An “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Director Revealed Why Nickelodeon Added “The Last Airbender” To The Title, And Yeah, It’s What You Think

    "In 2004, we learned that we had to change the name of our show..."

    Remember that critically-acclaimed animated show about the four nations that lived in harmony until everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked? The one that still has all of us in a chokehold? Avatar: The Last Airbender?

    Yeah, so recently, Giancarlo Volpe, an animator for the series who also directed 19 episodes, revealed why they decided to name the show Avatar: The Last Airbender instead of just Avatar.

    Giancarlo Volpe attends The 2nd Annual HCA TV Awards: Streaming at The Beverly Hilton

    I mean, the name makes sense — Aang is the titular last surviving airbender (who sort of, kind of vanished when the world needed him most?). But still, the show easily could have just been called Avatar, and, turns out, it was!

    Volpe explained that, in 2004, they learned they had to add "The Last Airbender" to the show's name because James Cameron had already owned the rights to "a movie called Avatar."

    Now, I imagine we all remember James Cameron's Avatar — the one with the blue people — that was praised for its groundbreaking visual effects, broke multiple box office records, and became the highest-grossing film of all time. You know the one.

    Well, Cameron actually began working on Avatar in 1994 and intended for it to come out in 1999, but the technology needed to create his vision wasn't available at the time, so it didn't come out until 2009.

    Meanwhile, Avatar: The Last Airbender ran from 2005 to 2008, and we always have to say "not the one with the blue people" anytime we refer to it.

    And then, The Legend of Korra — a spin-off following Aang's successor, an avatar from the Southern Water Tribe — came out in 2012. By name alone, it doesn't obviously relate to Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    Nevertheless, The Legend of Korra also received critical acclaim and went on to run for four seasons. And the second season mainly took place in the Southern Water Tribe, which was introduced in the beginning of Avatar: The Last Airbender as Sokka and Katara's home.

    Anyway, why did this all come up now? Well, this week, the sequel to Cameron's Avatar is coming out, and it's called Avatar: The Way of Water.

    Obviously, "The Way of Water" doesn't do much to differentiate the blue people movies from a series about people who can telekinetically manipulate the four elements (especially given the prominence of waterbending in the series, from Katara to Korra).

    This wasn't lost on the Avatar: The Last Airbender team. And since Cameron's Avatar is meant to be a pentalogy — yeah, penta- like five whole movies — and the third film has already completed principal filming, Volpe took to Twitter to explain the whole name thing and crack a joke. "If part 3 is called 'The Firebending Masters,'" he tweeted, "we riot."

    In 2004 we learned that we had to change the name of our show from “Avatar” to “Avatar the Last Airbender” because James Cameron already had the rights to a movie called Avatar. Now the sequel is called “The Way of Water.” If part 3 is called “The Firebending Masters” we riot

    Twitter: @Giancarlo_Volpe

    So, stay tuned, kids! And don't forget, the new live-action Netflix remake (without series creators Michael Dante DiMartino or Bryan Konietzko's involvement) is in the works. Plus, a yet-to-be-named animated film following the Gaang (Boomeraang?) as adults is in the works and set to be released in 2025 (with Bryan and Michael producing).