a few earthbender armies.
In order to keep The Northern Water Tribe as much as possible, it might perhaps be necessary to shift the Blue Spirit and Avatar Roku to during Aang and Co.'s stay in the Northern Water Tribe, which could be accomplished quite easily.
Other parts of Aang's backstory would be shifted throughout the film, all culminating similarly to Shyamalan's version, where Aang excepts his role by creating the wave (which would do some damage) and bowing to the citizens of the Water Tribe.
The only parts of the Avatar State that require inclusion are Katara being given the Spirit Water and Zuko and Ïroh cutting their topknots. Zuko and Iroh would both make the decision to desert the Fire Nation during the Siege of the North, when Iroh questions Zuko if his constant pursuit of Aang is worth the hardship. Later, during the ending, Zuko would say that it indeed is not worth it, and would cut his topknot to prove it. Iroh would do the same.
Book Two (Part One): The Burning Earth
Book Two (Part Two): The Invasion of Ba Sing Se
Book Three (Part One): The Day of Black Sun
- The Bridge (comic)
- Going Home Again (comic)
- The Awakening
- The Deserter
- Sokka's Master
- The Beach
- The Avatar and the Fire Lord.
- Nightmares and Daydreams
- The Day of Black Sun
The briefest of recaps would be at the beginning, showing only Aang being struck down and Iroh being captured.
Going Home Again would be shortened to just Zuko giving a brief silent visit to an imprisoned Iroh, and a short scene of Mai convincing Zuko to return home with them.
Our first scene with the Team would be the scene from The Bridge of them approaching the gates and being let in by the guards, however, everyone except for Katara and Hakoda would be hooded throughout the scene to preserve mystery.
The Awakening would be shortened to remove Aang going off on his own to Crescent Island and his visitation from Yue. He would attempt to leave one night, but Katara stops him and talks him down. Afterwards, Aáng would break his glider over his knee and toss it into the ocean.
The Headband would be shortened to remove the school scenes, but the team would still be seen gathering clothes. A dance between Katara and Aang would take place on the eve of the invasion.
Jeong Jeong now serves as a major character throughout the film. Roku visits Aang one night, and Aang questions Roku about how to learn firebending. He tells Aang of Jeong Jeong, and Aang seeks him out. At first hesitant to reveal himself, he simply requests lessons, to which Jeong Jeong rants to him about how much distaste what he carries. Once he sees that it's his only option, Aang undoes his headband and reveals himself to Jeong Jeong. He agrees to teach Aang. His teaching would take place throughout the film, as the two grow into a mutual respect. The plot ends with Aang coming to see Jeong Jeong a few days before the invasion, where he reveals that he's been summoned elsewhere (hinting at the White Lotus)
On the eve of the battle, Aang would awake from a nightmare, and discover Katara sitting next to a lit fire. He has a discussion with her to calm himself down, and then the two both go back to sleep. That is all that remains of the main plot from Nightmares and Daydreams. The war meeting would be shown, but Zuko leaves the meeting in disgust when he hears the plan.
The Swamp People and Hippo would be removed from the invasion list. Haru and Tyro will be introduced for the first time here.
Azula would ask Mai and Ty Lee to oversee the air strike during the invasion. Mai would notice one of her blades missing. Later, as Sokka interrogates Azula about Suki, she stabs Sokka in the side with the blade, revealing to have poisoned it. As the airships bomb and decimate the invasion army, Sokka is carted over to Katara for healing as Aáng futilely attempts to bring down the airships.
The very last shot is Zuko pursuing the group in his airship.
Book Three (Part Two): Sozin's Comet
- The Western Air Temple
- The Firebending Masters
- The Boiling Rock
- Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
- The Promise: Part 3 (comic)
Begin with Zuko following the gang, who are trudging along the plains solemnly after their recent defeat. Sokka still recovers from his wounds, but remarks that he's growing stronger.
Then, a new cutback to Azula would be inserted. First, a furious Mai would confront her about her missing blades, and berate her for stealing them. Afterwards, Ozai would take Azula aside and berate her for not telling him of the Avatar's being alive earlier, and lying about Zuko being the one to kill him. This would be the first in many scenes to establish a new subplot, in which Azula begins to distrust Ozai and grows paranoid of everyone around her.
The gang, and Zuko, climb down the cliffside toward the remains of the Western Air Temple. As they begin to discuss the new plan, Sokka makes the suggestion that they wait until after the comet has passed, so that Aang won't have to face him as a master, but Zuko interrupts. In this version, Zuko first submits the information of the Sozin's Comet plan. Toph confirms it. They nearly send him away, but Zuko also offers to be Aang's firebending teacher. They still send him away, but Aáng accepts his offer, saying they most likely won't get another offer with Jeong Jeong gone.
Katara threatens Zuko, saying that if she ever catches him regressing to his old ways, she'll kill him right then and there.
Zuko, the next morning, begins Aang's firebending lesson. He is shocked to discover that his bending is terribly weak in comparison to before, and spends the whole day attempting to recapture it. The team has had enough of it when his practice renders them unable to sleep that night. Zuko pins his problem down as his switching of sides and lack of rage, and says that a burst of anger might help him. To prove this, he asks Sokka to hit him, which he does, repeatedly, in fact. It doesn't work, and Toph suggests that they might go to the original source of firebending to try their power.
Zuko remarks about the ancient Sun Warriors and the dragons Ran and Shaw, and he and Zuko set out to find the ruins of their temple.
For the collective works of the author, go here.