Avatar: The Last Airbender

Airbender Casting is Complete, says Marshall

Frank Marshall

The Last Airbender’s producer Frank Marshall has posted on his twitter again, agreeing with what I’ve been saying all along.  While there are the three primary characters from Book 1 that are considered by many to be the heroes of the story… they are not the only ones.  Not by a long shot.  They didn’t claim the victory alone… they weren’t the only heroes to fight in the epic battles.  Toph still has yet to join the cast for part 2, and there are the others that are fighting along side them.

Calling Aang, Katara and Sokka the only heroes of the story is like saying Frodo and Sam claimed victory for Middle-earth alone.

Anyway, here’s the new statement from Frank Marshall:

There are more than 3 heroes. The casting on this movie is finished, so let’s all take a deep breath and wait to see it.

34 Responses to “Airbender Casting is Complete, says Marshall”

  1. keishakatara@avatardestinyportal.com says:

    He didnt say there was more than three heroes,some replied to him that there was. He then stated,there are three main protagonists of the movie. :wink:

  2. Paul Martin Specter says:

    http://twitter.com/LeDoctor/status/1472931678

    Don't know how you got all of that from this. In looking at the comments of the one to whom he replied, the person later corrected himself. However, in this case Protagonist = Hero.

  3. To Specter says:

    Wow Specter,
    you should learn how to use twitter.
    If you click on who LeDoctor was tweeting with, http://twitter.com/peprally
    you could have read the whole conversation.

    And if you knew how twitter works,
    you can only see who LeDoctor replies to.
    Right now he is getting flamed by fans, trolls, and spammers (most of them are teenage kids on spring break).
    But, there are a select few that are civil and tweeting at him in a non-maniacal way.
    Please don't clump the “maniacal fans” with the people from the http://racebending.com movement.

  4. Paul Martin Specter says:

    Wow 76.102.70.174 aka Daly City, CA,

    I DO know how to use Twitter. According to the time codes on the conversation between LeDoctor and peprally, peprally corrected himself AFTER LeDoctor replied. LeDoctor never responded to the correction, only the initial question.

    I have 7 twitter accounts and have been using twitter for years. I also know that Frank Marshall has planned on leaving twitter if those fans don’t GET civilized.

    3:31PM: peprally to LeDoctor on heroes
    4:39PM: LeDoctor responds about heroes
    5:28PM: peprally corrects to protagonists


    …no response from LeDoctor

    Need I say more? I shouldn’t have had to spell it all out.

  5. To Specter says:

    I apologize. You are the twitmaster.

    Maybe you should tweet LeDoctor and tell him how to use the “block” button.

  6. Paul Martin Specter says:

    He knows how to do that. He commented:
    Tried that, but they kept switching account names. It's too bad when one person ruins it for everyone else.

  7. Ma says:

    whatever makes u sleep better at night…

    if u think all the flamers are teenagers on spring break… then u r sorely mistaken… i don't think u have any idea how pissed off highly educated asian americans like myself are…

    just because we don't act pretentious and pretend we are holier than thou… and we like to swear and curse… does not make our point less poignant… and make yours any better

    u think i'm hiding behind the internet? send me ur fone number… my e-mail is bamfbamfx@gmail.com.. i'll give u a call

    and u can tell me how it is ok to discriminate against a fellow american… and my future children… y this perpetual discrimination by hollywood is fine…

  8. Ma says:

    how it's easy for u to just push our concerns aside and continue living ur happy white life… coz u never get discriminated against… u dont have to worry about changing ur name to make it sound more white… or explain to people y u speak perfect english… or explain to someone that u're from california and have someone ask where u're REALLY from…

    come on… let's talk in person

    we're not asking for the world to change over night.. how about just some acknowledgement that a tremendous opportunity for asian americans and inuit or even native americans to play the heroes for once in our lives in a major american motion picture… based on a story that was clearly based on asian and inuit cultures…

    i bleed red, white and blue just like u… so y don't u just acknowledge that u can see why we feel the way we do… and why sometimes… things just suck and are not fair…

  9. Paul Martin Specter says:

    Ah, and you're the lovely person that flamed me for being NICE to Frank Marshall.. a man with 84 production credits to his name including 16 films that shaped my childhood.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Get out there and actually get involved in local theatre, try out for film roles that will get you a speaking part. Sometimes it's the smallest crack to break a dam, but it does happen.

