"I have the power!" declared He-Man. And indeed he does. That power even extended to the Bicep-Burdened-One going toe to toe with Superman. Although shockingly, they probably didn't just fight with their toes, other body parts may well have been involved too. However, He-Man's power certainly didn't extend to being in a good live-action film. When Masters of the Universe was released in 1987... well... let's just say it wasn't too well received. Fortunately it did manage the feat of being 'so bad it's good' and in the process gained the title of 'guiltiest of pleasures,' only equalled in guilty pleasure rankings by the action of melting all of the maltesers in a pack to form one giant super malteser.
I must admit to rather liking the film, watching it on VHS in the early nineties. It had everything an 11 year old needed. Painfully obvious rip-offs from Star Wars? Check. Those were definitely Storm Trooper wannabes that He-man was beating up. The hero riding a flying surfboard? Check. There was an entire sequence that saw the Eternian Wonder, played by a never more oiled up Dolph Lungren, zipping around on a hover board. Cool Villains? Absolutely. Frank Langella, donning the skeletal visage of the evil Skeletor, chewed up so much scenery that there were veritable chunks taken out of the locations.
It's the perfect turn your brain off, pull it out of your skull and throw it under a moving bus film and here's 15 Things you didn't know about it.
15 That Would Make Her Very Crotch
Meg Foster made for a fantastic Evil Lyn with her ice blue eyes and overly exaggerated posture. Turns out though, that whilst her eyes were natural her body posture was anything but. The Evil Lyn costume consisted of a metallic swimming costume, which despite its sleek appearance weighed in at a back breaking 45 lbs. Indeed the costume was so rigid that it led to Meg's crotch being bruised throughout the filming. Despite the pelvic pains the costume had its advantages, according to Foster it helped her 'to remain in character, and suggested that its immobile design informed her character’s signature posture'.
Although, it also explains why Evil Lyn never sat down in the film, the costume prevented Foster from doing so. Either that or she just hates chairs.
14 Burn Baby Burn
During one of the earth bound sequences of the film, our heroes are chased by a villainous squadron of Skeletor's henchman through a high-school gymnasium. Combat ensues and in the process the gym is set on fire, with the musical equipment for the school dance soon erupting in spectacular flame. 'Wow,' eleven-year-old me thought, 'those flames sure look real.' That's because they were. The fire genuinely became out of control during the filming of the set piece, to the extent that the gym was at a very real risk of being burnt to cinders. Fortunately the film crew were able to get the blaze under control before that could happen.
13 The Artist Formerly Known As Adam
Like all good superheroes, He-Man has a secret alter ego. And like all good superheroes it is utterly obvious that they are the same person. He-Man's alternative identity is that of Prince Adam. Rather than opting for a pair of spectacles, a deep gravelly voice, or a mask to keep his identity secret, Adam instead just opts to wear more clothes. That's right, He-Man looks exactly like Adam. The same jacked physique, humongous jawline and blond bowl cut hairdo make up the appearance of both men. It's just that He-Man chooses to only wear a small pair of furry pants, whilst Adam opts for the delightful combo of tight white shirt, pink waistcoat, purple trousers and small pair of furry purple pants.
How Skeletor never figured out He-Man's secret identity is beyond me. Anyway, it's probably for the above reason that Prince Adam did not make an appearance in the film, despite much fan consternation and backlash at the time.
12 Director DVD
So who put together this cinematic tragedy that we're learning about today? That would be the director Gary Goddard. His film career began with Masters of the Universe, it also ended with Masters of the Universe. But don't worry, this initial failure did not put Gary off. He was one part of the creative duo behind the TV show Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, which ran for one season. So no luck there for Gary either. But don't weep tears of sorrow for Gary. He went on to produce some of the most successful theme park rides of ALL time. Terminator 2/3D: Battle Across Time, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Star Trek: The Experience were all thanks to Gary.
Thousands of people have had a great deal of fun riding the works of Gary Goddard.
11 So Close And Yet So Far
Three days before the film's completion, the producers, Cannon Cinema, made the decision to pull the plug on production. Cannon Cinema were in deep financial peril at the time and had decided they simply didn't have the money available to wrap things up, despite only have the final epic battle between He-Man and Skeletor left to film. Fortunately, Gary Goddard went full action hero and decided to take matters into his own hands. He chose to give up some of his own salary in order to be able to finish the climatic final scene. After two and a half months the producers finally acquiesced and allowed filming to continue. It was all a bit rushed though, leading to the duel taking place in the dark, with what looks like a malfunctioning mist machine nearby, in order to disguise the fact that the other actors and extras had mysteriously disappeared.
To help promote Masters of the Universe to fans of the cartoons and toys a competition was held, in which the lucky little scamp who came out on top would win a part in the movie. One can only imagine that young Richard Szponder was fist pumpingly excited to have won, however this may not have lasted for long once he discovered the role that would be given to him. With all of the Earth scenes having been shot before the completion of the competition, it meant that a part had to be found for Richard amongst the denizens of Eternia. Enter Pigboy. That's right, now you know why there was a two second clip of a small mutant pig child giving Skeletor his staff in the film. It was so the film's producers stayed on the right side of Szponder's lawyers.
9 Zero Body Count
Unlike the mass murdering antics of He-Man's 1980s action film rivals, the blond titan himself never kills anyone. This was because of the stringent licensing agreement that Mattel had placed upon Cannon Cinema. In the cartoons themselves, despite his formidable stature, He-Man very rarely fought anyone. He usually opted to use his brain and only when absolutely required would he lob a villain into a trash can, tar pit, water barrel or similar. Whilst the He-Man of the film is hardly in favour of sword or gun control he still never kills anyone on screen. He may well chop down over eighty Stormtrooper wannabes during the film but don't worry as they are all robots. And if Spielberg's AI taught us anything, its that robots don't mind getting chopped into little pieces by a big sword.
