Dev Patels Opens Up About ‘The Last Airbender’ — ‘One of the Worst Movies’

Netflix struck gold when it added Avatar: The Last Airbender to its lengthy lineup of items to watch. Fans of the show flocked to the streamer to rewatch the classic show in its entirety, with the show gaining new fans along the way.

The series was such a success for Netflix that the streamer decided to invest in a live-action remake of the same despite the earlier attempts by others failing. Actor Dev Patel seems to agree that The Last Airbender wasn’t the best thing out there, calling it “one of the worst movies.”

Dev Patel wearing a brown suit with a brown shirt in front of a white and blue background.
Dave Patel | Getty Images

The premise of ‘The Last Airbender’

After a century of the Fire Nation declaring war on the other nations, Water, Air, and Earth, two siblings of the Southern Water Tribe, Sokka, and Katara, come across an unusual iceberg. When they break the iceberg, a 12-year-old boy named Aang rises alongside his flying bison Appa.

Zuko of the Fire Nation senses the resurgence of Aang and arrives at the Southern Water Tribe, demanding the villagers give up ‘The Avatar.’ Zuko is aware of Aang’s bending capabilities as the Avatar is the only one who can manipulate all four elements.

Aang sacrifices himself for the village but escapes capture. He later learns that he was frozen in ice and is told of the Fire Nation’s damage to the Air Nomads. He and his friends arrive at a village controlled by the Fire Nation, and when they get arrested, they lead a rebellion and successfully take back the village from the Fire Nation.

Aang reveals he doesn’t know other bending techniques save for air bending. The group travels to the Northern Water Tribe to help Aang learn from water bending masters. Commander Zhao interrupts their trip by capturing Aang, who Zuko rescues. After trying and failing to kill Zuko, Zhao kills the Moon Spirit to eliminate all the waterbenders, but Princess Yue sacrifices herself for the Moon Spirit.

The waterbenders drown Zhao while Aang drives back the Fire Nation by making a gigantic wall in the ocean in his Avatar state. The Fire Lord is told of the defeat and sends his daughter Azula to prevent Aang from mastering the remaining elements, fire, and earth.

Dev Patel played Prince Zuko in the film

Patel auditioned to play Zuko before his hit show, Slumdog Millionaire, got released. The Last Airbender’s creator, M. Night Shyamalan, called the actor to inform him that he had snagged the role. Patel joined the production in 2009 after Jesse McCartney had to back out due to conflicting schedule dates.

McCartney’s tour dates conflicted with the martial arts training boot camp The Last Airbender cast were supposed to undertake. He, however, claimed that the producers replaced him for other reasons before filming, and he had no say in the matter.

Patel’s character Zuko is portrayed as a son who desperately wants his father’s love and approval. He is willing to cross many lines to achieve that, including committing a sacrilege by killing the Moon Spirit. Shaun Toub, who played Iroh in the film, described Patel’s character as someone who isn’t “necessarily bad,” saying that the character has lots of pent-up anger that he forgets to consider those around him.

Patel called ‘The Last Airbender’ “one of the worst movies ever”

The Last Airbender received criticism for its predominantly white cast and digression from the original Avatar: The Last Airbender. Critics tore it up with some calling it dull and flat, and Patel agrees.

According to People Magazine, Patel thought The Last Airbender was “one of the worst movies I’ve ever done.” Without referencing the film directly, he said, “I shouldn’t even bring it up but do a quick IMDb search, and you’ll know what it is.”

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