Heroes & Villains: ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’

Heroes & Villains time and THIS week I didn’t forget that I had a column to write! In fact, I started writing it (in my mind) last Friday because sometimes the internet just writes your columns for you.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation

See, this is why we can’t have nice things, you assholes.

I plopped down on the couch last Friday around 6 am to watch Masters of the Universe: Revelation and was surprised to see it was already trending on Twitter. Since it was just a scant six hours after the first five episodes had dropped on Netflix this was either a good thing or very, very bad. Deep down, I knew which it was.

After the first episode ended, I paused Netflix, opened Twitter, and peeked through my fingers as I tapped on the “Masters of the Universe” hashtag. A totally unsurprising torrent of vitriol awaited me as I had expected. Trolls were screaming about liberal/feminist agendas and shoehorning the word “woke” into the title (“Masters of the Woke-verse”), and spoiling the ever-loving shit out of the remaining four episodes.

Rewinding things a few days to before the series premier, I knew that we were in for some trouble and had begun to steel myself accordingly. The new Teela herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, had taken to her Instagram to premier the new Tesla action figure and ask fans to give the new series a chance. It’s not an unreasonable request and we should all approach new things with open minds but within the context of an appeal to fans of an established property…that usually signals a seismic change in things or something that will upset the delicate applecart of “fandom.”

Spoilers follow below

By the Power of Grayskull… she was not wrong. So called fans of MotU were freaking the fuck out that both He-Man AND Skeletor apparently die at the end of the first episode. There’s an indeterminate time jump between episode and the series shifts its focus to Teela as the primary character. Based on the reaction one would have thought they announced an all female Ghostbusters movie or something. Twitter was positively apoplectic that their favorite nearly-nude, dutch boy haircut-sporting, furry underwear-having, barbarian ate shit in episode one and now they had to watch a GIRL be a hero! Plus, she didn’t even have the good sense to be She-Ra.

Between episodes, I trucked ass over to IMDb and the Masters of the Universe: Revelation page was in a state akin to coming over a ridge and discovering that Genghis Khan had just visited your village and burned it to the ground. The review bombing had begun in earnest and the 1-star reviews were positively pouring in. As of this writing the show sits at a 4.7 out of 10 rating. Similarly, over on Rotten Tomatoes the show is sporting a 34% average audience score, something that is completely at odds with the 95% positive critical rating.

Rarely do I use my Twitter account for anything other than retweeting links to my articles but I had to tweet out, “Of all the things to get upset about a 40 year old cartoon should be dead last.” I am ancient enough to have watched the original He-Man cartoon during its initial run along with being vaguely bummed out by the Dolph Lundgren Masters of the Universe movie. I freely acknowledge that the original cartoon was shit. A cheaply animated, thirty minute, toy commercial that I loved the hell out of at the time and when I revisited it on DVD in my 20’s I saw that it had not aged well. I cannot possibly imagine Masters of the Universe being a hill that I would want to die on.

For that matter, I can’t imagine anything that I’m a fan of being so important that I would take to the internet with virtual torches and pitchforks in hand to scream about how bad something was. I’m not saying that I haven’t been annoyed when franchises didn’t live up to my expectations (X-Men 3, Spider-Man 3, and Amazing Spider-Man 1 AND 2, I am looking directly at you) but I knew enough to recognize that something wasn’t for me and move on with my life. It’s the power of letting go, guys.

Letting go of things or realizing that stuff wasn’t and shouldn’t be made for you is so goddamn freeing. If a comic isn’t doing it for me or is consistently last on my reading list…I drop it. Problem solved and I didn’t even have to tweet a death threat at the creative team to do it! Similarly, I don’t bend the ear of whoever is nearby on WHY the book or show was the worst thing since unsliced bread. I guarantee you they do not care.

This approach is, I feel, a bit healthier than just telling someone that if THEY love He-Man so much they should make THEIR OWN He-Man show because that’s never going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see another 40-year-old blow up their current life, go to film school, make the right connections, and claw their way up through the film and TV industry, all to realize their dream of a grim and gritty and totally NOT homoerotic Masters of the Universe TV show and/or movie. Get out there and make me proud, boys.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this YouTube video from Tony Goldmark. It is a piece of satire that is so chillingly accurate that I didn’t realize it was a joke until I was well into the video (not really, I am very smart and understand humor). Anytime there is some impotent nerd rage online over something that doesn’t matter, this is where my mind goes. If you’ve made it this far in my column and you’re one of the people that’s upset by the new MOTU cartoon…this is you.

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