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Although it's very unlikely that a reboot or remake of the original series will be made, for at least fifteen years, we can still annalyze what made M. Night's adaptation a failure, and create our own versions of how the film should have been made, or how it should be remade.
The masses have to forget the first one
As much as we all love Avatar, it is far from a mainstream franchise, and is not known by virtually everyone like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. One needs not to have seen or liked Harry Potter to know what it is, because it is such a part of Western Culture. Sadly, Avatar's only representation in the real mainstream media has been M. Night Shyamalan's presentation, and undoubtedly, no studio would pick up a reboot right now. The difference between this, and, for example, the Spiderman reboot is that Spiderman has had many movies in its series already, and is known not for its reception, but for its pop cultural presence. TLA is 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, for crying out loud - again, if there was a reboot, the only thing people would think when they saw trailers and commercials would be that it was linked to that terrible movie a few years back.
Like I said before, I believe fifteen years from now would be a good point to do a movie, a new generation will be the target audience, and Avatar: The Last Airbender will have become an old show by this point, gathering a certain classic-ness to it, like Lord of the Rings - discounting Korra and any other future spin-offs.
Undoubtedly, though, the best scenario would have been for a good movie to have been made in the first place, and I'm still baffled at how M. Night could make something so good into... that.
Proposal One: Purist
Against changing major elements of the world to fit movie format, such as merging Haru's town and Kyoshi, instead, the story would by streamlined with unimportant parts not shown, and small scenes added for the flow of the film. There is no problem with having Aang's backstory not in a cave, it can be between Katara and Aang while practising waterbending while Sokka is off hunting, and such.
Whenever applicable, dialogue would be the same as in the show.
If it weren't for James Cameron, "Avatar" would have been a perfect name for this franchise, and each film in the trilogy could have its own subtitle.
How many movies?
Notice I say trilogy, because after much consideration, it becomes apparent that splitting any of the seasons into two movies wouldn't work. The genera consensus is that season one needs only one movie, while the second and third need two. However, what would this entail? The story of the second movie would be all over the place, with a weak ending in the middle of a story arc. The third movie would be set entirely in Ba Sing Se, and seem like there was no beginning or middle, only a build-up and an end where the good guys lose. The fourth movie would also be all over the place, and end with a bad-guy victory, and the fifth movie would be like the third.
Harry Potter 7 and 8 are good examples of a two-part movie, because the first one was very character-heavy, and a huge build-up to the finale of an entire saga, that's why an unfinished ending is excusable. They considered doing Goblet of Fire in two parts as well, but went against it, because they realised that no matter how character-based the first could be, it would be a useless film.
The following film title are in this format: [Ideal] / [If M. Night's version didn't exist] / [Reboot in 15 years]
Book One: Water
Character, world and lore heavy
The story arc of season 1 is really all over the place, so a story-heavy movie, where the focus is on what they're gonna do next, and then what they're gonna do after that, would be unsatisfying. Instead, the audience should really fall in love with the world and characters and get sucked into the story, ironically, for three hours. This isn't saying that it should only focus on characters, the world and lore, but just slightly more on that side of the spectrum.
Actually, let me rephrase that: like I said before, it shouldn't be about what they're gonna do next, and then what they're gonna do after that, but about the overall picture and story of all three movies, and the overall story of the first movie, about redemption, and a new hope and such - not... family, or whatever M. Night thought he was doing.
- Prologue - 2:00
- The Boy in the Iceberg - 14:00
- The Avatar Returns - 14:00
- The Southern Air Temple - 13:00
- The Warriors of Kyoshi - 7:00
- Imprisoned - 15:00
- Winter Solstice Part 1 - 4:00
- Winter Solstice Part 2 - 11:00
- The Waterbending Scroll - 4:00
- The Storm - 11:00
- The Blue Spirit - 15:00
- The Waterbending Master - 17:00
- Siege of the North - 40:00
Total Runtime: 167 minutes (2 hours and 47 minutes)
Unfortunately, movies are becoming more and more commercial and profit-focused, and so longer, epic sagas aren't being made nearly as often, unless they build a worldwide fanbase - fast. The way I see it, if everyone is talking about how good that movie is, and how its the next Star Wars or whatever, people will see it and become fans, like what happened for Star Wars and, actually, ATLA, just on a much smaller scale. Too bad The Last Airbender was terrible and that's not the kind of word-of-mouth that got out. However, Avatar definitely deserves to be a big epic saga - and that's what keeps me believing that some time, it'll be done right, just not done soon.
*I plan on splicing this together, in a similar manner to this: http://www.megavideo.com/?v=IDYNGPYL but good quality and downloadable.
I only have it slotted for three minutes, but that's more than the first episode of the show had to get everything across, and they did it very well, so. I'm not sure if I would have Katara narrating, as I don't want it to be character-based, but really big picture - although, again, the show did a good job so thats proof it can work. If it isn't Katara, its just an epic voice (I would say Roku, but he can't talk about himself disappearing).
Actually, I'm gonna go with not Katara, maybe Gran Gran, as long as her voice is epic, or something like the woman who did the voiceovers for the later Avatar commercials on nick... just as long as its epic.
- Water. Earth. Fire. Air.
- Same as the show, just live action.
- There are long-lost stories of the old days, a time of peace when the Avatar kept balance between the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads.
- Map, like in the show.
- Stories of the strong, proud Earthbenders, who could raise the ground beneath their feet;
- and the Firebenders, both gifted and cursed with eternal light and warmth.
- [Aging Chinese Ink-and-wash style blended with series pilot intro Avatar-scene style]
- Earthbenders levitating large rocks.
- Firebender shooting fire.