  10. To Specter says:

    “I've said it before and I'll say it again: Get out there and actually get involved in local theatre, try out for film roles that will get you a speaking part. Sometimes it's the smallest crack to break a dam, but it does happen.”

    Easier said than done.
    The Last Airbender could have open the doors for so many struggling Asian-American and Native-American actors/actresses.
    Equal Opportunity used in a film as epic as The Last Airbender could have been a huge crack in the dam. Instead it sealed those cracks with quick-dry cement.

    Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz will never have to struggle to find a role in film. They didn't even have to audition for The Last Airbender and they got the part.

    It would have been so EPIC if Aang was Asian-American and Sokka and Katara were Native-Americans. Giving those kids' careers a chance to shine like the kids in Harry Potter would have been the perfect “change” for Hollywood.

  11. Paul Martin Specter says:

    You haven't seen Jackson Rathbone's audition tape? It's out there for the world to see. I can't remember how I saw it, though. Either on the forum or youtube or some older comments in some story here, though.

    Easier said than done? Yes. Impossible? No. Plus, look at the cast continue to grow, adding more and more Asians to the cast.

    Freakin' A, two of my favorite movies growing up were (and still are) The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II. Mr. Miyagi was a surrogate father to me in many ways.

    It would have been EPIC if Aang was Asian-American and Sokka and Katara were *Inuit* (read: not Native Americans, however I would have had no problem if they were cast with Native American actors). The simple fact is that they weren't, but there are about 15 LEADING roles in this series, if not more, including Toph.

  12. To Specter says:

    Native Americans are of Inuit descent.

    And I only say Native-Americans, so the kids who say, “The Avatar characters ARE white because the show was made in america so the characters should be american”
    would STFU.

  13. jedifreac says:

    Specter, I feel compelled to chime in. As one of the mods of the racebending website, I can assure you that we do not condone flaming or trolling of Frank Marshall. As a movement, we would like an opportunity for our concerns to be addressed in a respectful and productive dialogue. Advocacy organizations such as MANAA and East West Players have also indicated as much.

    Unfortunately, the people on racebending, MANAA, and East West Players are not the only ones upset by the casting, and we don't have control over the actions of others. We can only say that when people like bamfbamf attack Mr. Marshall, they do not speak for us. I have repeatedly told bamfbamf that by flaming Marshall, he is actually undermining our attempts to reach him and making things worse. I can't stop him from attacking you on this site, but I can urge you and your readers to understand that the pissy actions of one troll do not cancel out the legitimacy of our concerns.

  14. jedifreac says:

    We're all Avatar fans here and we are not idiots. We know that Aang, Katara, and Sokka are not the only heroes of the story. But for all intents and purposes–especially in Book One and the movie–they are the primary protagonists of the movie. It is hard to fit that into the word limit for Twitter.

    Even M. Night Shyamalan himself has acknowledged that the story is set in an Asian fantasy world, so what's troubling to us is that yes, while there were certainly more than three heroes in Avatar, ALL of those heroes were ethnically Asian (many Inuit/Yupik people live in northeast Asia), so saying that there more than 3 heroes is missing the point. It's Marshall trying ot correct the person asking the question, rather than answering their question.

    Given that, it is troubling to us that these ethnically East Asian and Inuit/Yupik characters were cast with white actors–a continuation of an outdated Hollywood practice used to discriminate against actors of color. This is a practice that Mako (the actor who voiced Uncle Iroh) spent his entire career fighting against. Avatar is a part of his legacy, and someone has to continue to ask the hard questions.

    There are serious casting problems NOW, and adding “color” in the future with other heroes like Toph doesn't change that.

  15. jedifreac says:

    “Freakin' A, two of my favorite movies growing up were (and still are) The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II. Mr. Miyagi was a surrogate father to me in many ways. ”

    Specter, I'd also be really careful abot using the character of Mr. Miyagi as an example of opportunities for Asian Americans in Hollywood.

    If you study the history of Asian Americans in cinema, you'll learn that Mr. Miyagi was the only type of Asian role in cinema an entire decade and beyond. Besides playing the “wise mentor” to a Caucasian lead, he too is an Asian stereotype and caricature. Hardly an example of equality in Hollywood casting.

    While it is not impossible for Asian American actors to break into Hollywood, there is definitely and undoubtedly a glass ceiling when it comes to the lead protagonist roles–”the three heroes” in this case. Unfortunately– especially with the language they used in the casting sides–THE LAST AIRBENDER is just another blip in a long history.

