What We Could See In The Expanded World of Avatar: The Last Airbender

What We Could See In The Expanded World of Avatar: The Last Airbender
The story of Wan in The Legend of Korra hints at how much more there is to explore. (Image: Nickelodeon)

“Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” OK, but how exactly? That’s one of the many, many questions that could be answered in a future Avatar: The Last Airbender series, as creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino launch Nickelodeon’s Avatar Studios. The pair have hinted at years of ideas — each one having its story and style within the world of Avatar — but we’ve got some ideas of our own.

“We want each of these projects to have its own feeling, its own tone and look. It’ll all feel true to the Avatar world, but they’ll all be different expressions of it,” Konietzko said on Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: Braving the Elements” podcast.

In a recent appearance on “Avatar: Braving the Elements,” hosted by The Legend of Korra’s Janet Varney and Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Dante Basco, Konietzko and DiMartino discussed their plans for Avatar Studios. Following the creators’ exit from Netflix’s planned Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series, Nickelodeon launched an entire division dedicated to creating shows, films, novels, and other properties within the world of Avatar. DiMartino shared how Nickelodeon has given him and Konietzko a great deal of creative freedom to pursue projects that matter to them, and to the world of Avatar.

“The way we’re approaching it now is so different than Avatar. We’re coming in now and we have unprecedented support from Nickelodeon. It is the franchise, the shows and the animated stuff, but also other stuff beyond in publishing and podcasts,” he said. “We have all these ideas. And ideally we’re gonna get to, over the years, explore all of them and make them. But it’ll take a long time.”

The pair were reluctant to talk about any of the ideas they’re percolating — all we know currently is that there’s a full-length animated film in the works — but Konietzko noted how they’re looking at both the “history and future” of Avatar’s world. That’s quite a big range, spanning thousands of years and countless Avatar regenerations. So far (apart from the books and graphic novels), we’ve been mostly limited to the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender and companion series The Legend of Korra, which took place after Avatar Aang’s death. The idea of getting to go back (or forward) hundreds or even thousands of years promises such a huge playground. Game of Thrones, eat your heart out.

“We just keep tapping into this wellspring in the way that inspires us, and finding great creative partners to work with us and to help us explore these ideas. Mike and I have sort of mapped out a very ambitious, multi-tiered — I don’t know, it feels like a big octopus,” Konietzko said. “We’re just looking at how we can go deeper into this big, rich, largely untapped history and future in the Avatar world. There are ideas that we’ve been excited about for a long time, that we’re finally getting to really dive into. And then there’s things that we’re just figuring out, just getting excited about. If we were just trying to take requests, it’s not the way to carve out a big fantasy universe.”

Sure, Konietzko said they’re not taking requests for show and movie ideas — but that’s not going to stop us from making suggestions! Personally, I’d love to see the story of the Second Avatar, after Wan. We learned about Wan in The Legend of Korra and how he became the First Avatar, but I’d love to see the first reincarnation. How did they react to being the first person born with this huge responsibility of maintaining balance between the physical and spiritual worlds — and, perhaps more importantly, how did the world react to them? It’s fascinating to think about.