“Unbreakable” director M. Night Shyamalan has long declared his plans to make a movie version of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the beloved animated series, but it’s only recently that the filmmaker has actually taken his shot at the franchise.
But for those who doubted that the project would ever get off the ground, doubt no more — USA Today has posted images from “The Last Airbender,” the first film in a planned trilogy. The paper revealed two images from the movie, depicting the main character Aang and his arch-rival Prince Zuko (played by “Slumdog Millionaire” star Dev Patel).
Aang, the bald-headed titular Airbender, is played in the movie by 12 year-old Noah Ringer. The Texas native apparently landed the role by sending in a homemade DVD featuring his expert tae kwon do skills, in which the young actor sports a black belt. Ringer’s character is a martial artist with the ability to manipulate the weather — hence the term Airbender — who is tasked with preventing a destructive world war.
Relentlessly pursuing Aang is Prince Zuko, a nefarious firebender that can manipulate flames. Zuko is played by Patel, also a black belt in tae kown do. Patel reportedly got interested in the project while shooting “Slumdog,” having discovered the cartoon series on the set of the Oscar-winning film.
“I started watching it in my trailer in India,” Patel told USA Today. “I see why the fan base is so big. It’s got action but a lot of moral messages.”