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Avatar: The Last Airbender Actor Defends A Big Netflix Change After Fan Backlash

Netflix's live-action adaptation of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is in hot water on account of several controversial narrative shifts from the original series. Some of the more fervent discussions have to do with a huge change to Sokka (Ian Ousley).

Before the adaptation's release, Katara actor Kiawentiio made headlines when she revealed to Entertainment Weekly that the remake would remove Sokka's sexist attitude due to the team considering it questionable in modern times. Fans pushed back against the decision, with many arguing that Sokka's growth and unlearning of gender roles is a crucial part of his character arc.

Amid the heated opinions, Ousley has come out in defense of the Netflix show's handling of the matter. "Obviously we took out that element, but he still has that attitude," he explained in an interview with GamesRadar+. "Not a sexist attitude, but it's morphed into more of – in Sokka and Katara's relationship – 'I'm the leader and you're the follower' situation. Stuff like that."

Ian Ousley argues that Sokka is still Sokka

While Ian Ousley acknowledged the changes to Sokka on Netflix's "Avatar: The Last Airbender," it seems he's confident that his portrayal is true to the character's core progression on the original animated series. "He's still the Sokka we know and love from the cartoon," he told GamesRadar+. "I don't even think fans would notice some of those things, honestly, [when] watching our show ... He definitely still has his arcs and his lessons in the show."

Of course, this is just one of many shifts that the live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" makes from the source material. Other changes, such as the depiction of the Fire Nation's genocide of the Air Nomads or the characterization of Gran Gran (Casey Camp-Horinek), have also been criticized by fans. Many have been quick to note that the creators of the original "Avatar: The Last Airbender" left the live-action project years prior, citing creative differences with Netflix. For several viewers, it seems the impression the live-action show leaves is that of a remake ultimately at odds with the material it's trying to adapt.

Despite this perceived disconnect between the original "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and Netflix's fresh iteration, the latter's cast and crew have stated on multiple occasions that they hold the former in high regard. "The animated show really is the heart and soul of what our live-action show is," Ousley said. "We were not trying to take out anything."