Last week, Netflix released the first 5 episodes Masters of the Universe: Revelation last week; judging by the internet’s reaction, you would think that the Kevin Smith led show was responsible for the release of Covid. A large segment of fans complained that the show shit on their childhood, it pushed a female agenda over nostalgia, and that Kevin Smith wanted to give the middle finger to fans.
If you go in without a bias of the characters, this is a show of character building and creating a bigger world for a property that was only made to sell action figured. I watched the series when I was a kid and still have my action figures; I’ve recently re-watched a few episodes and, much like other ’80s cartoons, they didn’t hold up. The characters had no depth and the stories were pretty much the same from episode to episode.
The series starts with Skeletor (Mark Hamill) in disguise, getting the jump on the Sorceress (Susan Eisenberg) at Castle Grayskull. It leads to a giant battle where He-Man (Chris Wood) sacrifices himself to save the day and Eternia. Skeletor is also gone as well. The remaining heroes return to King Randor (Diedrich Bader) and Queen Marlena (Alicia Silverstone), where they announce He-Man is dead. The Queen reveals she knew Adam was He-Man, which crushed both the King and Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Teela quits her newly appointed position of Man At Arms because everyone has been keeping this secret from her.
Fast forward and Teela is a mercenary. She, along with her partner Andra (Tiffany Smith), are being tasked with finding artifacts for an old lady that is revealed to be Evil-Lyn (Lena Headey). Teela and Andra eventually run into her father Man-At-Arms (Liam Cunningham) and discover that Orko (Griffin Newman) is dying because magic disappeared with He-Man and Skeletor. To save Eternia, Tela, Andra, Orko, Roboto (Justin Long), Evil-Lyn, and Beast Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) go on a quest to remake the Sword of Power. They find Adam in Preternia, a version of Vahalla for Eternia. Roboto is able to remake the sword by sacrificing himself, and Orko sacrifices himself to allow the team to return to Eternia and restore Castle Grayskull and Magic. Adam decides to return with the team, and as he lifts the sword to restore the magic, Skeletor is released from a magic relic that Evil-Lyn was carrying to kill He-Man and take the Sword of Power.
Yes, He-Man dies twice; but each death is well done and advances the storyline. The more impressive death is that of Orko; he starts the series as the Orko from the old show, but he makes major leaps as a character with the help of Evil-Lyn. In fact, the Orko/Evil-Lyn scenes are probably the high point of the series.
Here’s the main thing – Teela is the star of the show. She goes from a supporting character to one that can carry the series; she is very smart and strong in this series and we see her evolve from replacement supporting character to the savior of the realm. And maybe that is why those fans are butthurt…He-Man wasn’t the main character of the series; if he were, they’d probably have called it He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
It brings us back to the age old issue of fandom: when we are fans of stuff from our childhood, we put it on a pedestal. When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out, fans shit all over it because of the acting, writing, and characters. If you take an objective look at the original, the acting is pretty bad, the writing is cliche, and some of the characters (specifically the Ewoks) are as annoying as Jar Jar Binks. This cycle repeated itself with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. People shit on it for the story. While I wasn’t a complete fan of the sequels, I enjoyed them for what they were…more Star Wars. Fans should be happy that there is more MOTU and that it’s introducing the characters to a new generation of fans.
And for those complaining about killing the main character, remember that Tranformers did that way before the Revelation crew did it with Prince Adam; the death of Optimus Prime helped push the story forward there and introduced the next generation of characters. That’s what He-Man’s death did here (at least as far as story goes). Plus, when has a death like this really stuck? Prime was back within a season of the show and Kevin Smith has pretty much said Adam will be coming back.
Rating: This was a great addition to the MOTU franchise and it did more for the story then the original series ever did. I’m looking forward to the second part. 4.25 out of 5.