Kevin Smith Made Netflix’s ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’ Specifically to Please ‘He-Man’ Fans. Some Got Mad Anyway.

Kevin Smith Made Netflix’s ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’ Specifically to Please ‘He-Man’ Fans. Some Got Mad Anyway.

7/24/2021 9:24:00 PM

Kevin Smith Made Netflix’s ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’ Specifically to Please ‘He-Man’ Fans. Some Got Mad Anyway.

SPOILER WARNING: Do not read if you’ve not seen the first five episodes of “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” streaming now on Netflix. Kevin Smith nearly turned down “H…

notgiven fans the thing they grew up watching — namely, he had not given them He-Man.By any reasonable measure, Smith, David and the rest of the creative team were successful in achieving what they set out to do: Make a series that looks and feels like a sophisticated, adult continuation of the “He-Man” animated series from the 1980s. Beloved sci-fi composer Bear McCreary (“Battlestar Galactica,” “The Walking Dead”) wrote a sweeping score that takes the story seriously. Several locations from the original show are smartly utilized, and nearly two dozen characters (Trap Jaw! Tri-Klops! Stinkor!) make memorable appearances. The animation, led by directors Patrick Stannard and Adam Conarroe (Netflix’s “Castlevania”), pays loving attention to the design aesthetic of the original — characters drive vehicles that evoke the tie-in He-Man toy line — while upgrading it for an adult eye and sensibility. One example: While He-Man and his alter ego Prince Adam are still voiced by the same actor (this time by “Supergirl’s” Chris Wood), Adam is now a scrawnier, more normal looking young man, instead of a hulking Adonis who looks exactly like He-Man in regular clothing.

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In the first episode, however, Smith, David and the rest of the creative team made a bold creative decision: He-Man (seemingly) dies, as does Skeletor (voiced by Mark Hamill), the result of a cataclysmic battle that also leaves Eternia devoid of all magic. While He-Man appears in flashbacks, for the rest of the first half of the season, he’s missing in action from the main story.

Instead, He-Man’s friends and even some of his enemies have to figure out how to bring magic back to Eternia, and save all of existence in doing so. In this quest, they’re led, reluctantly, by He-Man’s former loyal compatriot, Teela (voiced by) — who still feels devastated and betrayed as the only one in He-Man’s inner-circle who never knew he was also Prince Adam. headtopics.com

In speaking withVarietyabout these choices, it’s clear that the creators and cast of “Revelation” only ever wanted to please fans of the show by getting to do the things the original never could: real stakes and real consequences, with nuanced characters imbued with genuine pathos and psychological maturity. But it’s also clear that “Revelation” is a textbook case of the precarious tightrope walk of trying to please fans of a legacy franchise while also trying to avoid merely regurgitating what came before. Especially given that the world of extremely online fandoms — almost always exclusively driven by men — have not responded well when a property previously led by a man suddenly has a woman at its center instead.

Orko (Griffin Newman), Andra (Tiffany Smith), Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Roboto (Justin Long) and Evil-Lyn (Lena Headey) in “Masters of the Universe: Revelation.”Courtesy of NetflixAfter Wood won the role of He-Man — “I went for it, just screaming, ‘I have the power’ in our closet, hoping that my family wasn’t thinking I was losing it,” he said with a laugh — discovering in the very first script that his character appears to die was, indeed, a shock.

“I read it and I was like, ‘Wait, is that…? Is that how this happens?'” he said. “‘Is this…is there more?'”As anyone who has seen all five episodes of “Revelation” knows, there was more for Wood to do, especially in Episode 5, since neither Skeletor nor Prince Adam really

dieddied. But David’s initial pitch to Smith kept Adam alive the entire time. In the midst of a massive battle at Castle Greyskull, Skeletor breaks the vessel containing all magic on Eternia, and He-Man is forced to split the Sword of Power in two in order to contain the ensuing explosion. In David’s version, Adam survived; robbed of his ability to become He-Man, he spends the rest of the series figuring out how to build himself back up to his former glory. headtopics.com

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“Kevin thought that was terrific,” said David. “And then he one-upped me and said, ‘What if we don’t just break the Sword of Power? What if we actually break Adam, too? What if he dies, when we flash forward a few years we really get to explore that — also what is it like for a world without He-Man?'”

In breaking the story for “Revelation,” Smith said David pulled out “books of lore” for He-Man and Eternia created by Mattel over the decades since the toy was first created. Between David’s commitment to the history of He-Man, and Biaselli’s bone-deep love for the original show, Smith felt like he had guard-rails keeping him from going too far afield. Besides, his mandate was to make a He-Man show where characters could actually die; what better way to make that clear than killing the show’s main hero and villain from the jump?

