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Masters of the Universe Just Redefined He Man and Cartoon Masculinity

WARNING The following contains spoilers for the entirety of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, now streaming on Netflix.

It’s no secret that Filmations Masters of the Universe franchise was centered on a stunted notion of masculinity  something which the toy industry in the 80s adhered to. We saw it in the likes of G.I. Joe and Thunder Cats but it stood out with He Man and Co. with the hero name alone saying it all. This continued into the rebooted cartoons and even the film that starred Dolph Lundgren as it became clear the strong guy trope was the main sell. However, come Kevin Smith s Masters of the Universe: Revelation the idea of a burly He Man being the guardian of Eternia gets drastically redefined as well as cartoon masculinity on the whole. The issues have been clear from the start  with He Man blatant  a grotesquely muscle bound barbarian in fur shorts viewed as the ideal man while his alter ego Prince Adam  despite identical physical attributes  is viewed as weak and a bumbling diplomat. Adam even wears pink which in the early  80s was a no no for masculine boys and is to this day considered girlish.

He Man in the Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 2 finale
That attitude trickled down to his cowardly pet companion, the aptly named Cringer, who afraid of everything, that is until he magically transformed into the fierce Battle Cat  something Netflix  other He Man cartoon altered. Only then is the cat seen as badass, worthy of being He Man  partner. Homoerotic interpretations of Skeletor obsession with He-Man aside this all created a straightforward power fantasy with little to no subtext as it revolved around a man yelling I have the power  before proceeding to kick butt with a magic sword. In other words it was all style and no substance over He Man being the Chosen One.

The Netflix reboot embraces a lot of the nostalgia from the original series while rejecting notions of that sort of overcharged  in your face masculinity that has plagued cartoons and the action figure realm. In Part 1 we see Adam as the only Hero of Preternia even if he doesn’t use his burly hero form in the afterlife. He sticks to being a skinny prince  understanding this is his best self. This angered some fans who were upset there was barely any He Man in the show. Even Teela and Or ko point out how the powerful hero is Adam, not so much He Man indicating they don’t need muscle to save their world just heart and soul. Part 2 doubled down on this with King Randor marveling that his son, whom he long neglected was stronger than He Man could ever be. Skeletor tried to kill Adam multiple times, but he alive and kicking, which inspires the king and Eternia forces to form a new alliance.

Savage He Man vs. Skele God in Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 2

In addition this rejection of masculinity is seen in the show theme the sharing of power. Like Skeleton in his Skeletal God form, or Evil Lyn in her God Lyn form, Adam could have horded the power of Gray skull for himself and remained as He Man 24 7. Instead, the mantle is just a tool and not who he wants or needs to be. In fact, he even shares the power with Skeletor so the villain can see what its like to be a hero, and by extension  human. The idea is reiterated after Adam and his allies defeat each threat to Eternia and he returns the power to become wimpy ol pink wearing Adam again. The power doesn’t make the man and its why the mild mannered soft spoken Adam is celebrated by all especially Teela as the New Sorceress. He’s the worthy champion and protector not He Man. This is best summed up when Adam becomes Savage He Man without the sword. Its truly hyper masculine but Adam didn’t like the brute he became. His version of the Hulk was all about devastation  thus why he refuses to transform into him again. Adam knows real strength lies in the hero within, not someone who can just overpower  take hits and smash without thinking. The entire 10 episode first season of Masters of the Universe  Revelation is now available on Netflix.KEEP READING  Evil Lyn Undergoes a Massive Power Up  and Masters of the Universes Best Arc

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masters of the universe I’m a former Chemical Engineer. It was boring so I decided to write about things I love. On the geek side of things, I write about comics, cartoons, video games, television, movies and basically all things nerdy. I also write about music in terms of punk indie hardcore and emo because well they rock If you re bored by now then you also don’t want to hear that I write for ESPN on the PR side of things. And yes  I’ve written sports for them too Not bad for someone from the Caribbean eh? To top all this off  I’ve scribe d short films and documentaries conceptualizing stories and scripts from a human interest and social justice perspective. Business wise I make big cheddar not really as a copywriter and digital strategist working with some of the top brands in the Latin America region. In closing, let me remind you that the geek shall inherit the Earth.

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