The new Netflix series Masters of the Universe: Revelation, written by Kevin Smith, is the latest offering from Powerhouse Animation, which also produced the Netflix shows Blood of Zeus and Castlevania. Science fiction author Zach Chapman believes it’s superior to its predecessors.
“I think the animation actually surpasses Blood of Zeus—for sure in the designs, and redesigns, of a lot of the characters,” Chapman says in Episode 478 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And then just in the quality of the animation itself. The battle scenes are, on average, better and more interesting than Castelvania.”
Masters of the Universe: Revelation picks up the story of He-Man as he appeared in the 1983 children’s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley enjoyed the show, but was surprised that it strayed so far from the classic He-Man formula. “I was disappointed that the show seemed to be sidelining the characters that I actually remembered,” he says. “My initial reaction was that I wanted to see more of the He-Man that I remember, where he’s switching back and forth between Adam and He-Man.”
TV writer Andrea Kail also had issues with the characterization of Teela, who emerges as the focal point of the series. “They frequently do this with women characters, where their lives are fine: She just got promoted, she’s got a great relationship with her dad—she was just hugging him—and then she finds out that somebody lied to her, and it’s like, ‘That’s it. I’m throwing down my sword and walking out, and I’m never talking to you again for years and years,’” Kail says. “It perpetuates the stereotype of the hysterical, overemotional woman who holds a grudge. So I really wish they hadn’t done that.”
But fantasy author Christopher M. Cevasco found Masters of the Universe: Revelation to be a near-perfect mix of classic characters and new ideas. “It ticked all the boxes that I was hoping it would, as someone who loved the show in the ’80s,” he says. “And I loved the new directions that they took it in from that starting point. So to me I just think it was the best of both worlds, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.”
Listen to the complete interview with Zach Chapman, Andrea Kail, and Christopher M. Cevasco in Episode 478 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
David Barr Kirtley on Skeletor:
“The guy who invented Skeletor, when he was a kid he went to some amusement park, and was in the haunted house, and this corpse on a noose dropped down in front of him and scared the crap out of him. And he’s like, ‘That’s a real dead body! I know that’s a real dead body.’ And it turned out it was a real dead body. There was this outlaw who died in a shootout with police, and no one came to collect the body, so the guy at the funeral home decided to embalm him and charge admission to see him. And then a conman came and cheated him out of it, and sold it to a carnival or something. It changed hands a bunch of times, and eventually people didn’t realize it was a real dead body, and it finally ended up in this amusement park. … So that’s what inspired Skeletor.”
Christopher M. Cevasco on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe:
“I actually used to record the episodes on VHS, and would watch them back and take careful notes for a planned project&mdsah;which of course never came to fruition—where I wanted to make a big compendium of the entire world, with details about the history and geography, and biographies of the various characters. … I loved the fact that it wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill cartoon where everything is on the surface. With various episodes throughout the run, you find out layers and layers of history behind characters, and they bring certain elements back, and the relationships that develop and the mythology behind the world get more and more developed as it goes along.”
Zach Chapman on Beast Man:
“I thought that Beast Man should have been against Triclops for reasons other than, ‘Hey, don’t hurt Evil-Lyn.’ Why is his alliance with her? His alliance should be with the beasts that he controls. [The Triclops cult] takes these nano-machines, and they drink them, and they become part machine. So Beast Man, being a beast, being of the natural world, should be opposed to this mixing of technology with flesh and polluting the natural world. I thought it would have been way cooler if they had gone that way. Immediately, I was like, ‘You’re making this guy just a bodyguard, when he could be way more interesting.’”
Andrea Kail on women writers:
“As I was watching [Masters of the Universe: Revelation], I watched the credits right at the beginning, and it stood out to me that there’s only one woman writer, and the main character—for all intents and purposes—is a woman. I just don’t understand why you can’t get more women writers in there. And no women directors either—it was just two guys. Watching the [Power of Grayskull] documentary this morning, they had more women working on the original show in the ’80s than they do on this. … There’s a call now for more strong women characters, and that’s great, but we need more women behind the scenes. We need more women writing women’s stories.”