- Voice Acting
- Part 1
- Part 1 vs Part 2 feels like 2 different shows
- Sex Scene
- Deaths are meaningless
- Most of Part 2
Masters of the Universe: Revelation works as a series conclusion to the original Hannah-Barbara show. But as with most media related to He-Man, it fails to leave an impressionable mark on anyone but diehard He-Man/MOTU fans. A strong voice cast and some of the best 2D animation in years feels wasted on a show that can't decide if it wants to reinvent itself or cater to 40 year old fan-boys.
A Series of Two Halves that Don’t Make a Whole
Over the summer, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe became a hot topic for the first time in what felt like ages. Kevin Smith’s executively produced show had launched on Netflix and EVERYONE was talking about it. The series acts as a conclusion(?) to the original Hannah-Barbara series from the early 1980’s. A glorified toy commercial featuring the end of an era of a specific animation style, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a show that every little boy watched and owned at least one or two action figures from.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe are no strangers to series reboots. Everything from a heavily Sci-Fi influenced series – The New Adventures of He-Man in 1990 – to the 2001 series reboot on Cartoon Network have graced our televisions over the years. But with questionable toy distribution from Mattel during the 2001 resurgence, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe became only a comic book and a fan club action figure series.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation is a direct continuation of the 1980’s Hannah-Barbara cartoon series. The series is broken in to two halves, the first premiering in the Summer of 2021 and the second half in November of 2021.
Part 1 – Not Your 1980’s Masters of the Universe
When I was lucky to view the first half before it premiered my first thought was “crap this is going to piss off part of the Internet”. Despite not being called “He-Man” there seems to be an expectation that any series focused in this world must be focused on He-Man. It is not – this series is focused on Teela, following her story.
Part 1 is a great story because we get insight on Teela – the only main character who was never included in the secret of who He-Man really is (spoiler: Prince Adam). He-Man and Skeletor look to die in battle and He-Man’s identity is revealed to everyone – including a distraught Teela – who has to deal with loss and betrayal from everyone who mattered in her life.
As Eternia loses its magic, Teela and her compatriot – a new character named Andra – try to do normal work for hire. But it doesn’t take long until Evil Lynn brings Teela back to the fold to save Eternia before all of magic is gone forever!
We get arguably one of the greatest redemption arcs with what happens with Orko and even Beast Man and Evil Lynn start to look like sympathetic characters who simply fell under the manipulation of a crazed madman.
Teela and company end up in Preternia to reforge the Power Sword and end up bringing Adam back from the dead. And as he goes to call on the power in Castle Grayskull while we get our epic conclusion to Part 1 – a revival of Skeletor, a potential death of Prince Adam, and the creation of Skelegod – a Skeletor who now wields The Power (Sword).
A Bunch of Angry Men Got Mad that they Didn’t Get More Mostly-Nude Muscular Man
The reaction was split – a lot of fans really enjoyed the new take on the series and the exploration of other characters while a sect of the Internet cried out that the series had gone “woke” and that Kevin Smith (Executive Producer) was “liberal trash”. But the most important reaction – people were watching and people were talking. And for Netflix, regardless of what the talking was about, it was a win-win.
Hype for the second half seemed, again, split – some couldn’t wait to see what looked to be Teela becoming the new He-Man while others refused to ever watch the series again for allegedly butchering He-Man.
A rumored release date of January 2022 became Thanksgiving 2021, and the second half released with what seemed like a whimper instead of a bang.
Sex, Sex-Jokes, and Classic Kevin Smith Dominate Part 2
From what everyone believed, the second half of Revelation was already written and well in to finishing touches when Part 1 was released, so any idea that “Netflix shifted the tone in response to outrage” seems unfounded. Which makes Part 2 leave a slightly bitter taste in my mouth – like Kevin Smith did a rug-pull, or that this entire series was designed specifically to get the reactions that it did.
Part 2 starts right where Part 1 leaves off – and at first it doesn’t disappoint! Skelegod and Evil-Lynn fight the Masters of the Universe with the sole intent of killing them all. The Sorceress is killed, Man-At-Arms Duncan is captured, and Teela activates her magic powers to teleport her, Andra, and a dying Prince Adam away. Skelegod and Evil-Lynn begin to search for our heroes as Teela discovers more magical powers that heal/revive Prince Adam.
Fisto is here. There’s a joke. It made me chuckle only because it has been a joke for decades and to see it finally acknowledged was a surprise. The bigger surprise is that this is where Revelation’s Part 2 begins to fall apart as classic “Kevin Smith” context and humor begins to work its way in to Eternia.
Skelegod releases some zombie gas that kills everyone, permanently, and turns them in to zombies. Most of the kingdom is wiped out. Prince Adam becomes a barbarian He-Man when he calls upon the power without the sword and we get a fight that fan-boys had been crying for over the summer.
Stuff happens and we get some closure to story lines over the decades. Teela acknowledges her parents, Prince Adam and his parents get closure to the whole “I’m He-Man” bit as well as their strained relationship to each other, Andra finally gets a family, Duncan gets his redemption, and everything you loved in Part 1 with Orko is magically wiped away because? The final battle in this entire series isn’t between He-Man and Skeletor but between Teela and Evil-Lynn.
Oh! And Evil-Lynn rides Skeletor on the throne while sucking his face.
Why It Doesn’t Work For Me
The first part of Revelation focuses primarily on two sides of the same coin – Teela and Evil-Lynn. One could care less about magic, the other feels lost without it. Both are exploring their lives without the male influence – different types of the same overall manipulation – and really becoming their own characters. Teela and Andra look to have a budding romance while Beast-Man showcases his humanity in convincing Evil-Lynn of her true self-worth, with the fate of Orko profoundly affecting her.
The second part of Revelation focuses on Skeletor’s obsession with destroying He-Man while Teela and Evil-Lynn have a big magic fight. While the first part really felt as if it took classic He-Man and Masters of the Universe characters and turned them in to actual characters you could care about, part two felt like a dramatic shift back to “cartoon” but with cliche adult themes thrown in to make it feel “X-TREME!”.
The beginning of the series felt like a reinvention of Masters of the Universe and a departure of 1980’s character roles for modern day archetypes. The end of the series felt like a safety-net for Mattel – everything and everyone is mostly back to normal status quo with the only meaningful two deaths mostly reversed. And the promotion of “an ending to the original series” is shrugged at as the end of Revelation leaves a gigantic, Evil Horde-sized door wide open before the credits roll.
If it works for you – that’s awesome! For me, it felt like two different shows with the same title. And when put together as a single show, it doesn’t quite work for me.
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