A lot of middle-aged He-Man nerds were vocally upset with Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation, a sequel to the original ‘80s cartoon, for the ways it took risks and deviated from the 40-year-old source material. I can’t imagine the nonsense they’ll spew when they see this trailer for Netflix’s other He-Man series, the one targeted at kids. Despite the fact that it’s, you know, for kids.
The series was developed by Mattel Television and Rob David, and Bryan Q. Miller—who you may know from his DC Comics work or his TV resume of Sleepy Hollow, Shadowhunters, Smallville, and more—is its story editor. Adam Bonnett and Christopher Keenan are executive producers, and the writers include Heath Corson, Amanda Deibert, Keely MacDonald, Peter Binswanger, Lila Scott, Matt Drdek, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson. What about that voice cast? Here you go: Yuri Lowenthal (He-Man/Adam/Tuvar), David Kaye (Cringer/Battle Cat), Grey Griffin (Evelyn/Evil-Lyn), Antony Del Rio (Duncan/Man-at-Arms), Kimberly Brooks (Teela/Eldress/Sorceress), Trevor Devall (R’Qazz/Beast Man), Judy Alice Lee (Krass/Ram Ma’am), Roger Craig Smith (Kronis/Trap-Jaw/General Dolos), Fred Tatasciore (King Randor/Baddrah), Ben Diskin (Skeletor/Prince Keldor), Tom Kenny (Ork-0/RK Units), Max Mitchell (Kitty), Max Stubington (Young Adam). Take a look at the first trailer.
“This animated CG series reimagines the ‘80s cartoon classic with fresh storylines and a modern spin for a new generation,” says Netflix’s website. The 2021 series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe—not to be confused with the original ‘80s series with the same title—has made a lot of radical changes to the franchise, which is likely the only way He-Man could work nowadays. Gone, seemingly, are most of the traditional versions of characters like Man-at-Arms, Ram-Man, and Moss-Man, replaced by a diverse group of kids that pal around with Adam and end up joining his fight against evil. The franchise’s traditional fantasy setting seems to be gone, and the characters relocated to a more sci-fi setting (emphasized by He-Man’s tech-based powered sword). And while Skeletor is still the antagonist, it seems like his secret origin as Prince Adam’s uncle Keldor will play a role in the story. So yeah, these are a lot of changes, all clearly designed to broaden—maybe focus is the better word—the franchise for much younger kids. The protagonists are younger, the character designs are cartoonishly exaggerated in an appealing way, and it appears that the heroes all get to transform into costumed heroes—not just Adam. There’s a lot more humor this time around, too. Orko is a robot!
This He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series is also seemingly drawing inspiration from popular modern kids’ series like Power Rangers, Teen Titans Go, various superhero cartoons, and more. Which, if you’re trying to make a kids’ action cartoon in 2021, is likely the right way to go. I’m not sure it’s for me in the sense that I’m not sure I’ll dig it, but I’m also completely confident it’s not for me in the sense that this show was not made for me in mind and couldn’t give the slightest damn what I think. Which is good! Love it or hate it, they already made a Masters of the Universe show just for adults! Shouldn’t kids today have a chance to enjoy this franchise on their own terms?
Let me answer this for you: Yes, they should. And they’ll get that chance on September 16, when He-Man and the Masters of the Universe —which features animation by House of Cool (Trollhunters) and CGCG (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)—premieres on Netflix.
Correction 8/20/2021, 8:50 a.m. ET: We corrected job titles.
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