M. Night Shyamalan Compares Last Airbender to The Matrix
Seemingly out of twists in his storytelling arsenal, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has taken to his first film not based on his own original concept. The film, which now has two fancy posters, is an adaptation of the Nickelodeon series "Avatar: The Last Airbender." However, now it has the less blue-alien-thought-provoking title of The Last Airbender. Shyamalan sat down with Hero Complex to discuss what drew him to the property, comparisons to The Matrix, and some of the thematic elements in the film. So what is it about this series that was more appealing than the previously offered Harry Potter franchise? Read on!
If you're unfamiliar with the series, it's set in a world where the four ancient elements (fire, earth, water and air) can be manipulated by a select group of magical humans known as "benders." The brutal firebenders, known as the Fire Nation, are intent on world domination and the only thing standing in their way is Aang, last of the airbenders, who is also the Avatar, the only one who can wield all four of the elemental groups.
Sounds like a pretty cool premise to see adapted to live-action and Shyamalan was drawn in from the get-go. He recalls a story of his seven-year-old daughter getting her whole family to watch the series:
"She made us watch as a family and all four of us were hooked. I was like, 'This would make a killer movie.' And my wife who really has been kind of in neutral about my career was insane about it. Insane about it: ‘You have to do it. This is it. This is the one.'"
But on a deeper level, Shyamalan was drawn to the the subtext that is a great representation of the Buddhist philosophy. Even though it's a cartoon, that doesn't mean it can't be this smart. He explains:
"Aang himself needs to find balance to be the Avatar and to master each of these elements. We get to see the process of someone mastering themselves through the three seasons to get to peace."
And of course, a discussion of any upcoming film wouldn't completely without comparisons to a successful predecessor that has similar tones and themes. Shyamalan seems to have a predilection towards The Matrix.
“In the first Matrix, you realize that what you're seeing is all false. Those are really ancient ideas. Basic old, old religion. This has that as well. So if you go on the journey and you'll feel that epiphany on top of a great roller-coaster ride. It's going to be something.“
While I wasn't particularly wowed by the teaser trailer from last year, maybe the forthcoming theatrical trailer and Super Bowl spot wiill change my mind. The premise sounds intriguing and since I haven't ever been interested in the series, this will be as fresh as can be. Stay tuned for the premiere of the new trailer, hopefully sooner than later. And if you're curious to hear more from Shyamalan about the series, be sure to read the entire interview over on Hero Complex. We'll be following this closely for updates. If you want to know more about the series, read our rundown from July. Are you excited for The Last Airbender?