It seems that the long-rumored live-action Masters of the Universe project is moving forward. Now referred to simply as Grayskull, Warner Bros. has cleared the air a bit on exactly what they are cooking up. While not much is known about writer/director Evan Daugherty, other than a thin-resume, Warner has brought him on board to pen the screenplay after making the right connections in a low-profile screenwriting contest. With John Stevenson (Kung-Fu Panda) on board to direct, it will be interesting to see what this (seemingly unlikely) creative team has in store for He-Man and the gang.
Masters of the Universe, is (of course) a hugely popular toy and cartoon franchise from the 1980's. Starting with a basic toy line in 1982, the story followed He-Man, a "Conan-like" warrior on an alien planet called Eternia, that is mixed with sorcery and technology. It soon evolved into a cartoon series in which He-Man was the alter-ego of a "Clark Kent-like" young Prince named Adam. Imbued with the magic of the mystical Castle Grayskull, whenever trouble was afoot, Adam would simply raise his famous power sword and utter words that were ubiquitous during the 80's: "By the power of Grayskull!--I have the power!" After which, he would turn into the mega-powerful He-Man and pretty much destroy anything or anyone in his path. His trusty steed Battle Cat, and pals such as weapons expert Man-At-Arms, would-be romantic interest Teela, miniature floating wizard Orko, and a plethora of others, will likely be on board to help him dominate the evil forces of the villainous Skeletor with extreme prejudice.
The Hollywood Reporter provided a brief description of the adaptation:
"Warners sees the big-screen version as a gritty fantasy and reimagines Adam as a soldier who sets off to find his destiny, happening upon the magical world of Eternia. There, Skeletor has raised a technological army and is bent on eradicating magic."
There is no doubt that the words "Dolph" and "Lundgren" have become a long-running punchline when it comes to even loose discussions of Masters of the Universe. While that is not without merit, the 1987 film was actually a complete mess for reasons that were not completely his fault. Instead of even trying to adapt the source material, they turned it into some weird "fish out of water" story about two teenagers in "our world" (played by a post-"Dancing in the Dark" -- pre-Friends Courtney Cox and future Star Trek Voyager star, Robert Duncan McNeil) who help He-Man and his gang, who have been stranded on our world. Meanwhile, the style of the film was completely out of place, as it went too far in a futuristic, pseudo-Star Wars direction. The film ended up being a poorly-executed amalgam of MOTU, Star Wars, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
What was the point in covering the 1987 film? Because it should serve as a handy, comprehensive guide in deciding what NOT to do. If they are going to do Masters of the Universe, then they should actually DO IT! Don't even try to turn it into anyone's story besides He-Man's. While the MOTU story has always had the presence of bizarre technology, I hope they don't emphasize on that aspect too much. The crux of the story's spirit lies in the aspect of the "wizards and warriors," mystical aspects. The 1987 film went WAY too far with the technological aspects, that it no longer resembled anything. Aside from the horrific premise, the film might have been "okay" with Dolph Lundgren if they had just stayed somewhat true to the source material. Hopefully there will not be any more misguided attempts to reinvent the wheel.
I'm actually pretty stoked to see what this creative team has in store for He-Man.