Trivia / The Last Airbender


  • Ability over Appearance: The filmmakers invoked this trope against criticism of the Race Lift of various characters. People criticized this even more once they saw said characters having negligible emotion.
  • Big Name Fan: Milla Jovovich of all people is a fan of this movie, according to this interview. Even the interviewer is confused.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget: $150 million for production, plus $130 million for marketing. Box office: $131,772,187 (U.S. and Canada), $319,713,881 (globally).
  • Cast the Expert: Noah Ringer (Aang) was cast more for his martial arts experience (he earned a black belt in Taekwondo at the age of ten, and was very proficient with a staff) than his acting ability; in fact, he had to take acting lessons before shooting started because he'd never acted in front of a green screen before. Ironically, however, he did seem to have the personality that would fit Aang (energetic, fun-loving, etc.), and he had already shaved his head.
  • Creator Killer: M. Night Shyamalan's career wasn't exactly spotless before this film, but it looks to be the final nail in the coffin. He was neither the screenwriter (though he did get a "story by" credit) nor the director of his next film, Devil, and his name actually drew jeers from audiences when it appeared in trailers. His next directorial effort, After Earth, did not mention him in any promotional material and also avoided showing his name until the ending credits rolled. He has begun a tentative comeback with The Visit, though.
  • Creator's Oddball: M. Night's only direct adaptation, and only children's film.
  • Dawson Casting: Jackson Rathbone (24) as Sokka (15-16). The actress who was intended to play Suki, Jessica Andres, was the same age. The other characters are played by actors of a closer age. Rathbone apparently had a good screen test with Peltz and very much looked like her older brother. He looks awkward playing opposite Dev Patel, who is six years younger despite playing a character one year his senior.
  • Deleted Scene: A significant number, the exclusion of them apparently due to Executive Meddling. At 100 minutes the movie had a real breakneck pace, with the deleted scenes fleshing out the story, personalities and doing some more world building. Notably, an entire subplot with Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors were part of the film. Some have noted that a lot of these scenes harken closer to the spirit of the show, with one in particular having Aang enjoy himself dancing with villagers after rooting out the Fire Nation (versus almost always being rather dour throughout the movie).
  • Disowned Adaptation: Avatar co-creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko seem to share their fanbase's distaste for the film, having said in interviews that it distorted their vision of Avatar and have even advised people, including members of the original cast, not to watch it.
  • Executive Meddling: Word has been spread that the producers of the movie pulled the strings and caused it to fail. They didn't bother to watch the series, and this, along with nepotism and a mismanaged budget, caused Shyamalan and the show creators to give up on the movie outright. Apparently the shooting script was rewritten and outside of their hands, and after filming the Southern Water Tribe scene on location in Iceland was completed, the budget was reorganized so the rest of the film was done in the Pennsylvania countryside and on sound stages.
  • Fan Nickname: For the Fight Scene Failure in the prison camp. Everybody do the Pebble-Dance!
    • From the same scene, Katara pushing one soldier to the ground and then just standing there doing nothing else is called the Ka-Tackle.
    • The movie's really unfortunate case of Race Lift is called Racebending.
  • Franchise Killer: While the series itself continued, the extremely negative public response and critical failure of this film quashed sequels for a while. Then Paramount announced the second film.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: During filming, M. Night Shyamalan proclaimed this would be his best movie. Given that it won five Golden Raspberry Awards and lost Paramount Pictures a fair chunk of change to boot, it's probably safe to say it is not.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: Two of them involve Sokka. One has him flirting with Yue by telling her "I taught him that," implying that he was talking about Aang. Another one had him cheering during the climactic battle after defeating the Fire Nation. It's pretty jarring that they were cut since they were pretty in-character for Sokka.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • The Daily Showís Aasif Mandvi as Admiral Zhao. At least he's already got the ham down.
    • Although M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his supernatural movies, this movie marks his first fantasy action-adventure epic, as well as his first franchise-based adaptation.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Averted. Shyamalan first heard about the show when his daughter asked to be Katara for Halloween. After watching a few episodes, he decided to make an adaptation almost immediately.
  • Star-Derailing Role: Most of the performers with major roles in this film saw this happen to them; Dev Patel, who played Zuko, Shaun Toub (Iroh), Cliff Curtis (Ozai) and Seychelle Gabriel, who played Yue, escaped this, however.note  Bryan and Mike even note that getting to meet Seychelle was one of the few positives that came from this trainwreck of a film.
  • Stillborn Franchise: Seemingly subverted; after a five-year wait, Paramount announced the sequel with Shyamalan returning as director, though it hasn't begun shooting yet.
  • Tempting Fate: A meta example. During production, Shyamalan said that the movie would be "his greatest work", as noted above. Wikipedia has a list of films widely considered to be among the worst ever made. The Last Airbender is not only one of them, it's also currently the only Shyamalan film on said list.
  • Troubled Production: According to this article, M Night Shyamalan wasn't the main reason why the film turned out bad, as the studio were equally responsible.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The first draft of the movie included all twenty episodes of the series, adding up to a whopping seven hours. Instead, the movie was cut down to barely two hours, and then studio bosses had another half-hour of film cut from theatrical release because they wanted to convert it into 3-D as quickly as possible.
    • Before things turned stillborn, Shyamalan planned to counter the 'Racebending' complaints in the sequel by casting an Asian actress as Toph.
    • Jesse Mc Cartney was originally going to play Zuko, but had to drop out due to his tour dates. This probably would have resulted in the Fire Nation citizens being played by white people as well. Avan Jogia apparently auditioned for the movie, presumably as either Zuko or Sokka.
  • Word of God: When describing why the Earthbenders didn't escape from the quarry, Shyamalan responded that they were "too dispirited" to do so. This answer somehow makes less sense when you think about it. This actually was the reason in the show, but it was caused by circumstances which were totally different.
  • One of The Last Airbenderís Razzies was for Worst Picture of 2010. Another was the one-time "Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3D".
  • The Last Airbender provides the page image for:
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