August 2021 - COVER STORY: Masters of the Universe Revelation
“By the Power of Grayskull!”
When you hear that phrase, you are taken back in time - sitting in front of your television on a Saturday morning with a bowl of cereal watching He-Man and The Master of the Universe. The classic Saturday morning cartoon is discovering a resurgence under the direction of Kevin Smith. Masters of the Universe Revelation, premiering on July 23rd on Netflix, picks up where the iconic characters left off decades ago. After a cataclysmic battle between He-Man and Skeletor, Eternia is fractured. The Guardians of Grayskull are scattered. After decades of secrets tore them apart Teela must reunite the broken band of heroes and solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to restore Eternia and prevent the end of the universe. Smith has been a fan of the series since he was a child. He talks about bringing a new iteration to the small screen, expanding classic storylines, and what fans can expect.
“I watched all of the TV series growing up, it was everywhere in the ‘80s. These characters started off as toys and ended up becoming part of the global pop culture fabric. So much of this show has been possible because of the love and affection for this world at every level of production and the fandom surrounding this franchise,” shared Smith. “A big reason we got such top tier voice talent is because people genuinely want to be a part of this world. So many of us were touched by these stories and these characters early in our lives and were so happy to come back to Eternia. But even if you’ve never watched a single episode of the show or don’t know this universe at all, you can jump right into the story. It’s a really classic, universal action-adventure epic about growth, discovery, magic, and power. This series explores destiny in a fresh way. There’s a lot of reconciling with secrets, betrayal, trust, acceptance, love, and ultimately, loss.”
When it comes to how Masters of the Universe Revelation ties into the original series, Smith set the series up as a continuation, following the mythology and characters we’ve grown to know and love. “Narratively our show is set up as the next episode in the legacy ‘80s animated series that aired from 1983-1985. This is a continuation of that story. We're playing with the original mythology and characters, and revisiting and digging deeper into some of the unresolved storylines,” states Smith. “Visually we also made the conscious decision to lean into the Masters of the Universe line of toys for inspiration as well. Mattel owns this entire vast library of that artwork, so right away we wanted the show to open with classic pieces of that artwork. Mattel has been committed to this look since they first started as a toy line in the '80s, and now we’re leaning into it and honoring it.”
The series is coming with some heavy hitters. Voice actors include Mark Hamill, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Stephen Root, Diedrich Bader, Henry Rollins, Jason Mewes, Justin Long, Alicia Silverstone, Phil LaMarr, and Kevin Conroy. Sarah Michelle Gellar shared how the role of Teela, after playing strong female characters like Buffy The Vampire and the Seventh Sister on Star Wars: Rebels, resonated strongly with her.
“I didn’t have strong female characters to look up to when I was growing up,” shared Geller. “So I've been fortunate to get to play them and bring them to life, and to make sure that little girls growing up today have lots of options and avenues into understanding that women are powerful. Storytelling is about making an impact and playing characters who people remember and who leave an impression. Those are always the best characters to play.”
Mark Hamill is honored to be working with Smith again and taking on the voice of Skeletor.
“I love challenges, and Skeletor is an iconic villain. I thought, "Boy, this is the kind of part that doesn't get thrown your way that often." And I have some history with Kevin Smith. Aside from being a fan of his, we did a film together in 2001 called Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and we just hit it off. I laughed non-stop filming that movie. Kevin is so easy to talk to. We're both nerd boys, both fanboys, and so we had an instant bond. We've been friends ever since. I felt that if anybody could find a way to reinvent this material, it would be him.”
Smith realized the characters were key. Expanding on the characters seen as the background was going to be a strong element to the success of the show.
“The show is about all of these beloved characters. In this adventure Teela takes the forefront, but not at the expense of anyone else. She became the obvious character for us to narratively follow very early on,” shared Smith. “We were like, “Well, wait a second. This is a chance for the person who has stood next to He-Man for his entire existence to rise to the occasion.” We revisited her storyline in the original series and we found so much to dig into and expand. It allows us to do everything we want to do: invoke power, technology, and magic all at once, because she's becoming something more than she historically has been. We're elevating a character who has been in this story from the beginning, but we're not doing it arbitrarily. We're doing it because the original show planted the seed all the way back in the ‘80s.”
The show highlights something that wasn’t shown much in the original show. Smith, realizing that older fans will now be watching with their kids, included more physicality this time around.
“We wanted to make sure the stakes were high right off the bat. Going into this iteration of MOTU, one of the most important aspects was that these characters get to cross swords. In the original show there's a lot of people doing somersaults because it’s really geared exclusively toward kids. These warriors finally get to throw a punch, take a punch, and do real battle. The women in the show look very different in this iteration of MOTU than the original reference material, and that was a conscious creative effort — they have real muscular perspective and are very athletic. These women are warriors and we wanted them to have that physicality. Emotionally, our creative directive was to treat this IP like Shakespeare. It’s incredibly fun and full of adventure, but it’s also an incredibly human epic. Honestly, the dialogue in this show is some of the greatest dialogue I've personally ever written. I’m so proud of this show on every level, and it was an entirely collaborative effort. I just watch the cuts every night and cry, I really believe that people are going to love this show.”
So whether you binge-watch or treat it as a Saturday morning tradition, Masters of the Universe Revelation will take you back to your childhood and share a moment with your family.