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One of the most popular series of all time on the Nickelodeon network was Avatar: The Last Airbender. That series detailed the hero’s quest of a 10-year-old boy named Aang in his journey to fulfill his destiny as the Avatar, the master of all four elements: earth, wind, fire and air. The 2008 series finale ended with the end of the hundred years’ war and the friendship of Prince Zuko of the fire nation and Avatar Aang. It was extremely well written and the finale was one of Nickelodeon’s highest rated programs ever.
The series was popular enough to spawn an ill-conceived movie. Despite the box office failure of this movie, the calls for an Avatar sequel and a continuation of the story never really stopped. At the 2010 Comic-Con the producers of the series, Michael Dante DeMartino and Bryan Konietzko announced that the sequel to the Last Airbender was in the works. Tomorrow, April 14th, 2012, Nickelodeon will air this long anticipated story and delight millions of fans across the globe.
Writing a sequel to anything is difficult because you must establish or reaffirm your connection to the original series and yet go in a different direction to build and gain a new audience. Rather than tell the continuing story of Avatar Aang and his family and friends, the sequel, The Legend of Korra, picks up 70 years after the finale of the original series. The new Avatar (yes, Aang has died), 17-year-old Korra, knows how to bend earth, fire and water, but not air. It is up to Aang’s son, Tenzin, to teach Korra how to bend and manipulate this final element. (And yes, true believers, Katara is Tenzin’s mother.)
So, why did I say that this new series is “Avatar meets Batman Beyond?” Because when the producers of Batman: The Animated Series wanted to do a follow on series, they faced a similar dilemma. The result was Batman Beyond, which picked up 50 years in the future from the current Batman series. The new hero was mentored by the old and in this case we have the same scenario. Our new hero, Korra, will be mentored by the adult son, Tenzin, of her predecessor, Aang.
This formula worked for Batman Beyond and it will also work for The Legend of Korra. And to me, therein lies part of the problem this series will have. The leap in technology between Aang’s era and Korra’s is…disconcerting. Korra’s era’s has electricity, cars, radio and Aang’s did not. And Aang’s time did not appear to be close to such inventions, at least to me. I realize that such a technology leap is possible, but again, to me, it was too much and took a lot away from my viewing enjoyment.
Nickelodeon has been showing previews of the series during the last month on their website and I think they have a real winner on their hands. They’ve already picked up 26 episodes of this program (short of the 52, generally needed for syndication) and with its built-in audience, this show should succeed. I know I’ll be watching. And if you’re a fan of the Avatar premise, you should be too.