If the reader reactions to our “Last Airbender” review are any indication, there are a lot of very unhappy “Airbender” fans right now. People who have seen the TV show, real fans if you will, who are not very happy with M. Night Shyamalan’s take on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. Besides the movie’s general lack of awesome, there was also something very noticeably wrong with the film: the movie has, for some reason, changed the pronunciation of the lead character’s name. “Aang” (pronounced pretty much the way it looks, with strong accents on the “a” and “n”, and rhymes with “bang”) had somehow become … “Ahng”, with emphasis on the “Ah”, and rhymes with “hung”.
According to Shyamalan, he did this on purpose. The director tells IndiesMoviesOnline:
And I fought like crazy to have the pronunciation of the names to go back to the Asian pronunciation. So you say “Ahng” instead of “Aaang” because it’s correct. It’s not “I-rack,” it’s “ee-Rock.” I’m literally fighting for all this.
So yes, the actors didn’t start pronouncing Aang’s name “Ahng” because they wanted to, they were directed to do so by M. Night. It seems odd that Shyamalan would go to such great efforts to, from what he’s saying above, change up the pronunciation because he thinks this is how it should be pronounced rather than how the show did it. Ego much?
In any case, here’s what some fans thought of the movie (hint: they think it sucks donkey balls). Ironically, the only fan who liked the movie was the one who wasn’t a fan of the cartoon. A “Twi-hard”, in fact. Go figure.
So I hunted around YouTube, and here’s a scene from the original cartoon that has a pronunciation of Aang’s name. At the 25-second mark Katara mentions Aang’s name, and yup, she pronounces it “Aaang” instead of “Ahng”.