“All we have to do is not disavow anything,” Smith said. “Nobody’s saying, ‘Hey, man, everything you knew about He-Man was wrong.’ It’s like, no, everything you knew was absolutely right. And now, this is what happened when they finally had their epic battle — and what happened after that.”

“Even though this is a love letter to the 1980s version of ‘Masters of Universe,’ we didn’t want to rest on that,” added David. “In order for something to be alive, it’s got to have the capacity to surprise you. It has to have the capacity to grow.”Once Wood understood the approach, he loved it. “It was jarring, but in a really amazing way, you know, because Skeletor and He-Man, there was no real urgency or life or death stakes to their battles [in the original],” he said. headtopics.com

With He-Man’s death locked in, Smith looked at the characters who were left in Eternia who could drive the story for the next four episodes. One jumped the to the fore.“Teela I was particularly interested in because she’s been fucking lied to her entire life,” Smith said. “And that, to me, was drama.”

In Episode 2, Teela is working as a mercenary for hire, and her disillusionment with He-Man and alienation from magic work as a kind of allegory for the cynicism of adulthood overshadowing the wonders of childhood. She was the perfect vehicle for what “Revelation” was trying to do: Strip away everything the heroes cared about to get at the heart of who they really are, and what makes them heroic.

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“My favorite movies are ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘The Wrath of Khan,'” said David. “The hero gets really hit hard, and then the story becomes about how the hero gets back up again and better and stronger than ever. In basically stripping away all the comforts the hero took for granted, the hero reveals to him or herself what truly makes them strong inside and then have to rebuild.”

“We thought by having an unexpected character go on that journey in real time with the audience,” he continued, “we would be able to really hit just how important He-Man is, and just how important those themes are.”"You really fucking think Mattel Television, who hired me and paid me money, wants to do a fucking 'Masters of the Universe' show

withoutHe-Man? Grow the fuck up, man."Kevin SmithWhen Gellar was first approached about playing Teela, however, she wasn’t sure she wanted it.“I thought it’d be a very small role at first, because just looking at ‘He-Man,’ I didn’t even really necessarily remember her,” she said. “I mean, maybe vaguely. And then I started reading [the scripts], and I was like, ‘Oh, she’s the show! OK, this is new.'”

In truth, Gellar didn’t pay very much attention to the original “He-Man” for the simple reason that the entire world was telling her the show was only for boys.“I think what’s interesting about the original incarnation was it was very gender specific,” she said. “There wasn’t something for me; there wasn’t a character that I saw myself in. And I think that sort of then you realize it’s not about gender, right? It’s not necessarily boy/girl, but it’s about seeing yourself in someone in it,” Gellar said. “What’s so wonderful about what they did [with ‘Revelation’] is not only do I see myself in a lot of these female characters, but I also see myself for the first time in He-Man and Skeletor. They’re much closer to characters that I think that we can understand and feel like we have something in common with. Not that I like to think I have too much in common with Skeletor.”

It was that opportunity to humanize and complicate established characters that Smith was most excited about, especially since it gave him a chance to put into practice a decade’s worth of personal observations of the most successful attempt at fan service in Hollywood history: The Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I know how to Marvel-ize this shit,” Smith said. “They re-served me my childhood with fresh recipes, and I get to eat the same meals that made me happy as a kid all over again. But it’s a trick. I’ve been studying Kevin Feige like crazy for 10 years. They give you something that you feel like looks like your childhood. But when you go back and compare it to your childhood, it’s way better. And that’s what we did here.”

Some fans, though, just want their childhood again. Smith spoke withVarietyweeks before “Revelation’s” debut, but his sensitivity to fan reactions meant he was closely monitoring Twitter for how people were talking about the various trailers for “Revelation.” So he’d already picked up on discontent with the understanding that Teela was going to be a far more important character on his show.

“I know there’s some people that are like, ‘Hey, man, this show’s woke,'” he said. “I’m like, all right, great, then so was the original cartoon we’re fucking sequel-izing. Go watch it again. There are girls in every episode. Deal with it.”Never one to mince his words, Smith couldn’t hide his frustration with fans taking issue with a show that, at that point, they hadn’t seen yet.

“It’s been interesting, seeing who truly is a hardcore fan,” he said. “Because anybody that’s like, ‘Oh, man, there’s not enough He-Man’ or something like that, doesn’t understand the show that we based it on. There were episodes where he lost the sword and he never became He-Man. It wasn’t like He-Man always saved the day. His friends helped him. That was the fucking point of the show.”

