Unfazed by Shyamalan’s movie, Nickelodeon okays new Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series

Unfazed by Shyamalan’s movie, Nickelodeon okays new Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series

If there’s one bright ray of hope among the murky blur of M. Night Shyamalan’s 3-D mess The Last Airbender, it’s that mainstream news sources have by and large consistently acknowledged that the film was based on a tremendously popular, highly respected, and just plain well-done Nickelodeon animated series. Now, Nick has announced that it’s about to follow that show with a new series based in the same world.

Original series creators and producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko conceptualized the new series, currently titled The Legend Of Korra, as a direct sequel. According to a Nickelodeon press release which came out today, Korra takes place 70 years after the events in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and concerns the adventures of a girl named Korra, the latest in a line of avatars, who master martial-arts-based control (or “bending”) of the elements of water, fire, earth, and air. Avatar: The Last Airbender was about a 10-year-old avatar named Aang returning to the world after a century of absence, and attempting to deal with the war of conquest that reshaped the map after his disappearance; The Legend Of Korra will deal with subsequent generations:

[Korra is] a passionate, rebellious, and fearless teenaged girl from the Southern Water Tribe… With three of the four elements under her belt (Earth, Water, and Fire), Korra seeks to master the final element, Air. Her quest leads her to the epicenter of the modern Avatar world, Republic City—a metropolis that is fueled by steampunk technology. It is a virtual melting pot where benders and non-benders from all nations live and thrive. However, Korra discovers that Republic City is plagued by crime as well as a growing anti-bending revolution that threatens to rip it apart. Under the tutelage of Aang's son, Tenzin, Korra begins her airbending training while dealing with the dangers at large.

The series is planned for launch in 2011. Meanwhile, there’s no word yet on whether Paramount will green-light Shyamalan’s planned second and third installments in the Last Airbender series, adapting the second and third seasons in the animated series. The first one remains a critical and commercial disappointment compared to the high hopes the studio had for it, but it still looks likely to not only recoup its production costs, but make a significant profit if it takes off in overseas markets and eventually on video. Meanwhile, Shyamalan remains incautiously optimistic, talking up his plans for the rest of the series in publicity interviews, explaining that the next film will be “much darker.” Which seems like a poor choice of words, either considering the complaints about his white-skinned protagonists or about the dim, grimy cinematography. But then no one ever accused M. Night of being too conscious of his critics.