Like most kids of the 80s I was completely sucked in and consumed by the marketing vortex that was He-man and the Masters of the Universe. Now I’m a little older and a little wiser I can appreciate what a dim kid I was, and how fortunate it was for Mattel were that there was only three TV channels. The show is barely watchable these days with its budget animation, corny humour and new action figure of the week format. What does endure for me however is how darn cool the concept is – our hero rides a giant cat and also has a tank that shoots lasers and fights a skeleton who is master of the dark arts and the skeleton has a henchman who is half crab and half man and another one who has two heads and our hero has a bee man on his team and a robot! I love the anything goes nature of the toyline with its mix of sci-fi and fantasy. If you are interested in the history of how this all came to be I recommend the excellent Netflix show The Toys That Made Us.
Since 2007 there has been talk of a He-man movie. There was one back in 1987, made to the high low-budget standards of the now defunct Cannon Films (for more info check out Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films). But if you are to believe comic book writer and artist John Byrne it was more of a New Gods adaptation than an adaptation of the toy line (He-man didn’t even ride a giant cat). Recently news came out that in the script written by David S. Goyer (Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman vs Superman) He-Man and Skeletor are brothers. I don’t want to judge, but this gets me worried. It sounds a little like Thor – a trilogy set in the fantasy/sci-fi genre about two brothers and it quickly ran out of steam before Taika Waititi (Thor Ragnorak) changed almost everything in the third movie.
What I would like to see in a He-man movie is a Lord of the Rings style fantasy epic with lasers and robots, where a young Prince holds up a magic sword and by the power of Grey Skull unites the different peoples of Eternia the bee men, moss men, hairy rocket-pack wearing men (what the heck was Stratoss meant to be?) along with the royal army consisting of cyborgs like Man-E-Faces (I’m sure his powers will come in handy), Mechaneck , Roboto and medival warriors Ram Man, Fistor (yes keep the name), and Teela. He must unite them against Skeletor’s growing army of beast men, mermen, skunk men, and snake men.
The opening scene could show a remote village of beast men who are about to be consumed by a volcano, until a wizard wearing a hood protects them all – he then pulls back the hood to show he has a skull for a head. Cut to years later and there is word in the kingdom that this skull man is growing strong…what can stop him? Certainly not King Randolph’s dorky son Prince Adam who hangs out with a cowardly talking cat and is constantly emasculated by Duncan’s (veteran soldier Man-At-Arms) daughter Teela. Then let the quest start.
As the whole concept is ridiculous, don’t bog us down with back story. Take a leaf out of Fury Road’s book and don’t bother with the set up, just get into it. Us fans want to see all our favourite action figures on the big screen – we don’t need to know why there are bee man and skunk men in the same world, just as we didn’t need to know why the Doof Warrior played guitar as the War Boys went into battle.
Make it funny, make it exciting, and make it a roller coaster ride. If you need to see how it can be done check out Brain K Vaughn and Fiona Staple’s brilliant comic series Saga where sci-fi and fantasy mix and we have a robot royal families, axe swinging half man half baby fur seals, ghost baby sitters and giant trees that are rockets.
And make sure you have the line: ‘Fistor, Ram Man take them from behind!’