Masters of The Universe: Revelation has arrived on Netflix and the Rotten Tomatoes verdict is such a polar opposite affair that it is almost like He-Man and Skeletor themselves. In an unheard of occurrence, it is the critics that have been leaving a glowing series of reviews to the tune of a 97% approval rating, while an absolute onslaught of bad audience reviews has left the show with an almost knock-out blow of 42%, seemingly coming mostly from fans of the original ’80s cartoon. What could possibly have caused such a backlash on what appeared to be the great continuation of the He-Man story from a man who seemed to be well on board with what fans expected? In a word: Teela.
While creator Kevin Smith, who has taken as much of a personal bashing as Master of the Universe: Revelation itself, proclaimed in interview after interview that this was definitely a He-Man show, a continuation of the storyline from the original series, and in no way was he about to make it into “The Teela Show”, it seems that he may have been a little loose with the truth as far as many fans are concerned. While others have claimed that the “dudebros are being pissy”with their favorite masculine hero being forced to share a lot of screen time with Teela, there is seemingly an equal argument from both sides coming from those who have seen the first episodes.
“I think people are rightfully upset that a show marketed as HE-MAN sidelines HE-MAN and Skeletor… you know the most iconic characters who everyone loves the show isn’t even about he man yet it’s called he man,” said one Twitter user. Another user went even further, calling out Kevin Smith as a complete liar when it came to the marketing of the show, writing, “Look, Kevin said it was just like the original. He also said Heman wasn’t sidelined. He lied about the whole thing. So yea people are a little upset. “It’s just like the show you remember” But it’s not. Thats the facts and it’s the Bottom line.”
The original series was titled He-Man and The Masters of The Universe, whereas the new series drops the He-Man name. In this way, Smith has effectively taken away all those shouts of “but this is called He-man” because it simply isn’t. However, what cannot be denied is that Smith has spent the best part of the last month claiming time and time again that this was a continuation of He-Man’s story. Perhaps it is just a matter of perspective? Anyone who actually watched the original knows that while He-Man and Skeletor were dominant in the series, Teela did occasionally have episodes that were mostly about her character, the same as Orko. Perhaps if Smith had managed to keep at least the first couple of episodes focused on Eternia’s muscle, then the outrage may not have been quite so loud.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the comments were equally as scathing. Matthew S blasted, “Imagine going to first spiderman movie and it was about aunt may and her quest to find a new uncle Ben, while Peter parker is weak nerd most of the movie and barely see the villain and hero battle…this is what he man did..took a property and used it to trojan horse sneak in a Teela series.” Another added a comment that resonates with a lot of reboots in, “Why make something where you kill the main in both episode 1 and 5. This wasn’t what fans wanted. Just make something original if you’re not going to use the main character or main villain.”
However one rant in particular summed up the consensus of hate against the series with, “In the age of reboots I’ve watched plenty that failed to understand the source material, others that were there in spirit but failed to tell a good or entertaining story, and others that were just plain awful. Masters of the Universe: Revelation is by far the worst of them. It fails in every way, a lazy insult to fans of the franchise. I know “bait and switch” is an oft overused phrase when it comes to the casual critiquing of media, but seriously, if there was ever a reboot deserving that criticism it is this show. A real shame. If I could rate this zero stars I would.”
Having already seen so-so reboots like Duck Tales, abominations like Thundercats Roar! and the drastically altered She-Ra, it seems that there is an inevitability about modern reboots which seem to want to make so many changes to older franchises that they lose sight of what made them popular in the first place. As Kevin Smith is finding out, it is one thing to reimagine a much loved property, but it is never going to please those expecting something different.