Let me address this first. I am in no way upset over the fact that He-Man/Prince Adam dosen’t appear as the main character in the lastest Netflix series Masters of the Universe: Revelation. I’m not like many of the other dudebros in their 30s-40s upset that a TV cartoon based on a toy chain explores other realms of the characters.
This blog contains spoilers but if you’ve had any access to the Internet over the last 48 hours, you already know the spoilers in this series. In the first episode of a five-part series, He-Man and Skeletor both die. And it’s revealed to anyone so far who didn’t know that He-Man and Prince Adam were the same.
So, the series mostly focuses on the other characters, mainly Teela (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) years after the death and her banishment by King Randor. This quite a bold attempt by Netflix and showrunner Kevin Smith to take the series above and beyond its very cartoonish origins. Like most cartoons from the late 1970s and 1980s, there was an extreme emphasis placed on reducing cartoon violence. That’s why Tom and Jerry became friends and even though G.I. Joe and Cobra were battling, they mainly were able to all to survive and jumping from exploding machines with no damage or bodily harm.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was no different as it mostly portrayed He-Man pushes other characters off or away from him. An urban legend has persisted for years the toy line was created after Mattel had agreed to produce action figures to tie in with the very much R-rated Conan the Barbarian, which contain graphic violence, gore, nudity and sexual content. Upset, Mattel created to a similar muscular sword wielding character.
That didn’t happen. There’s an episode of The Toys That Made Us that explains this, so I won’t get into it.
For the most part, this series does explore some more mature issues with the characters, but the $64,000 question is, is it necessary? Not really.
It’s been almost 40 years since the toys, comics and TV cartoon series hit middle America. And it seems everyone was obsessed with making TV shows and movies more gritty that it spawned that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers parody as well as countless other parodies.
I guess when you live in a world where The Banana Splits kids TV show can be turned into a metafiction horror movie, why can’t people just leave well enough alone.
The 1980s series was loaded with a lot of cartoonish elements and characters, such as Orko, who seemed to function more as comic relief than anything else. And with most 1980s cartoons, the episodes ended with the characters presenting the audience with a learning lesson.
Gone are the learning lessons, thankfully. And the animation does look sleaker and more realistic rather than how Filmation often repeated animation cells for production expenses. One thing, I will credit the series with, is portraying Prince Adam as an average size young man in contrast to the hulky muscle He-Man which is why no one could tell the two apart.
That being said, Prince Adam when he’s shown comes across more as a cocky young 20-something brat. And Orko is reduced to a weak character who utters his words as if he’s trying to stay alive. Yes, they went there with Orko. But there is a revelation that Orko’s name was because he was originally called “Oracle” but couldn’t say his name right. This adds some depth to the character, but should he have it?
I’m kinda reminded of what Spike Jones did with Where The Wild Things Are where the characters who seem so fun in the book came off as depressed and angry creatures. This also begs the question as to why so many characters nowadays have to be depressed and sad in movies and TV shows.
This brings me to Teela and her portrayal. She was always a strong character in the original series. Why does she need the absence of Prince Adam/He-Man to search for her strength. And it’s implied that Teela is a lesbian.
I feel that Smith is trying to apologize with criticism over the years on how he handled Chasing Amy, even though when it was released in 1997, it was very provocative and progressive.
With a nice voice cast that includes Mark Hamill, Dennis Haysbert, Lena Headley, Henry Rollins, Justin Long and Alan Oppenheimer, among others, it should’ve been better than this. Even at five episodes that run about half an hour, it feels like it could’ve been condensed into three episodes.
And what we see really is more like the beginning of a story which adds to the frustration. There are five more episodes planned to air and hopefully they clear up a few things. However, this seems like a promo for a better series. I’m not going to criticize it for the same old reasons others have online.
This series just needed better storylines and better dialogue. And saying that things will get better in the second part is a cop out. Every episode of a series should pop and make you interested.
If Netflix was trying to introduce MOTU to a younger generation, it failed. Making the series more adult-oriented was also a failure.