The Last Airbender is a 2010 American action fantasy adventure film written, co-produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It is based on the first season of the Nickelodeon animated series of the same name. The film stars Noah Ringer as Aang, with Dev Patel as Prince Zuko, Nicola Peltz as Katara, and Jackson Rathbone as Sokka. Development for the film began in 2007. It was produced by Nickelodeon Movies and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Premiering in New York City on June 30, 2010, it opened the following day in the rest of the country, grossing an estimated $16 million.
15-year-old Sokka and his 14-year-old sister, Katara, are near a river at the Southern Water Tribe, a small village in the South Pole. While hunting, they discover an iceberg that when broken open shoots a beam of light into the sky. Inside of the iceberg is a 12-year-old boy named Aang and a giant flying bison named Appa. Unknown to them, Aang is the long-lost Avatar — the only person capable of "bending" all 4 elements of Air, Water, Earth and Fire. A century (100 years) has passed since the Fire Nation has declared war on the other 3 nations of Air, Water, and Earth in their attempt to conquer the world.
Zuko is the scarred 16-year-old exiled prince of the Fire Nation on a quest to find the Avatar and bring him to his father, Fire Lord Ozai, so he can regain his honor. Seeing the light that appeared from Aang's release, Zuko and some Fire Nation soldiers arrive at the Southern Water Tribe to demand the villagers hand over the Avatar. Aang reveals himself and surrenders to Zuko on the condition that he agrees to leave the village alone. On the ship, Aang is tested by Zuko's paternal uncle Iroh to confirm he is the Avatar. After being informed that he is to be their prisoner for passing the test, Aang escapes using his glider and flies to his flying bison brought by Katara and Sokka. Aang and his new friends visit the Southern Air Temple where they meet a winged lemur, who Aang later names Momo. Aang also learns that he was in the ice for a whole century and that the Fire Nation wiped out all of the Air Nomads, including his guardian, Monk Gyatso. In despair, he enters the Avatar State and finds himself in the Spirit World where he encounters a Dragon Spirit. Katara's pleas bring Aang back out of the Avatar State.
To seek shelter, Aang's group arrives at a little Earth Kingdom village controlled by the Fire Nation, but are arrested and taken to a prison for Earthbenders surrounded by earth  because Katara tries to help a young boy escape from Fire Nation soldiers. They incite a rebellion by reminding the disgruntled Earthbenders that Earth was given to them. Aang tells Katara and Sokka that he only knows airbending and must master the other three elements. Katara is given a waterbending scroll that she uses to greatly strengthen and hone her waterbending abilities and to help Aang learn as they make their way to the Northern Water Tribe (where Aang will be able to learn from waterbending masters) and liberate more Earth Kingdom villages in the process, weakening the Fire Nation's food and water supplies.
During a side track to the Northern Air Temple on his own, Aang is betrayed by a Southern Earth Kingdom peasant and captured by a group of Fire Nation archers, led by Commander Zhao, a Fire Nation Commander appointed by the Fire Lord. However, a masked marauder, the "Blue Spirit", helps Aang escape from his imprisonment, fighting off the Fire Nation soldiers under Zhao's command until the blue spirit realises they will be overwhelmed, at which point he takes Aang hostage to negotiate their way out. During the prison break, Zhao realizes that Zuko is the masked vigilante. He arranges to kill the prince, first by having a crossbowman fire a bolt over a huge distance that shatters the lower half of Zuko's mask and knocks him out, however Aang uses his skills to bend a cloud across the bridge connecting the prison to the other side of the valley, causing the Fire Nation soldiers in pursuit to stop in fear. With the cloud covering their escape, Aang escapes with an unconscious Zuko into a nearby forest and watches over Zuko until morning, when he leaves to reunite with Sokka and Katara. Zhao tries again to kill Zuko, this time by rupturing a gas pipe running through Zuko's quarters on Iroh's ship. Noticing the danger, Zuko manages to survive the attempt on his life with Iroh's help. He sneaks aboard Zhao's lead ship as his fleet departs for the Northern Water Tribe, which is a heavy fortress, to capture the Avatar. Upon arriving, Aang's group is welcomed warmly by the citizens of the Northern Water Tribe. Sokka quickly befriends the Northern Water Tribe princess, Yue. After a few agreements, a waterbending master, Pakku, teaches Aang waterbending. Katara also becomes a much stronger and more powerful waterbender due to her training with Master Pakku.
