If you’ve been wondering what’s happening with Sony’s proposed Masters of the Universe movie, you’re not alone. Well, we’re happy to announce that there have been some rumblings and apparently the film now has a release date set of December 18, 2019.
Starting out as a series of action figures sold with corresponding mini-comics in the early 1980s, the phenomenon became a much-loved animated series which ran from 1983 to 1985. The series was rebooted in 2002, while the comics saw a revival in 2011. The story revolved around Prince Adam, the son of the rulers of a planet called Eternia, who was endowed with magic powers when he held his special sword aloft and said: “By the Power of Grayskull… I have the power!” He had a foe, Skeletor, who wanted to conquer Castle Grayskull and seize power over Eternia, and beyond.
A big-screen adaptation landed in 1987, which starred Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor and is notable for featuring a young Courtney Cox. It was mainly terrible, although it’s fondly remembered by some.
It’s also very dated and definitely ripe for an overhaul. Here’s what we want from the new Masters of the Universe film:
1. An Eternia Setting
In the 1987 movie, we saw He-Man and Skeletor head to Earth in pursuit of an all-powerful key. While the decision to do this may have been budgetary – there wasn’t enough money to sink into creating Eternia – it meant audiences were robbed of the chance to see Eternia realised on the big screen.
Plus, an Eternia setting would allow Sony to press reset and tell the Masters of the Universe story – which hasn’t been adapted for the big screen in 30 years – from the beginning. An origin story perhaps, but certainly a story which develops and deepens the mythology…
2. A Fleshed-Out Mythology
Building a fertile yet watertight backstory into the film would add substance and answer questions it never even occurred to our young minds to ask first time around. And with the previous film set on Earth, what they were able to explore was limited. The original series, at the same time, was quite vague about Prince Adam’s powers and where they came from.
There’s plenty of material to mine from the comics and animated series that delves into the backgrounds of characters and the lore. We’d love to see the film given a rich mythology to give it the credibility and intrigue that something like The Lord of the Rings has.
3. A Scary Skeletor
Skeletor from the original animated series was a joke. He was the bad guy – and we recognised him as that – but the cartoon was far from properly menacing as Skeletor had lines like “I’ll turn you into a suitcase” and “You metal-munching moron”, which were always delivered with a campy relish.
The new film needs to have a good look at itself and understand that it needs to make Skeletor genuinely fearsome, like Lord of the Rings bad guys, or the Night King from Game of Thrones. And not make his evil army wimps and idiots.
The most recent name attached to write the screenplay is David S. Goyer, the man behind superhero scripts Batman Begins, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With his dark approach to this kind of material, early signs are promising. The other name that’s been bandied about is Thor screenwriter Christopher Yost. Nice, either way.
4. A Good Actor as He-Man
You know how Chris Hemsworth makes a good Thor? Casting like that, please. Swedish martial artist and aspiring actor Dolph Lundgren featured as He-Man back in 1987, in what was his first starring role. And although we kind of love him in a kitschy way for the whole thing, back then his command of the English language made things especially tricky and he had to work with a vocal coach to hone his delivery.
Director Gary Goddard was keen to bring in an actor to dub over Lundgren’s voice – as they did with Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon – but it was shot down.
Lundgren’s involvement led Goddard to restructure the film to see events through Skeletor’s eyes, which meant the whole project was compromised from the off.
Twilight’s Kellan Lutz has reportedly already auditioned for the role and is very enthusiastic but what about someone like James Marsden? He was, of course, Cyclops in the X-Men films and has been impressing us all lately in the role of android Teddy Flood in Westworld.
5. Teela 2.0
We loved Teela growing up, but there were episodes of the animated series in which she was a little too damsel-in-distress for our liking. Although her job was to protect Prince Adam, she found herself having to be rescued by his alter ego He-Man on more than one occasion. Remember when she was about to be sacrificed to a sea monster? He-Man swoops in to save her.
Why not make her a bit more like, say, Michonne from The Walking Dead? She’s probably the most badass character in that whole show and doesn’t need anybody ever to step in and help her out. Also, maybe ditch the sexy outfit. In fact, more strong women characters in He-Man’s gang full stop wouldn’t go amiss.