Earlier today, Netflix announced plans to make a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series. The cartoon’s original creators have signed on as showrunners and have promised to not white-wash the show. Even before that statement was made, we here at SuperBroMovies knew we would not even consider that route when making our fancast.
The original series pulled from many east Asian cultures and, while the four nations definitely had standout characteristics resembling China, Japan, Tibet and Inuit nations, the visual details were an amalgam. Casting a live action show made up of primarily child actors is always difficult. Further difficulty is added when considering this show will take years to complete and be special effects heavy, extending the time between shooting and post-production.
Casting a 12 year old now will just result in him growing a foot and a half in between Season 1 and 2. Instead, you have to find that middle ground where they look young in the face but can be shot to appear younger in form during production.
Forrest Wheeler as Aang
Fourteen year old Forrest Wheeler has played Emery Huang, one of the three children in the family on the show Fresh Off the Boat for 4 seasons now. This show is a critically acclaimed comedy featuring an all-Asian cast. Being a child actor with this amount of experience is incredibly valuable. Outside of the show, Wheeler has a black belt in Karate and a second black belt in Extreme Martial Arts. He even went to US Open Martial Arts Championship and won seven 1st places.
Auli’i Cravalho as Katara
Finding young Inuit actors was practically impossible, unfortunately. Katara and Sokka are two of the only non-east Asian characters in the show, they should be appropriately represented as dark skinned. I decided to go in the direction of Pacific Islander as the water connection was interesting. Cravalho is best known as the voice of Moana in the titular animated movie. I have always valued voice acting experience when casting live-action roles of properties that have had animated incarnations. Moana’s wanderlust and stubbornness would lend well to Katara’s personality from the show.
Otis Dhanji as Sokka
My choice to go Pacific Islander for the water tribe is reminiscent of the movie Aquaman and it’s choice for lead role. In that version of the DC character, Arthur is impulsive and brutish. Sokka shares these traits equally in A:TLA. Dhanji plays a young Aquaman and I can only imagine he would be even more wild at that age. This experience and his long hair will be great to inhabit the role of Sokka.
Ryan Potter as Prince Zuko
Comic fans will know Potter as Beast Boy on the upcoming DC Universe streaming show Titans. But before he got that role, he campaigned hard for the role of Robin in the films. He released a viral try-out video showing his martial arts talent. His experience may be primarily based in comedy, but it’s the test of a true comedian to know how to play timing and awkwardness in the opposite direction. I think Potter has the range to play the full gamut that is the complex character of Zuko.
Lana Condor as Suki
We know little about the plotline of the first season of this Netflix show. It is being billed as a “re-imagining” so I would expect it to follow the skeleton of the original show. Therefore I am casting for original season 1 characters. Another female lead is needed and Toph will likely not appear yet. Besides, Suki and Sokka are one of the shows earliest blatant relationships. A romance is necessary and so is Suki. I also think Netflix will want to jump at any chance to have a main character that’s not a bender and save their budget. Netflix likes to keep their hires in-house and bringing Condor in will bring a whole new audience in after her star-making performace in To All The Boys I Loved Before. Not only that but Lana Condor play great off of silly guys.
Randall Park as Uncle Iroh
Iroh is the purest comedic character on the show. But it also speaks to the quality of the original cartoon that Iroh has so many other sides to him. Randall Park is a incredibly versatile actor with experience as a family man in Fresh Off the Boat, a comedian in countless films like The Interview and also a FBI Agent in Ant-Man and the Wasp. He is someone that can flip in an instant between sage advice and uproarious self-deprecation.
Donnie Yen as Commander Zhao
Despite Avatar: The Last Airbender being one of the most beloved cartoons ever, it never hurts to bring in some star power. With the show being primarily composed of child actors, the best chance to wow people is in it’s few adult characters. Zhao is the bad guy in the very first season, competing with Zuko to capture the Avatar first. Having a master martial artist and arguably the most popular moviestar of the genre currently, will give the show further excitement before release.
Ken Jeong as Cabbage Guy