- A time when the carefree Airbenders, so high in their mountaintop temples roamed free;
- and Waterbenders, adaptive and graceful, were capable of summoning waves that could blot out the sun.
- [Still stylized]
- Long shot of Air Temple, some Air Nomads are seen on gliders in the distance. Laughter echoing in the background.
- Exactly what she said: a Waterbender bending a giant wave.
- Screen goes black.
- Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
- Black screen.
- The ruthless Firebenders, on their conquest of civilization harnessed the power of a great comet and surged through the Air Temples, sparing no man, woman or child in a mass genocide to destroy the one thing that could stop them.
- [Back to live action]
- Sozin's Comet flies by while camera quickly follows it from underneath, like in one scene in the finale, pans down to huge army of Firebenders like in the show, they shoot fire at the camera.
- Camera pans over huge legions of Firebenders on shore, ends with them shooting fire at camera.
- For only the Avatar, master of all four elements could defeat the Fire Nation, but when the world needed him most, he vanished.
- Same as in show, Roku bends all four and vanishes with Airbending.
- One hundred years have passed, and the Fire Nation is nearing victory in the war.
- Shot identical to the show: burning buildings pan.
- Many believe that the Avatar was never reborn into the Air Nomads and that the cycle is broken, but still there are those who haven't lost hope, those who believe that somehow, the Avatar will return.
- Shot identical to the show: Katara and Sokka standing in front of their tribe with lamps, then close up on them, then close up on Katara's face.
- Fade to white.
The Boy in the Iceberg and The Avatar Returns
- 0:02 - 0:30
This section would be shortened from 44 minutes to 28. While it is important, making it the entire first act isn't smart because the rest of the movie would have to be shortened and lose its dominance. The beginning is important, but as a beginning, or intro.
Again, wherever applicable, the dialogue and cameras and such would be the same as in the show.
- Katara and Sokka fishing and bickering
- They find and befriend Aang
- Zuko sees the light
- They go back to the SWT
- They go penguin sledding
- They only see the frozen ship, not go in it
- They discuss the war while looking at the ship, Aang says "I really am the last airbender."
- Zuko comes, Aang volunteers to go, and reveals he's the Avatar
- Aang trapped on Zuko's ship
- Katara and Sokka go after him
- Aang escapes
- Aang fights Zuko, goes into Avatar state, destroys ship in process
- Katara and Sokka escape with Aang
While most of the time cut out is shaved off from everywhere, the shipwreck scene is considerably shortened. Prince Zuko goes to the SWT just cuz he saw the light beam from the iceberg. The fight on Zuko's ship is also more of a skirmish ending in freaky Avatar State action.
The last shot is a semi-overhead view of Zuko's ship buried under snow and ice, which fades to Zuko's ship in the same position, just with a new background of the Fire Nation military base, going into the next scene.
The Southern Air Temple
- 0:30 - 0:43
Again, the way of getting to this scene is a direct fade from the last scene. At the end of The Avatar Returns, in the show, Aang, Sokka and Katara are on Appa flying off to their next adventure. This would be a weird scene for the movie, so instead, it sticks with Zuko, going straight to him and Zhao's encounters.
- We are introduced to Zhao.
- They agree to tea.
- Back to the Gaang. Katara tries to talk to Aang about the Air Nomads.
- They're on the ground, but taking off. This is to make sure that the audience knows some time has passed. If they were already in the air, people would think they hadn't landed since taking off from Zuko's ship.
- Aang Sokka bickering.
- They get to the SAT.
- Aang looks around - really confused.
- They go to the room with the Avatar statues.
- They chase momo to the battle site.
- Zuko talking with Zhao. They agree to Agni Kai.
- Aang goes into Avatar State again, out of rage this time.
- This showcases the different sides of the Avatar State.
- Katara calms him down, saying they're a family now.
- Zuko and Zhao fight.
Many bonds are made here. Sokka and Aang kinda don't get along at the beginning, but by the end Sokka realizes Aang needs them, but doesn't show it yet. Aang and Katara bond as well, including Sokka in the mix, who still seems unsure. Zhao is introduced and Firebending is showcased.
The Warriors of Kyoshi
- 0:43 - 0:50
This is a short scene, focused on the group arriving in the Earth Kingdom and introducing the Kyoshi Warriors, only because they're important later on.
- Iroh goes to see Zuko on his ship. He says they have no idea where the Gaang is. Zuko freaks out, and says "he is clearly a master of evasive maneuvering" or whatever. Cut to Sokka holding the map - the Gaang is lost.
- Some humour.
- The Gaang is in an Earth Kingdom wooded area.
- They get captured by the Kyoshi Warriors.
- Sokka does his "where are the men who ambushed us?" thing
- They chat it up when Aang reveals he's the Avatar.
- They just stay in the forest, don't go to Kyoshi village, although Kyoshi herself is explained by them.
- Sukka romance is kept to an implied level.
- Kyoshi warriors say they have to leave... and they do.
This scene should feel like a road-trip scene, where they come across the Kyoshi Warriors rather than having a whole thing with them. Again, its just to introduce them because they're more important in later movies.
- 0:50 - 1:05
By this point, the audience has been watching for a while, so its time for some heist-style action. This is also a powerful scene in terms of emotion and character development.
- Aang, Katara and Sokka are still in Earth Kingdom forests.
- They hear an Earthbender, chase him back to his village.
- They learn that the Firenation has been capturing Earthbenders, and meet Haru and his mom
- They talk for a bit, and decide to help get the Earthbenders, including Haru's father, back, under Katara's leadership.
- A tiny bit of romantic undertoning.
- Same as in the show, they go out to the rig, Katara spurs a rebellion, yay!
- Katara loses her necklace, Zuko is back in the movie.
Blog post to be continued