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.
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'texactlyspotless 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.
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.
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.
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 Gabriel, as a matter of fact, remained in the Nickelodeon Avatar franchise and took the major role of Asami Sato in The Legend of Korra, which was a Star-Making Role for her. Bryan and Mike even note that getting to meet Seychelle was one of the few positives that came from this trainwreck of a film.
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.