Avatar’s New Live-Action Netflix Rumors All But Guarantee Zutara

Avatar: The Last Airbender is beloved as an animated series, so the idea of a live-action adaptation from Netflix is concerning to many fans. These concerns were only heightened when the series' original creators, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, announced that they were leaving the Netflix project due to creative differences, leading to fears the live-action show would depart severely from its source material. The latest batch of rumors seems to confirm major changes are in store, but one segment of the fanbase has reason to be happy about these changes: Zutara shippers.

According to a report from The Illuminerdi, "It looks like the live-action reimaging is changing [the characters' ages] up with Katara now the older sibling at age 16 and Sokka her younger brother at age 14. Aang will still be 12." If these reports that Katara is being aged up are true, this pretty much makes a Katara/Zuko romance a certainty for the Netflix adaptation.

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Flipping Katara and Sokka's ages would cause a notable shift in the story and character dynamic. In the original show, Sokka was the older brother too young to join the men at war and Katara was the younger sister forced to grow up prematurely to care for her family. The reboot will have to offer different motivations for their characters. Most of all, increasing the age gap between Katara and Aang from two years to four years makes any romance between them, already something many fans had trouble buying into, too uncomfortable to even attempt.

If a romance between Katara and Aang is off the table, then the next most likely central romance would be one between Katara and Zuko. Though their friendship in the original series never blossomed into an explicit romance, the chemistry between the characters and the jealous tension it created between Katara and Aang served as potent fuel for shippers. Assuming Zuko's age isn't changed, Katara and Zuko will both be the exact same age in the live-action show, making a romance between them even more tenable. Though this would be a significant departure from the original series, it would be a change with some merit.

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The primary romance between Katara and Aang was one of the most criticized aspects of the otherwise near-perfect original series. Some fans disliked it because of how young Aang is, how quickly the romance develops in under a year and how much of a distraction it becomes from the main storyline. Changing the romantic endgame from Kataang to Zutara could be the new showrunners' way of trying to improve on a perceived weakness of the story.

However, it's also notable that Aang's affection for Katara was a critical point of his character arc, providing the dramatic tension between his responsibility to the world and the personal attachments that caused him to question his role as the Avatar. While it might for the better if Aang does not end up with Katara, it's still important that he have feelings for her even if they're not reciprocated.

Any remake is forced to balance between two extremes, maintaining enough fidelity to the source material that it can recapture what fans originally loved while still making enough changes that it does not suffer from being totally redundant. Making the Zutara ship canon could be a positive change for the series, but it would almost certainly prove to be a controversial decision either way.