For a model as beloved as Masters of the Universe, the franchise certain appears to have fallen on powerful instances these days. He-Man himself hasn’t had an animated sequence of his personal since a superb 2002 reboot stalled after two seasons. There have been countless makes an attempt to get a brand new live-action film out of the gate during the last decade or extra. And ol’ Prince Adam has been upstaged by his twin sister Adora, lately the topic of Netflix’s wonderful She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, arguably the perfect adaptation of components of the MoTU world to ever hit the display.
She-Ra prided itself on subverting expectations, from the character designs and animation model to its studied unwillingness to trip on He-Man’s coattails and its wonderful commitment to representation and diversity. Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation, however, has the acknowledged objective of being a direct sequel to the unique animated sequence, Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and each that mission assertion and the devoted character designs make it clear this new sequence has old skool followers in thoughts.
It’s all coming from a spot of affection for the franchise and experience in its sophisticated historical past. Sequence creator and govt producer Kevin Smith lately instructed Den of Geek about his personal experiences with the world of He-Man and the MoTU franchise rising up.
“After I was watching [the original series] I used to be about 11 or 12 years outdated,” Smith remembers. “I’d been an enormous Star Wars fan… [but] my interactivity with Masters of the Universe wasn’t the toys as a lot because it was the cartoon, which I watched actually each episode of. I used to be born in 1970, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was on within the early ’80s. We barely had cable TV. So that you didn’t have a plethora of decisions. After college I’d come residence and this was on and perhaps I used to be just a little bit older than I ought to have been for having fun with that present, however I cherished animation. It didn’t matter. I nonetheless watched Saturday morning cartoons at that age. I nonetheless watched Tremendous Buddies. So for me it wasn’t off-brand to be sitting there and having fun with this cartoon.”
In fact, that outdated Filmation sequence was aimed on the youngest of viewers, and it hasn’t aged significantly nicely even when seen with essentially the most nostalgic of eyes. Which makes the truth that Masters of the Universe: Revelation is so nice a exceptional achievement.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation picks up shortly after (it’s by no means specified) the conclusion of that unique cartoon sequence. In fact, continuity (or logic) have been by no means a lot of a priority there, so if the fundamentals of the He-Man legend (planet Eternia, magic and excessive know-how coexist, Prince Adam is secretly He-Man, evil Skeletor with cool wanting henchmen, and so forth) all the things you have to know from the primary second.
However whereas this may increasingly certainly be a sequel to that unique sequence, it’s extra of a non secular sequel to the whole lot of MoTU lore, one thing evident from the opening credit, which pay tribute to not the outdated cartoon however slightly the luxurious painted paintings that adorned traditional Masters of the Universe toy packaging. Positive, each character you’d anticipate from the outdated present is right here (plus some surprises) however so are numerous different characters from the toys, automobiles, constructions…and deep cuts you would possibly by no means anticipate.
Curiously, Smith didn’t have a lot expertise with the toys themselves.
“It was simply bizarre to not be capable to work together with [the franchise] like everyone else [as a child], as a result of it was made to promote toys,” he says. “And that was the one impact that it wasn’t going to have on me, based mostly on my funds. We weren’t a wealthy household by any stretch of the creativeness. So to have the ability to, years later, develop up after which ‘play with the toys’ so to talk, making this present felt tremendous particular. In a world the place I didn’t get to play with them as a child, it was price it to attend for this lengthy.”
Whereas primarily often called an indie movie director with a penchant for comedy, Smith has a historical past of mixing the perfect components of sophisticated mythologies collectively when he performs in different sandboxes, nodding to totally different components of continuity, dropping obscure Easter eggs for severe followers, whereas telling simply accessible tales. His comedian e-book runs on Daredevil and Inexperienced Arrow helped redefine these characters and place them for the A-list standing they later achieved, and his notorious however better-than-you’ve-heard, unfilmed Superman Lives screenplay from the late Nineteen Nineties hinted at components of a wider DC Universe, lengthy earlier than that form of factor was modern.
With such touchpoints in thoughts, Masters of the Universe: Revelation seems like Smith’s final fan achievement: paying tribute to a sophisticated and weird mythology in a manner that also feels welcoming to new audiences. In actual fact, it was these Daredevil and Green Arrow runs that Smith says introduced him to the eye of Mattel’s Vice President of Content material/Artistic, Rob David. Smith remembers that David instructed him they have been hoping to make one thing “for all of the followers who grew up with it, who the present meant one thing to, who know each element about it.”
For a lifelong fan like Smith, paying tribute to the unique sequence was an “intriguing” prospect, extra so than doing an entire reinvention like Netflix had achieved with She-Ra. This led him to conversations with one other lifelong He-Man fan, Netflix’s Director of Unique Programming, Ted Biaselli.
Smith describes Biaselli as “the key sauce in all of this.” It was Biaselli who insisted that the characters and ideas be taken significantly. “Deal with it like Shakespeare,” Smith remembers being instructed.
Whereas which will sound bold, and even ridiculous once we’re speaking a few franchise with characters named Battle Cat, Roboto, and Mer-Man, Masters of the Universe: Revelation actually goes for it, and has a voice forged that’s as much as the duty. The beats and pacing of the story, have been these six episodes maybe toned down for live-action, would really feel completely at residence with the pacing of a status cable drama. Chris Wooden and Sarah Michelle Gellar are each great as He-Man/Prince Adam and Teela, and Mark Hamill as Skeletor is a kind of castings that it’s arduous to imagine no one considered sooner. However after they’re joined by the likes of two completely forged Game of Thrones veterans (Liam Cunningham as Man-at-Arms and an virtually impossibly good Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn) you’re in for a fair larger deal with. Maintain an ear out for Henry Rollins, too.
To name Masters of the Universe: Revelation a “sequel to the unique sequence” is the truth is one thing of a disservice. One of the simplest ways to explain it’s a sequence that blends the entire disparate components of the He-Man legend from the toys to the comics to the cartoons, takes them as significantly as one can probably take them with out resorting to adolescent grimdark pretensions (hmmm…Grimdark appears like an ideal MoTU villain now that I give it some thought), and tells a serialized story that’s each an ideal introduction for brand new followers and feels just like the present has “grown up” with its unique viewers.
That’s one thing of a revelation in itself.
We’ll have extra from Kevin Smith about Masters of the Universe: Revelation within the coming days!
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