Skeletor (Mark Hamill) and He-Man (Chris Wood) in “Masters of the Universe: Revelation.”Courtesy of NetflixNow that the show has premiered, there is no denying that He-Man isn’t around all that much, but some of the backlash could also be a misread of the final moments of the first half of the series, which hinges on a massive cliffhanger. In their quest to unify the Sword of Power to bring magic back to Eternia, Teela and her friends discover Prince Adam is alive in Preternia, a kind of edenic afterlife for Eternia’s fallen heroes. In a moment of selflessness, knowing that he can never return to Preternia again, Adam decides follow his friends back to Castle Greyskull.

But once they do, and use the reunified Sword of Power to return magic to Greyskull, Skeletor also emerges, and literally impales Adam in the back before he can become He-Man again. Then Skeletor takes the Sword of Power, raises it to the sky, and becomes Skele-God, a Master of the Universe — end of episode.

It could be easy to assume that Skeletor has killed Prince Adam. But he did not.“Adam’s not dead; he’s very wounded,” said Wood. “If you want to light the whole world on fire, in terms of destroying a fandom, you’d take He-Man out and be like, ‘That’s it, he’s gone, bye!’ Now what they’ve done is they’ve found really interesting ways to turn the dynamics of the show on its head and raise the stakes to a point that the original never saw.”

Smith was blunter.“I see people online go, ‘Hey man, they’re getting rid of He-Man!'” he said. “Like, you really fucking think Mattel Television, who hired me and paid me money, wants to do a fucking ‘Masters of the Universe’ showwithoutHe-Man? Grow the fuck up, man. Like, that blew my mind, bunch of people being like, ‘Oh, I smell it. This is a bait and switch.'”

Part 2 of “Revelation” — which will premiere likely later this year or early next year — will actually explore David’s original pitch, with Prince Adam the one who has to recover from an almost debilitating blow.“A lot of Part 2 is a world in which Skeletor has the power — then we get to say, ‘Well, what made Adam special?'” David said. “‘What does it mean to have the power? What made Adam the person who was most worthy to be He-Man?’ I will tell you this: Adam’s story is not done and will never be done. Not saying what happens to him, but I’m just saying the stories continues.”

Wood said he has seen very rough versions of Part 2, and his face lit up when describing them. To anyone who might be upset or frustrated with the end of Part 1, he had this advice: “I would say keep keep watching, with the biggest wink that an audio-only interview can give. In a world that’s filled with magic and supernatural powers, anything is possible.”

Even, perhaps, conquering angry fans. Read more: Variety »

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Teela, was Captain of the Guard in 1980s. LEADING Eternia's Army. The Queen, a woman, had to SAVE Eternia from Skeletor once. Not He-man. But the Rage Retailers won't show you this narrative. They need to sell: AntiFeminisn, NonSexyBodies, AntiDiveristy, ETC. Its their 'brand' Look at this Youtube channel of 7 years. DEAD. NO VIEWS. Makes ONE MOU Kevin Smith video during trending & riding the hate wave of the cultists. Nearly 300k VIEWS! And that's how they all did it 3 yrs ago. Why change your brand when 🤥💩🤬🤮sells?

You can make really good money doing this over and over and over and over again. Most media forms can make their pint with ONE article. But when you make $330/video. And your audience can't get enough bashing in. Sell the🤥Sell the🤬. Swap out 'bad stories' for your 'bigotry'. I thought the reboot was pretty good. Great animation and way better storylines than the 80s. He-Man used to have an iron cross on his sheath, now it's an H. Is the iron cross cancelled now?

Since you 'forgot' to add this bit of important information. Here you go. Journalism Weird being mad at what is essentially half a story arc where nothing is resolved yet. Can’t believe actual adults just want the same tabling fed to them for the rest of their lives You know our big source movie makers are all out of fresh ideas when they start rebooting and remaking classics...

STOP! LYING! Kevin Smith lied to, harassed, and belittled the fans 'made this specifically for.' People were bullied by journalists over it. All of his actions are on the internet for everyone to read. You can't keep gaslighting the audience forever.

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Look I get that you need to shill to get access like all the access media websites, however when He-man is removed in the first episode and there are no other strong male characters in the show exactly how is it “made for fans”? Try not to be so blatant with the shilling ...they perverted expectations...?

What a waste. Why didn’t they just reboot She-Ra, the popular female MOTU tv show? why didnt you include the old kevin smith tweet that shows this is a bait and switch I used to watch that when I was a kid. One of my favourite characters was He - Man’s battle cat Well this is exciting!! Mystery box Bullshit again.