Soon, the Fire Nation arrives and Zhao begins his attack while Zuko begins his search for the Avatar on his own. After defeating Katara in a battle, Zuko captures Aang as he enters the Spirit World to find the Dragon Spirit to give him the wisdom to defeat the Fire Nation who tells him to let his emotions "flow like water". Returning to his body, Aang battles Zuko before Katara freezes him. Before leaving to join the battle, Aang lowers the ice so that Zuko can breathe. As the battle escalates, Iroh watches Zhao capture the Moon Spirit, with which its Ocean Spirit counterpart had assumed the form of a fish. Despite Iroh's pleas, Zhao kills the Moon Spirit to strip all of the waterbenders of their ability to waterbend. Iroh, enraged by Zhao's disrespect for sacredness and by his actions to unbalance the world, reveals the extent of his mastery of firebending by using his chi to create huge flame jets from his wrists, scaring Zhao and his entourage of Fire Nation Soldiers out of the sacred cave. Yue explains to everyone that the Moon Spirit gave her life and, with Iroh's help, realises she can give her life back to the Moon Spirit as she dies in the process. With the tables turned, Zhao finds out Zuko survived. They almost fight before Iroh appears and tells Zuko it's not worth it. Zhao attempts one more time to kill Zuko with a massive blast of fire, which Iroh manages to deflect. Zhao is drowned by waterbenders after Zuko and Iroh leave him to his fate. Aang remembers his life before being trapped in the ice, including when he left his home, seeing his master's face. With his waterbending powers and his emotions "flowing like water", Aang enters the Avatar State and raises the ocean into a gigantic wall to drive the armada back. Aang now fully embraces his destiny as the Avatar as he, Katara and Sokka prepare to continue their journey to the Earth Kingdom to find an earthbending teacher for Aang. The Fire Lord learns of the defeat; angry over the betrayal of his brother Iroh and the failure of his eldest son Zuko, he tasks his youngest daughter, Zuko's sister, Azula to stop the Avatar from mastering Earth and Fire before the arrival of Sozin's Comet.
- Noah Ringer as Aang
- Dev Patel as Prince Zuko
- Nicola Peltz as Katara
- Jackson Rathbone as Sokka
- Shaun Toub as Uncle Iroh
- Aasif Mandvi as Commander Zhao
- Seychelle Gabriel as Princess Yue
- Cliff Curtis as Fire Lord Ozai
- Summer Bishil as Princess Azula
- Francis Guinan as Master Pakku
- Randall Duk Kim as Old man in temple
- Isaac Jin Solstein as Haru
- Keong Sim as Tyro
- John Noble as Dragon Spirit
According to an interview with the co-creators in SFX magazine, Shyamalan came across Avatar when his daughter wanted to be Katara for Halloween. Intrigued, Shyamalan researched and watched the series with his family. "Watching Avatar has become a family event in my house ... so we are looking forward to how the story develops in season three," said Shyamalan. "Once I saw the amazing world that Mike and Bryan created, I knew it would make a great feature film." He added he was attracted to the spiritual and martial arts influences on the show.
Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko voiced their opinion within an interview regarding Shyamalan writing, directing, and producing the film. The two displayed much enthusiasm over Shyamalan's decision for the adaptation, stating that they admire his work and, in turn, he respects their material. Producer Frank Marshallexplained that they have high hopes to stick to a PG rating. "I'm not even sure we want to get in the PG-13 realm. Furthermore, Shyamalan said, "A lot of the inspiration for the direction we took comes from a friend of mine. A Nathan Blackmer helped shape this Idea into the film it became. I took away a little bit of the slapsticky stuff that was there for the little little kids, the fart jokes and things like that...We grounded Katara's brother...and that really did wonderful things for the whole theme of the movie." Paramount's president Brad Grey said that despite the director's career being inconsistent, he "believed in [Shyamalan's] vision and that he could execute it," adding that "It's a bold step because he had to create a potential new franchise." The studio was willing to spend $250 million in a trilogy of films, one for each season. The Last Airbender's budget wound up being $150 million, with later over $130 million being spent on marketing costs, making it Shyamalan's most expensive film. During production, the name Avatar was removed from the title to avoid confusion with the highly-successful 2009 film Avatar.
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