BY MATT TUCK
A week after Masters of the Universe: Revelation sent shockwaves through the comic community, it’s time talk about that ending and what it means for the future of the franchise.
SPOILER ALERT. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
If Netflix and Kevin Smith were looking to shake up the MOTU fandom, they succeeded. Smith has been playing defense since before the release date as hardcore He-Man devotees accused him of making a “woke” MOTU. The series was overall entertaining with enough twists and turns to keep the story from feeling like a copycat of the original show.
Wrought with nostalgia, the series was a mixture of the dramatic anime style with the classic appeal of the 1983 series. The most charming aspect were the vehicles, which were drawn more like the actual ‘80s toys than ever before. It felt like watching someone tell a story using the original action figure line.
The five-episode season is clearly aimed to elevate Teela as the new protector of Eternia. As we knew beforehand, she is the star of Revelation, and her romantic relationship with Ileena is heavily implied and will likely be a bigger plot point in the second season. All of this has infuriated a vocal section of fans of the original MOTU series.
Where the series doubled-down on Teela’s ascension is in the series’ final moments. Teela, Illeena, and Evil Lyn journey into Preternia, which is basically He-Man heaven. They meet King Grayskull and other historical Eternia figures only mentioned in the original MOTU legends. He-Man died to save Eternia in the first episode, and he has chosen to spend eternity in his Prince Adam form, hinting that this was his true self all along.
Adam decides to leave Preternia, which Grayskull tells him means he can never return to the ethereal paradise of his ancestors. Just when Adam takes up the Sword of Power and says the magic words, Evil Lyn betrays the heroes and resurrects Skeletor. Adam is then impaled by his arch-nemesis, leading to Skeletor winning for the first time in almost 40 years.
To be frank, I was never a major He-Man fan; my heart belonged to G.I. Joe. My brother and I watched the cartoons, and we had the toys, but I preferred using my He-Man action figure as a makeshift professional wrestler rather than the defender of Eternia. (Does anyone else remember Moss-Man smelling like a pine-scented air freshener fit for a New York taxi?) That being said, the changes to MOTU didn’t bother me. It felt more like a show that simply wasn’t made for my particular audience.
Showcasing strong female characters in a series that was built around the manliest of men was an ironic twist on the childhood favorite. To be fair to Smith, he and the Netflix producers likely didn’t want to simply rehash the exact same show from the ‘80s. With a cartoon that was created with the intent of marketing action figures specifically to little boys, there was never much emotional depth to draw from. Amidst the blatant marketing (which was a hallmark of basically every ‘80s cartoon in one way or another, and I am fine with that) were fairly one-dimensional morality tales meant to teach children right from wrong, the power of friendship, how knowing is half the battle, etc.
When it comes to revising the classic cartoon for a new audience, it would seem that Kevin Smith wanted to do what no other He-Man series had done before. From a writer’s perspective, that makes sense. Why come aboard just to dole out another MOTU story? In making massive changes to the old formula, Netflix also shifted the target audience from hardcore He-Man fans toward a younger generation, specifically female. Because in the end, that’s what the show is: an action-packed fantasy epic aimed mostly at teen and pre-teen girls. The entire first season was meant to get support behind Teela’s emergence as the new protector of Eternia while the second season will most likely aim to cement her as He-Man’s better. That means defeating Skeletor once and for all, something Prince Adam could never do.
Skeletor has finally vanquished his enemy and become the Master of the Universe for one specific purpose: to give Teela a true monster of monsters to slay. In the process, she will probably get Adam’s dying approval to be the new bearer of the Sword of Power and defeat his lifelong antagonist. Here’s another prediction: when Teela kills Skeletor (who will be rechristened Skelegod in the next season) in epic fashion, she won’t change from Teela into some buff bodybuilder form. She won’t need it as she was able to defeat Skeletor without the boost, furthering solidifying her as a better warrior than Prince Adam, who will acknowledge this just before he dies.
Sorry to disappoint the He-Man faithful, but Adam won’t be any bigger part of the future MOTU than he was in season one. As far as a story arc, it wouldn’t make sense for him to return to form. Putting He-Man back in place as Eternia’s consummate champion would undermine everything Revelation has done to push Teela to the forefront.
Now the only question is whether or not we will see She-Ra arrive in the show.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.