‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’: The Inspiring Reason the Netflix Characters Look Totally Different

Netflix viewers get double the He-Man this year. Kevin Smith created Masters of the Universe: Revelation which updates the classic Filmation animated series of the ’80s with new detail. Another new series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, redesigned all the characters in new computer animation. Executive producers Jeff Matsuda and Rob David spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about their show. 

“Overall, it’s really important to us that we really kept the essence of the characters that we’ve always loved,” Matsuda said. “But we wanted to really give these next generation of kids a new look that they can own for thesmelves. So I think they all still retain what the characters were but we just added our veneer on it and our new look to it.”

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe leap through the air
L-R: Ork-O, Man-At-Arms, He-Man, Battle Cat, and Ram Ma’am | Netflix

Keep in mind that kids won’t just be watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. They’ll be buying the toys, too. David is also vice president of creative content for Mattel Television.

“Mattel is both a story company and then a toy company,” David said. “The good news is, it’s totally organic with this property. When Jeff is diving in with his pencil, we’re sitting there talking, we never think where’s the Kung Fu grip? What is going to be the toy play? We just lean in organically to what makes for something that kicks butt that we’d want to see and works well for this show and the series and then sure enough, it align with the great fun play patterns that Mattel is known for.”

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe takes its time revealing how each character becomes the action figure. That goes not only for Prince Adam transforming into He-Man, but Duncan eventually becoming Man-At-Arms and Teela becoming He-Man’s right hand woman. Once they gain their powers, their armor may look a bit more recognizable. 

Masters of the Universe: Prince Adam, Cringer, Duncan and Teela look over the mountain
L-R: Teela, Adam, Cringer, and Duncan | Netflix

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“Kids today for sure don’t want instant heroes,” David said. “They like characters that they can see as having challenges, basically starting off as white belts and then progressing all the way up to black belts. We wanted to then also define what it means to be a Master of the Universe. For the first time, in some ways, that term has been used in different ways over the years. Sometimes it’s been a team concept, sometimes not but then trying to actually give it a core definition that could apply to these characters uniquely.”

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe added a new development to the mythology. Adam not only claims the Power of Grayskull, but now he shares it. He turns his friends into his magic powered team. 

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe stand at the doorway to Castle Grayskull
L-R: Man-At-Arms, Ram Ma’am, He-Man, Battle Cat, and Sorceress | Netflix

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“Each of them are on this journey of self-discovery,” David said. “So the important thing then is to say okay, what do they look like when we first meet them? What do they look like in their base mode? Then how do we show them unlocking their true potential and leveling up? And then how do we show them leveling up on the process? So I think especially on that core group of kids, you’ll see a distinction between what they are in their base modes and what they are on their Master mode as we say and then where they are in the start of the series even as heroes and where they’ll be at the end of the show.” 

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe premieres Sept. 16 on Netflix. We’ll have more with David and Matsuda here on Showbiz Cheat Sheet.