The long-planned Masters of the Universe film has finally found itself a home. Columbia Pictures is now looking to pick up the embattled Mattel Toys franchise and should now move forward with the project.
He-Man may be the hero of Eternia, but lately, he hasn't been treated as such. After two years in developmental purgatory, and being cancelled more times than Scrubs, the film was recently abandoned by Warner Bros. Originally attached to direct, was John Stevenson, who while best known as a director of animated features, such as the recent Kung-Fu Panda, also had design roots with artistic credits on the sets of 80's fantasy classics like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. While it is still unknown what the main point of contention was for Warner, many have speculated that the vision of the film in which Stevenson was to direct may not have met eye-to-eye with theirs.
With Columbia holding the property, it appears that Stevenson will be out of the picture (which had been tentatively titled Grayskull,) and the film itself will be restarted from the ground up. Not knowing Stevenson's vision for the film, it's difficult to gauge whether this was a good or bad revelation. The Masters of the Universe franchise has certainly known its share of silliness and ill-conceived reboot attempts over the years. (Although, the sparsely-promoted 2002 animated revival was pretty good.) Stevenson's resume as a director did not seem to point to this being the serious project that is likely needed for this film revival.
Masters of the Universe, in its original comic incarnations (and not Filmation's silly cartoon or the kiddie stuff Marvel put out under its Star banner) has always projected a unique atmosphere that mixed the "swords and sorcery" aspect with futuristic technology into a somewhat mythical backdrop that would lend itself well on the big screen. (An atmosphere that the 1987 film took too far in the technology department.) This doesn't have to be dark, brooding, and serious, but rather, should have a mythical narrative overtone in a similar style that John Milius used in the first Conan film. Technology and wizardry could mix quite well into creating a kind of world never before seen in film. If Columbia is willing to be that ambitious, I think it would pay off hugely.
On a sidenote: How badly does Mattel want to pump out He-Man toys again? Coupled with the Barbie project, you can just hear the drool hitting the floor.