Why the Possibilities Are Limitless for a New He-Man Movie

BY LON STRICKLAND

The new live-action movie may or may not lean into the colorful antics of the original show.

The ‘toy first’ franchise of Masters of the Universe has had a spotty history with live-action adaptations of the beloved He-Man character and his endless army of friends and foes. While audiences weren’t exactly in unanimous approval of the 1987 live-action film starring Dolph Lundgren as our favorite muscle-bound blend of Conan The Barbarian and Superman, the film has still gained a cult following over the years.

The common criticism applied to any actor chosen to play He-Man resides in the realm of physical build. However, it could be argued that He-Man’s most important trait is the ability to go between Prince Adam and He-Man, which was executed impeccably well by voice actor John Erwin in the original 1980s cartoon series. Some may even cite Erwin’s importance is on the level of voice actor Peter Cullen who gave us the iconic Optimus Prime performance, later called on again for the films to achieve brand perfection. Erwin may have taken a cue from Superman actor Christopher Reeve in creating two distinctly different approaches to the hero and secret identity characters that make up He-Man. Weirdly, this iconic aspect of He-Man was entirely absent in the 1987 film and may speak volumes about the tonal difference between the movie and cartoon.

In 2002, He-Man got a classy reboot in animated form that shifted the tone into something more serious but seemed to fade into obscurity. The show was again rebooted recently with executive producer Kevin Smith in a series that divided fans over some of its creative choices that treaded into the realm of political correctness, which is always a recipe for impassioned social media posts and press.

Still, fans are excited for what may be in store for a new live-action effort with Kyle Allen currently slated to star in the leading role. Let’s take a deep dive into what makes He-Man so special and why levity and imagination may be the franchise’s greatest strength, apart from He-Man’s gigantic muscles.

He-Man is Ridiculous
Part of He-Man’s charm in the original MOTU cartoon series was its ability to be highly dramatic and action-packed while at the same time utterly ridiculous with Loony Tunes level absurdity. This helped the brand walk the fine line needed to accomplish its primary objective — sell toys. Lots and lots of toys. Netflix’s fantastic series, The Toys That Made Us, confirmed that the franchise was a shameless result of market research, designed to resonate with kids’ desire to “have the power” in the form of what is arguably the greatest packaging ever conceived for a toy line.

The Mattel branded boxes with their 3-dimensional metallic logo bursting forward against a fiery red backdrop below the mysteries of outer space outshined every toy around it. Pulled from the bonkers flavor of 1980s fantasy akin to Heavy Metal, this was the kid-friendly version, and it was an unstoppable “gotta-get-em-all” assault on the senses. The boundless creativity of the product line was like an addictive plastic drug for anyone who grew up in the ’80s.

No Rhyme or Reason
The characters often felt like something a pre-schooler would have dreamed up. Limitless imagination with crazy concoctions and special gimmicks were often a trait you would find amidst the toy lines that never seemed to stop flowing. While some fans may site the brand’s expansion into She-Ra may have spoiled the fun for all the chauvinistic little boys of the world, any true fan knows how awesome it was to get a whole new line of figures with Hordak’s team of demons.

To this day, it’s hard to explain why He-Man faded away, but there’s no mystery about why it has returned. It is an absolute pillar of 1980s childhood, and its nostalgic glow is so bright it hurts to stare directly at it.

The Balance of the Universe
The new live-action movie may or may not lean into the colorful antics of the original show. For a brand that’s sole purpose was to sell toys, it’s no mystery as to why humility seems to resurface time and time again when analyzing the phenomenon of He-Man and The Masters of The Universe. Absurdity is right there in the title, it’s the only ingredient in Orko’s DNA, and it flows like a river of slime around the villains and their motives.

He-Man needs a little comedy to work. While it’s tempting to want the brand taken seriously, you have to remember why it exists in the first place and make fun of it as much as you may genuinely love it.

SOURCE: https://movieweb.com/the-limitless-possibilities-of-a-new-he-man-movie/

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