Last week, we heard the exciting news that Paramount Animation was finally ready to ramp up its animated feature slate by hiring seven scribes to pen new projects, some of which would be shepherded by Mary Parent and J.J. Abrams. More specifically, Paramount chief Brad Grey was tasked with hitting up the studio’s sister division, Nickelodeon, for properties that could be adapted into feature films. Among the series listed was The Legend of Korra.
The reaction to this news has thus far been pretty polarized. On the one hand, a Korra movie sounds like a dynamite idea; after the overwhelming popularity of the show’s first season, a feature film would broaden that audience and introduce the franchise to a whole new untapped market of viewers. On the other hand, we also heard this same pitch for M. Night Shyamalan‘s widely disdained live-action film The Last Airbender, which was adapted from the original Avatar series.
Of course, that doesn’t mean a Korra movie couldn’t work. On the contrary, its potential for success has never been better. The trick is bringing in all the right elements from the show and adapting them to the big screen. So, without any further adieu, here’s what we’d like to see in a potential movie for The Legend of Korra…
If there’s one thing we learned from 2010’s The Last Airbender, it’s that the world isn’t ready for another live-action Avatar movie. It’s not just that the fans are reluctant to see a sequel — and trust me, they’re flat out terrified of that idea — but the prospect of any Avatar film, Shyamalan-helmed or otherwise, is still a bit of a box office gamble.
Fortunately, a Korra movie has the perfect out in animation. While there’s no telling what kind of approach the studios would take with an animated feature adaptation, it’s likely that it would maintain at least some resemblance to the current series. CGI is by no means out of the question, but a more traditional, hand-drawn style seems in keeping with the spirit of the show — and with Paramount wanting to keep the budgets of these new films under $100 million, this is assuredly within the realm of possibility.
In any case, I think most of us can agree that The Last Airbender’s visual interpretation was lacking, to say the least. Remember when it took six earthbenders to move a single rock at two miles per hour? Imagine, instead, the aesthetic scope of an animated Korra movie. If nothing else, it would definitely open up the doors to more fluid action sequences and fully realized set-pieces.
Another big problem with The Last Airbender was that it attempted to condense 20 half-hour episode’s worth of story into 90 minutes. Needless to say, in Korra’s case, it would be pretty useless to adapt the show’s first season — or any season — into a feature film, especially an animated one. Naturally, the best course of action would be to tell an original story that we haven’t seen yet.
As for the content, a Korra movie could go in one of several directions. One option could be a totally separate adventure told within the continuity of the Korra television series (a la Star Wars: The Clone Wars). For this, the film could take place during a hiatus — the six months in between Book One and Two, for example — sending Team Avatar off on a standalone journey that begins and ends within the span of the movie.
The more plausible option, though, is to have it take place after the fourth and final season of Korra, perhaps examining some of the universe’s more expansive themes and characters. This would also be a great platform to explore an even bigger crossover with the original Avatar series, revisiting the likes of Avatar Aang, Fire Lord Zuko and the rest of the gang.
Conversely, the movie could act as a prequel, bridging the 70-year gap between both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Here, you could have Tenzin, Lin, Pema and Bumi as the younger, principal cast members, with the original series’ adult counterparts mixed into the overarching plot. After all, we’ve still only learned bits and pieces of what’s occurred between the end of the Hundred Year War and the birth of Korra; maybe a movie could provide some context for that particular era.
It’s true, there’s never any guarantee that a TV-to-film adaptation will be any good, but specific measures can be taken to avoid hitting a brick wall. First and foremost, you have to land a competent creative team, one familiar with the source material and a passion for good storytelling. Usually, this sort of project would require a whole new lot of industry folk to bring the show to life on the big screen.
However, since this would be an animated movie anyway, why not give showrunners Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko a crack at the script? It’s obvious from years of experience that these dudes know what’s up in the Avatar universe, and they’ve been developing and delivering top-shelf content for nearly a decade. Surely, at this point, they’ve earned the right to a little more creative input than a name-only producer’s credit. Given the time and resources, these guys could turn out an excellent two-hour film.
What’s more, there’s really no sense in recasting the voices either. Janet Varney, J.K. Simmons, Mindy Sterling, P.J. Byrne, David Faustino and Seychelle Gabriel are all more than qualified to reprise their roles for a feature. If anything, the production could tap a few celebrity voices for new villains or allies. Fortunately, if Nickelodeon’s previous animated movies are any indication, this may be the best chance we get at a faithful continuation of the Legend of Korra franchise, both in tone and talent.
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