The entirety of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series is heading to Netflix this May, but some fans are still longing for the closure that they didn’t receive at the series’ conclusion. One way to remedy this is, in addition to Netflix adding Aang and company to its lineup, it should also look into adapting the graphic novel — Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search — into an animated film to finally give fans of the show (who skipped over the supplementary material) the answers to some big questions left unanswered by the cartoon.
When Nickelodeon ended Aang’s run as the Avatar in 2008, the fate of both Azula and the whereabouts of her and Zuko’s mother was left dangling. Then, after five long years, a three-part graphic novel follow-up was released to address both of these threads, while also further exploring certain character relationships. Not only did it solve the mystery of what happened to Zuko’s mother, but it also revealed many long-kept secrets about her arranged marriage to then Fire Prince Ozai.
Zuko’s mother, Ursa, is a descendant of the great Avatar Roku, and the comic expands on what we learned in the show — that her marriage to Ozai was arranged by Fire Lord Azulong in a ploy to mix bloodlines and ensure his family’s continued rule over the Fire Nation. Zuko and Azula also have some very touching — albeit crazy — moments throughout the story, proving the two still feel a degree of love for one another. This dynamic alone is something that a wider audience needs to see, not only for the character progression of Zuko but also for the complex progression of a tortured Azula.
Another area of the Avatar universe that gets examined during these volumes is the Spirit World. It is shown that spirits, like humans, also have familial bonds and there are even some so powerful that they can exist and move freely in both planes. Some of the spirits in the franchise existed even before time itself — including one that had already made an appearance in the TV series. Koh, the Face Stealer, is one of these ancient and mysterious beings that was born outside of time to a very powerful god-like mother. Though it only appeared in one episode, it’s terrifying nature was enough to make it stick in viewers’ minds. The Search finds a way to uncover more about what this memorable creature is by weaving it into the fabric of the central character’s lives. Until the release of The Legend of Korra, the powers of the spirits in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender hadn’t been explored in such depth before.
Netflix has already tried its hand at expanding the stories of two of Nickelodeons completed shows — producing two very good films that were based on Invader Zim and Rocko’s Modern Life. So, it’s safe to say that an Avatar film would be treated with similar care. With as large a fanbase as the show already has, Netflix would really be missing out if it lets an opportunity to contribute something extra to the animated franchise pass it by.
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Netflix has the perfect opportunity to bring one of the most important Avatar: The Last Airbender comics to the small screen.