    By ignoring the glass ceiling the producers could have done something ethical and revolutionary. They did not, and as a fan and an Asian American, I am not alone in my disappointment.

  16. Dr Crowe says:

    Yea, I agree that the filmmakers here could have done something more special.

    I think they were trying to create a truly colorblind world. Whether or not this was the right film to use that method on is the question. The world established in series makes it a tough argument for it, but I still think it could be argued validly.

    I think it's a noble aspiration in general. Through the eyes of a 5 year old there really aren't races. I had no idea my best friend was Asian until I was older. I don't know if that sounds silly or not, but I think that's how a lot of kids view the world – those who are lucky enough to have a diverse group of friends.

  17. Paul Martin Specter says:

    Wow, Dr. Crowe..

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Wait until you see the article that I'm working on. I've been researching and discussing this casting with the creator of racebending, as well as reading up on things, and I'm usigin my own life experience as an example as well. I include a bit about how children don't see race until we introduce that concept. Until then, people are people with differences.

  18. jedifreac says:

    Dr. Crowe,

    While the idea of creating a post-racial utopia is certainly a noble one, I'm not sure that's what the filmmakers are intending to do, either. Their actions seem to indicate that they are still going to be segregating the nations by race—Fire Nation is South Asian/Persian/Maori, Earth Kingdom is Korean/Chinese/African, Water Tribe is white.

    And their requests for the cast certainly were NOT colorblind. They specifically asked for white actors for leads and people of color for extras.

    While a five year old may not understand the nuances of racial politics, I think there's still a base understanding of self and other, and representation. Remember the story about the doll in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye?

  19. dr crowe says:

    I don't see any evidence of them segregating the nations by race. Considering there are people of European, Indian, Polynesian, Persian and Asian decent cast in just the Fire Nation alone.

    Secondly, I think the casting calls for lead roles were specifically asking for people of all ethnicity.

    I don't know where you are getting this all from.

  20. lsammy says:

    Dr Crowe –

    “Secondly, I think the casting calls for lead roles were specifically asking for people of all ethnicity. ”

    You would be wrong. We have screencapped their casting sheets here:
    http://www.racebending.com/raceinavatar.php

    And you can follow the source link to see that we're not fabricating it. We don't NEED to fabricate anything that's been said/done wrong for this movie; it's all in plain sight. Unfortunately some people choose to be (colour)blind because they have that luxury.

  21. lsammy says:

    Specter –
    I'd warn you against taking words from my mouth and warping them to suit your needs. It's really lucky that you had a childhood where you didn't *have* too 'see' the colour of people's skin. Lucky you. I can tell that your experience is NOT everyone else's, particularly for children of colour.

    If you would like to know more, watch this:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1091431409617440489

    Read this:
    http://ciderpress.livejournal.com/209919.html

    And if you'd like to see the bigger picture, listen Part 3 of this:
    http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1226

    And read this:
    http://vejiicakes.livejournal.com/270375.html?style=mine

    Please make sure you learn EVERYTHING there is about this before you publicise anything.

    Please please read through our website racebending.com. There is so much information there and I'm not obliged to spoonfeed people in order to 'prove my points'. You should be capable of doing so yourself, if your interest really is that widespread.

    Bon chance and looking forward to reading your report.

  22. jedifreac says:

    Aside from the public casting announcements made (all the South Asian/Middle Eastern actors are Fire Nation, etc.), we have received information from several sources corroborating that the nations will be separated along those ethnic lines.

    Information on the casting calls for lead can be found: http://vejiicakes.livejournal.com/255699.html

    I ran this past an old friend who used to work for a casting agency and she said that it's nothing new, but the language they used is definitely coded to show a preference.

  23. @Dr Crowe says:

    I have seen the casting call sheets on http://aang-aint-white.livejournal.com/
    It said, “CAUCASIAN and other ethnicities”

    Although, Cliff Curtis is Maori
    he lands roles for Latino gangsters and Arab characters.
    Judging from the Fire Nation casting so far, it seems like they will be portrayed as
    “middle eastern”.
    Which Fire Nation character is European?

    Katara, Sokka, and GranGran are caucasian.
    And on the facebook group there is a photo of a caucasian extra wearing a water tribesman costume.

    Earth Kingdom seems to be Asian since the actor playing Haru's father is Asian.
    But, with 100 years worth of refugees, the Earth Kingdom can be many of the diverse cultures of Asia.
    Sadly in the second book, we find out The Earth Kingdom is run by a corrupt government.