8 Not Firm But Floppy
Perhaps it's no surprise considering everything you've read so far but Masters of the Universe flopped real hard upon release. For such a derivative script the film was surprisingly technically ambitious. The action took place over two worlds filled with bizarre creatures, impressive set pieces, armies of robots, laser beams aplenty and a flying throne for Skeletor. All this pushed the film way over budget to an absolutely shocking $22 million dollars (for fans of statistics-adjusted-for-inflation, that's 48 million dollars in today's money). It then went on to make only $17.3 million globally. Which, whilst pretty bad, is still an awful lot better than the $151 million dollar loss of Keanu Reeves' 47 Ronin. Ouch.
7 I'll Be Back
Despite Dolph Lundgren's disinterest in returning to the role of He-Man, there was still talk of a sequel. There were several plans for the follow up but the favoured choice was to have the surfer model (surely the best job ever?) Laird Hamilton pop on He-Man's hot pants. Whilst Laird had the sort of abs you could shave your chin on he lacked the Herculean physique of Lundgren. He certainly wouldn't have been helped by the awful plot either, the synopsis of which would make even Man-At-Arms weep. It goes like this; in order to keep the budget low, He-Man returns to earth in disguise as a quarterback. He's there to defeat an evil CEO who, to the surprise of absolutely no-one, is Skeletor in disguise. However, when the film flopped the production company lost the licence, which rather fortunately saved us from this abomination.
6 Who You Gonna Call?
Throughout his storied career across film, animation and comics, He-Man has been involved in a lot of team-ups and cross-overs. Recently he's taken on the Justice League in DC Comic's DC Universe vs The Masters of the Universe, culminating in He-Man being able to take down the Man of Steel thanks to his magic fuelled Power Sword. He's even had a run in with the Thundercats, where he and Lion-O spent several hours comparing the density of their mullets. However, there's still one cross-over I think we can all agree should happen: He-Man and the Ghostbusters. And it has happened! Almost. Several buildings from the first Ghostbusters film were used to fill out the background of Masters of the Universe's earth scenes. Now just imagine if Peter Venkman had leapt from a second storey window to blast Skeletor with his proton pack. Wouldn't that have been glorious?
5 It Could Have Changed The MCU As We Know It
The Marvel Cinematic Universe could well have been a very different place had Masters of the Universe been a hit. The production company, Cannon Cinema, had a grand plan. Once He-Man had proved himself to be a box office sensation they were going to follow up on his success by releasing a Spider-Man film. This was not to be, as once they'd lost the film rights to He-Man, they soon lost the rights to Spidey as well. They had some brilliantly bonkers plans for Spider-Man though. According to the would-be director Albert Puyun, the studio intended to get rid of the friendly wise-cracking web spinner we all know and love and have him replaced with a terrifying 8 armed mutant man instead. A bit like Marvel ultimately did in their comics with Man Spider. It certainly would have made the airport fight in Civil War a little different.
4 Bound To Earth
As we've seen, Cannon Cinema were certainly eager to keep the budget for Masters of the Universe down. And as it turned out they were absolutely right to do so. However, that didn't stop director Gary Goddard to step in and do right by his artistic creativity. To explain; initial drafts of the script saw all of the action take place on Earth. This cunning plan would have saved a fortune in set construction, although may well have led to more high schools being burned down. But it was not to be, as Goddard pushed for He-Man's home planet of Eternia to be involved and the rest is film history. Without him, we wouldn't have seen Marty McFly's head teacher wave his weapon at Dolph Lundgren. Thanks Gary Goddard.
3 Alternative Teela
Teela is brilliant and is one of the few examples from eighties pop culture of a heroine who is of more importance than the hero. This is because she is the cloned daughter of the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull (hope you're keeping up) and so is her heir. Ultimately Teela becomes the all-powerful goddess in the He-Man comics. She fares less well in the film though, and spends most of her time running after He-Man whilst wearing a grey morph suit. Things could have been so different though. Another draft of the script saw Teela make a much more heroic impression as she was to escape single handedly from a dungeon in Snake Mountain and go on to rescue several prisoners on her way out. Sadly though this scene was never filmed. Let's all imagine it in our minds right now instead.
Done? Ok. Moving on.
2 Dubbing He-Man
Whilst it's not clear what an Eternean accent should sound like, Gary Goddard was pretty certain that it shouldn't sound Swedish. Which was unfortunate as his leading man had a thick Swedish accent, little acting experience, and, at the time, a limited grasp of English. Goddard decided that he would dub over Lundgren in post-production with another actor's voice. Dolph though had stipulated in his contract that he would have three shots to re-dub himself in post-production. However, any potential fisticuffs or strong words said between director and star were not to be, due to the film falling behind schedule. Once there was no getting back on track with the intended production timing, the decision was made to use Dolph's original voice instead. And I for one rather liked He-Man's Swedish accent. It strangely worked.
1 That Re-boot Might Be Coming After All
There's been talk for the last decade that a sequel or re-boot of He-Man might be in the works. This has consistently been a tantalising tease, piquing the dreams of the He-fans only to have them cruelly dashed. All that might soon change, however, if Sony has their way. Originally, oddly named Terminator Salvation director McG was going to take on the project. This ultimately fell through and as yet no director or star is attached to the project. But there is a screen writer, David S Goyer. The man responsible for The Dark Knight, Man of Steel and for killing off an entire successful superhero franchise with his directorial debut, Blade Trinity. We won't have long to find out if this re-boot happens though, as its release date has been scheduled for December 18th 2019.