Shill army reporting for duty

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SOME got mad anyway? Killed him in Episode 1. Killed him in Episode 5. Wasn't present in Episode 2,3, & 4. You're actually surprised? I got through the first episode of HeMan - barely through the second, no real interest in the rest of the series. Has nothing to do with representation for me, it's about a show called HeMan without HeMan after the first episode. No thanks.

Yes it did. With false advertising What ? it was bad. like it was made to please those 15 woke fools. who want representation in everything. Transformers The Movie is remembered fondly as one of the Best Transformers things out there. This could be that, but He-Man does have to live. Surprise it did twice

Looks like to me Hollywood has gotten it's talons into the once great ThatKevinSmith You failed Kevin big time!! I’m only here to read the replies of a bunch of offended 30-40 year old dudes, most of whom couldn’t be bothered to watch the series.

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ThatKevinSmith really son, really. Your not a fan and don’t ever tell the people who will cancel netflix subscriptions over this to grow the fuck up. I’m an original fan from the beginning this is not what we wanted grow the fuck up and apologise. I don't know what drivel your peddling Variety but your way off. Kevin bragged about killing off the lead character twice. He-Man was used to promote the show and teela was turned into a Narcissistic moody emo character completely self-absorbed all about my feelings it's so

Watched a little of mastersoftheuniverserevelation last night. It was entertaining but I was expecting more ThatKevinSmith-esque dialogue. Maybe that comes later..? This is at least the fourth time you guys have tweeted about this today. Is nothing else going on? Does anyone know why they scrapped the original theme song completely? Seems like that alone would have given the 8 year old in all of us a sufficient amount of nostalgic chills.

TheHeManMovie I love this series I cried in few episodes So… how much did they pay Variety to say this? Kinda glossing over the fact that every MOTU fan I see here is insulted & disappointed as F with what Kevin Smith did. I love how people trying like hell to support anything with this ubiquitous narrative, always resort to name calling. It's sexist fans and emotionally stunted boys etc. When the Producer is quoted as being overtly racist and sexist toward the main character of the property.

The ones that got mad are just mouthbreathers anyway. Nothing of value was lost. Im a hige heman fan and thought it was pretty sweet..yes more heman coulda been in there but still awesome to see

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Killing he-man twice in 5 episodes to please he-man fans? Makes sense. I’m so dumb I thought he done it to please the woke social justice crowd. Shill media bought and paid for by Netflix doing what they do best. Appease their masters I’m not mad at that guy. I’m mad at Netflix. Listen, trailer sold He-Man over Teela. If Teela was going to be the lead, I’m okay with it. But why put He-Man on every single frame when that not what you’re selling. I was going to cancel Netflix anyway.

No he didn’t. Most of the people who like it are gay men. Kevin Smith es un pelotudo What a Lie Variety- as a life Long He-Man Fan I can say he did it to spite me- he Hate-Watched the show as a teen & was not a Fan & should never have been put in charge of it. Watched the first 2 episodes last night. I loved what I saw so far. Saw the Masters of the Universe movie from the 80's again recently. This series and that movie each have their own special magic. The spirit of the original cartoon is in both.

Jealousy. GeekShow jacksboytweet I'm a bit confused who this was made for. It does assume a lot of knowledge in that first episode. But the script is full of cheap puns and cliche action lines. And they did market He-man in the trailer hard. I get Teela is main for this, but I don't understand her anger in Ep 1.

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😂😂 lies TheHeManMovie I liked it. But if you’re more a fan of the character he-man over the overall show I can see why those people would be disappointed TheHeManMovie I’m not mad I’m just disappointed. If he made this to please He-Man fans then it should’ve centered around heman. I don’t care if you call me sexist or not. It was okay, far better than the she-ra cartoon, but still wanted he-man.

Now let's talk about this piece of dialogue 'legends stories and magic are just lies I prefer something more tangible' Is this the part that's supposed to make he man fans happy . 🤣 The most ironic thing is to me that Evil Lynn is more likable than teela . Teela is the spoilt brat that gets everything handed to her who is angry her presents was a surprise 🤣

Froze he man out the story because he wanted to please he man fans ok Adam whatever you say it's a really good piece of work in my opinion it's ashame he had to pretend it was about he man rather than about teela to trick people into watching TheHeManMovie Most of the same people bitched about the first wave minicomics, live action movie, New Adventures, 200x, the DC comics, Netflix She-Ra and even the cardback bios from the Classics figures. They are very loud babies that hate any change from a franchise that has changed nonstop.

I'm just mad that 'He-Man' was really only in 1 damn episode so far... Then Adam is back, just for Skeletor too.... UGH! Not to mention Orko (NO SPOILERS as to why or how or what) I'm just like damn it MAN! 😭😭😭😭

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