HomeTelevisionCouch Potato – The Exciting Potential of Nickelodeon’s Avatar Studios

Couch Potato – The Exciting Potential of Nickelodeon’s Avatar Studios

For fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, good news has been difficult to come by the last few years. After the initial excitement that Netflix was developing a live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender with creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, fans were left tearbending when DiMartino and Konietzko left the project due to creative differences with and lack of support from Netflix. Before that, Nickelodeon’s decision to unceremoniously stop airing new episodes of The Legend of Korra on TV and instead release them online was baffling and infuriating. And most of us would gladly forget about M. Night Shyamalan’s disastrous cinematic take on The Last Airbender from 2010. 

Nickelodeon’s decision, then, to launch a new Avatar Studios dedicated to creating new shows and movies within that universe is beyond exciting for fans. After so many disappointments, having Nickelodeon recommit to the franchise and place Konietzko and DiMartino back in charge is more refreshing than a cold glass of cactus juice. Considering this news came in conjunction with the promotion of Paramount+, Avatar Studios has the potential to be to that streaming service what Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm are to Disney+. And with the production of the studio’s first project starting later this year, fans hopefully won’t have to wait long for new content to enjoy. 

The question remains, though, what corners of the Avatar world these upcoming films and series will explore. While Avatar Studios has countless stories it could tell in its creative universe, the following are some of the most exciting possibilities:

Photo Credit: Nickelodeon

A Prequel Project with Kyoshi

Though we only see glimpses of her in Avatar and Korra, Avatar Kyoshi is a fan-favorite character. Voiced by the prolific and extremely talented Jennifer Hale, Kyoshi is a force of nature dedicated to justice and perhaps the most badass character in the franchise. The character has been so popular that two novels were recently released about her. Even with the existence of these books, fans would surely be thrilled to see more from this indomitable earthbender. 

More from Aang and the Gang

Fans first fell in love with this franchise because of its incredible world-building and lovable characters. Watching Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, and Zuko grow and evolve over the course of the series was a truly rewarding journey. After seeing these characters as kids and adolescents, an opportunity to see their adventures as adults would be incredibly fascinating. While we have seen some moments from their adult lives, many years of their lives remain open to investigation.

A Proper Send-Off for Korra and Asami

As I stated in a previous edition of this column, The Legend of Korra does not receive as much attention as it should and was treated rather unfairly by Nickelodeon during its run. While the finale’s restrained reveal of Korra and Asami’s budding romance was beautiful, their relationship wasn’t fully fleshed out until the show’s comic continuation. Fans hoping for more explicitly LGBTQ+ stories deserve a cinematic exploration of the Korrasami romance, which paved the way for greater animated representation

No Avatar, No Problem

Just as The Mandalorian revealed what it is like for someone to make their way through the galaxy without knowing any Jedi, Avatar Studios could unveil what it’s like for residents of the four nations to never meet the Avatar and only hear legends about them. Without the Avatar to maintain order and balance, what would a community look like? Without the intervention of the world’s most powerful bender, how do people resolve conflicts with spirits and maintain peace between warring factions? Removing the Avatar from the equation could challenge the writers and viewers to consider how ordinary people can solve extraordinary problems without waiting for a hero or savior. 

Life as a Non-Bender

While both Avatar and Korra included beloved non-bending characters like Sokka and Asami, neither show put these characters in the spotlight for long. While they were undoubtedly main characters with their own compelling arcs, they rarely had an opportunity to lead the narrative. But what would it be like for other characters to live in this magical world and not possess amazing abilities? The first season of The Legend of Korra explored this question to a degree, but seeing more of this world from the perspective of a non-bender could lead to some powerful critiques of our own world and its power structures. 

Spirited Away

Avatar’s depiction of spirits is clearly informed by the work of Hayao Miyazaki, but this influence became somewhat less apparent during The Legend of Korra. I would personally love to see this world return to its roots in the work of Studio Ghibli and further explore the nature of the Spirit World through the lens of East Asian culture. Rather than focusing on a conflict between humans, devoting more attention to the spirits would allow the franchise to dive further into its more mystical elements and environmentalist themes.

The Next Avatar

Perhaps the most obvious option, introducing the next Avatar in the reincarnation cycle following Korra would be an exciting step forward for the franchise. After Avatar: The Last Airbender introduced fans to a world based on ancient East Asian culture and The Legend of Korra added a heavy helping of steampunk and the Roaring Twenties to that world, what kind of setting and technology would the next Avatar navigate? How would the show address the evolving link between the Spirit World and the physical realm? How would the new Avatar come to terms with their disconnection from all of their past lives other than Korra? Fast-forwarding to this future would provide so many exciting narrative opportunities. 

Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Voltron: Legendary Defender, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, also writes for the website, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.

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