He-Man is arguably one of the most popular superhero characters outside of the DC/Marvel spectrum. Netflix is scheduled to release a new animated series on the platform on the 23rd of July. The Netflix adaptation will serve as a sequel to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe fantasy animated series. Here is a list of facts about the heroic warrior that will amaze and educate in equal measure before you watch Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
1. American toy company Mattel relinquished the opportunity to make action figures for George Lucas’s Star Wars which turned into a million dollar franchise. Eager to get into the market Mattel was looking for a hit. Employees Roger Sweet and Mark Taylor were influenced by a film released in 1982 called 'Conan the Barbarian' starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones. When they tried teaming up with the film, they realized it had an adult rating so they couldn't use it to sell children's toys.
2. They came up with the idea of a sword carrying warrior whose powerful physique was influenced by the Austrian bodybuilder. Initially He-Man had three versions - as a military soldier, a spaceman and a Viking barbarian setting, but in the end, barbarian He-Man with a fantasy setting won over.
3. When Mattel spoke to Toys 'R' Us to push He-Man in their stores they had made several mini-comics to provide back-story to the characters. They had planned to insert it along with the products, but the store executives weren't impressed, claiming that their target audience were too young to read. Mattel’s marketing director came up with an impromptu idea and claimed that they were making an animated show which caught their attention.
4. Mattel turned to Hanna-Barbera with their new idea but were turned down, so they asked a smaller company called Filmation who were working on an animated sequel to "The Wizard of Oz' to produce the cartoon. What resulted was a 65-episode first season which in 1984 had nine-million viewers on an average per episode.
5. In 1985 a local TV station in Texas took the He-Man series off air which resulted in numerous complaints from viewers. To appease them they got it back on air and arranged for a Mattel-endorsed actor to show up as He-Man at the studio. Eight thousand kids showed up and there was a riot which led to He-Man leaving the premises because he was worried about his safety.
6. Since the cartoon was created to sell the toys, every time a new toy was designed Filmation had to animate it into the series. The only toy they refused to do was an attack vehicle with a sphere that could pummel anything which was called 'Ball Buster'. When it was finally renamed 'Bashasaurus' then they animated it.
7. Prince Adam, the alter-ego of He-Man did not exist at first but was written later into the comics by writer Michael Halperin. Initially Prince Adam used to transform into He-Man by running into a cave (just like Superman inside phone booths). It was only much later that the action of using the sword to transform was brought into the picture.
8. According to the canon He-Man's mother Marlena was a NASA astronaut from Earth whose spaceship crash landed on Eternia. There she met and fell in love with King Randor, eventually got married and had a child - Prince Adam. As he grows up he ends up having to defend the kingdom against Skeletor who is in fact King Randor's half-brother..
9. Just like in the DC universe where Batman never kills anyone, in the He-Man universe he doesn't mortally wound any living creature. He-Man only uses the sword to transform, remove obstacles or block attacks. He always uses it in defense and never for offense. If you have any memories otherwise, they would be from your own days of play-acting at school.
10. One of the most endearing aspects of the original show was the public service messages at the end which had a moral for the kids. Some of the most enduring ones are :
'Drugs Don’t Make Your Problems Go Away, They Just Create More'
'Remember, It’s Your Body And No-One Should Touch You In A Way You Feel Is Wrong'
'Playing Games Can Be A lot Of Fun, But Boasting When You Win Or Getting Angry When You Lose, Spoils The Fun For Everyone'
'Trees Are Living Things, And When You Respect A Tree, You Show That You Care About All Life.'
'It’s Easy To Say I Can’t Change, But The Truth Is You Can Change Almost Any Behaviour If You Really Want To'