Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on July 28, 2021 @ 1:06 pm CT
The first five episodes of Masters of the Universe: Revelation premiered on Netflix on July 23 and as Kevin Smith promised hardcore He-Man fans, it's pretty good and pretty much a direct continuation of the original series. Though the series does conclude quite suddenly at the end of Episode 1, when the show’s central conflict is resolved, and the rest of the cast is left dealing with life on an Eternia with neither He-Man nor Skeletor.
Most people seemed to have liked it, except of course for its intended audience of hardcore adult He-Man "fans." As of yesterday, the series had gotten "a 95% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes from 36 critics" but only got "a 34% from more than 1,700 fan votes." In spite of all of Smith’s efforts to please He-Man fans, a very vocal minority of them hated Revelations so much they proceeded to sabotage the fan ratings via "bombing" them with negative reviews. If this sounds familiar, it should; "fans" did the same sort of thing to Ghostbusters, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Captain Marvel; movies that dared to have casts that were diverse and inclusive.
As to why Masters Of The Universe: Revelation got review bombed, there’s the notion that "Kevin Smith lied" about being a big He-Man fan or that the show was a "bait and switch." Fans felt they had been promised He-Man, and were bitterly disappointed when he “died” in Episode 1 and the main character became his female compatriot Teela, who in this iteration has a side shave and maybe a girlfriend.
Naturally, Smith had a message for He-Man "fans", one I wholeheartedly agree with; "You really @#$%@#$ think Mattel Television, who hired me and paid me money, wants to do a f***ing 'Masters of the Universe' show without He-Man? Grow the #$%@ up, man."
Back in 2019, I wrote a column about how much baggage came with the He-Man franchise, starting with his name (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy--Non-Toxic”). That it was an antique term (Merriam Webster says the "first known use of he-man was in 1758"), and while synonymous with a strongman, it’s now most commonly used as a synonym for a brutal dictator or macho man. Generally, things you really don’t want your brand associated with.
At the time, I had people tell me that the word He-Man didn’t really have the kind of negative connotations I was suggesting. Then, over the weekend, I watched a YouTube review of the 2017 MofTU documentary, The Power of Greyskull (it’s available for streaming on Netflix until August 23), and saw an interview with Herb Scheimer, one of the founders of Filmation, the animation company that gave us He-Man and The Masters of the Universe. The subject of He-Man’s name came up and Scheimer said, "When we first heard the name it was so macho and so male chauvinistic, it'll never work."
Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy-- Back In The Limelight”) makes major changes to my beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters.
I decided I would be a complete hypocrite if I didn’t give Jellystone! a fair chance. So I watched a video of the ComicCon@Home 2021 HBO Max and Warner Bros Animation: Jellystone! panel. It reminded me that the executive producer and showrunner of the series is C.H. Greenblatt, a very talented screenwriter, producer, storyboard artist, cartoonist, animator, and voice actor who created Cartoon Network’s Chowder and Nickelodeon’s Harvey Beaks. I already knew Jonny and Hadji from Jonny Quest were going to be among the cast, but the panel informed me "Johnny Quest and Hadji are all grown up, and own a bowling alley." Hanna-Barbera, all I've ever done is love you, why would you want to hurt me, and them, this way?
And finally, still not wanting to judge the series sight unseen, I watched a two-minute preview of the series in which I saw Yogi Bear vomit up a chair. I have officially seen enough.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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