    Air Nation all depends on Noah Ringer and whoever they cast for Gyatso and the other monks.

    Segregating the nations by race has been confirmed…
    Someone who attended the protest during a casting call talked to one of the guys in charge and they broke down the races of each nation. There was a discussion about it on the facebook group.

    Even a 5 year old can see that its as simple as “black and white”
    They may not understand it. But, they will be conditioned that heroes are always the light-skinned and the villains are the dark-skinned.
    But, we wouldn't be discussing any of this if they had just stuck to the source material.

  24. @Dr Crowe says:

    I wish it was simple as “colorblind casting” for the demographic of 5-year olds.
    But, its much deeper than that.
    It is a facet of the well documented and proven phenomena known as
    “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness” which is also the name of a book by George Lipsitz on how white people profit from identity politics.

  25. so... says:

    so “CAUCASIAN and other ethnicities” means white only? I'm confused.

  26. Paul Martin Specter says:

    “Specter –
    I'd warn you against taking words from my mouth and warping them to suit your needs.”

    What?

  27. lsammy says:

    “so “CAUCASIAN and other ethnicities” means white only? I'm confused.”

    Yes, that is correct. Please read The Language of Casting here:
    http://vejiicakes.livejournal.com/255699.html

    Several people in the film industry have confirmed that listing 'Caucasian' and then lumping everyone else into 'every other ethnicity' is coded language for agents. Agents see a casting call like that and then KNOWS it's unlikely that any other actor of colour (and there are oh, so very very many!) will get the role, since there is a preference for 'Caucasian'.

    It's a trick that production companies use to try and show that they *tried* to have an open casting call…but only white actors showed up for the audition. It covers their bases, essentially.

    And I'm sure you figured this part out already, but separating 'Caucasian' out from 'any other ethnicity' is essentially singling out that one particular group of actors, while lumping everyone else into 'any other'. Remember: Caucasian is not the default.

    Hope that clears any confusion!

  28. lsammy says:

    @ Specter

    Dude, I'm a little concerned that any abbreviated sentence fragments we've shared on Twitter will be misinterpreted, and I don't want that to happen to your writings or to our dialogue.

    If you want to talk with me, feel free to email or we can totally chat on gmail:
    info@racebending.com

    That way I can explain a lot of what I'm saying without having to character count to 140. ;D

    Thanks for understanding.

  29. lsammy says:

    @ Specter

    Also – sorry if I came off all angry!threatening. I've had convos before online where I thought a person and I were figuring stuff out through debate/discussion, and then it ended up being just a big joke offside for the person and their buddies.

    That experience triggered, hence my ZOMG NOOOOOOOOO!!! reaction. :D

  30. Paul Martin Specter says:

    Believe me.. I'm not planning on doing any such thing. It's going to be an opinion piece, but only my own opinions, so far. If I need any more information, I'll contact you.

  31. lsammy says:

    I believe you. Thanks for being so good about this.

  32. Paul Martin Specter says:

    No problem, dude. I'm just trying to be as neutral as possible on this whole issue at this point, so I can look at everything without judgement for or against one side or the other.

    It's a tough spot to write from as there are passionate words on both sides, but getting a birds-eye-view will provide, for me, a better snapshot of the bigger picture.

    I should say, though, that I am excited to see the movie. The only thing that I'm really worried about at this point is if they have captured the heart and spirit of the characters, now that casting is complete.

    Regardless, stranger things have happened in the film business. Frank Marshall produced Back to the Future, for instance. Look at who played Marty McFly when they originally shot the film.

  33. jedifreac says:

    And Specter, I just wanted to add–believe me, the mods of racebending and many of the posters are just as furious and frustrated with the flamers as trolls as you guys are here at mnightfans.

    Not only does it derail any chance of calm and rational discussion, it's simply inappropriate and wrong.

    No one deserves to be flamed the way the posts are flaming Frank Marshall, or the way you were sniped at. We are just as angry about this as you are.

  34. lsammy says:

    Yar, I can see the position you're in regarding the movie and subsequently, the fans of the show. I really REALLY wish I was excited to see it too. I really do. I was, once upon a time when I first found out Shyamalan was directing; I was soooo excited. :(

    And even moreso, it's been wonderful to talk to so many people and see/read about eyes widening and jaws dropping in disbelief when they see how The Last Airbender was handled. Spreading awareness has been a rewarding experience.

    Also, reading the Washington Post article. That was kinda…totally awesome. XD

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