Director Jon Chu Talks ‘He-Man: Masters of the Universe’ & ‘G.I. Joe 2′ 3D Conversion

Published 2 years ago by , Updated October 28th, 2012 at 7:18 pm,

Masters of the Universe Jon Chu Director Jon Chu Talks He Man: Masters of the Universe & G.I. Joe 2 3D Conversion

Following a pair of box office successes with Step Up 3D and the Justin Bieber concert film, Never Say Never, Paramount tapped Jon Chu to direct their G.I. Joe follow-up, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. At the time Chu might not have seemed like an obvious pick and our coverage speculated that the director could have been moved up the list because the studio was interested in shooting their toy-to-movie sequel in 3D. However, as filming started it was made clear that G.I. Joe 2 would not be a 3D venture – only to find out later on that Paramount intended to reshoot the film and, at the same time, add a 3D post-conversion.

Chu was reportedly “shellshocked” by the news but now, months later, the director is opening up about the 3D add-on as well as his next in-development project, another 1980s toy line-turned film, He-Man aka Masters of the Universe.

Chu recently spoke with MTV Geek about his past and future movies, including his YouTube passion project, “The League of Extraordinary Dancers” (check out his Super Ballet video), crediting his theory that “dance helps action” as the reason he landed the G.I. Joe: Retaliation gig:

I brought out some of the LXD episodes and showed them. You get some hints of how the camera moves, the choreography of the frame itself matches what’s in the frame. That was my reel to get the job, and they were like, “Okay, we get it” [...] In a weird way, doing the online dance videos that everyone thought was crazy at first helped me get G.I. Joe,” said Chu. “It’s nice to bring it home.

Now that G.I. Joe: Retaliation has been delayed, it’d be interesting to know whether the producers still agree with Chu’s action filmmaking philosophy. Though, the director is quick to downplay the “shock” he was reported to have experienced several months back when the film was bumped out of its summer time slot – claiming that, given his experience with 3D before, the first cut of G.I. Joe: Retaliation already contained a lot of opportunities for cool 3D:

I really want to push how we use the 3D [...] I shot two 3D movies. So being around that, I know what we are actually capable of doing [...] Fortunately, a lot of our shots, I guess it was in my brain anyway. We had a lot of depth in our shots, or let our shots play longer. For me, if we’re going to do this, we have to make sure it enhances the experience. That’s where we are right now, and it’s a slow painful process, to be honest!

I’m trying to convince them to give me a couple days to do a couple of enhancements. But as of right now, we’ll see what they let me do. I really want to shoot some of the sections in 3D to give it that edge… But we’ll see if time permits, and they’re down to do that.

gi joe retaliation Director Jon Chu Talks He Man: Masters of the Universe & G.I. Joe 2 3D Conversion

To Chu’s point about his 3D instincts, the G.I. Joe: Retaliation production has been an outright bizarre endeavor to follow. As mentioned, the producers hired a filmmaker, best known for smart use of 3D in dance/music films, to shoot a 2D movie – only to later ask that director to oversee 2D reshoots and a 3D post-conversion, as well as add more Channing Tatum. While moviegoers would, no doubt, have accused Paramount of a 3D cashgrab when the project was originally announced – at least the final film could have benefited from Chu’s 3D knowledge during shooting: instead of attempting to make use of his expertise in post. Understandably, film production is a fluid experience but, given the positive response to first full length G.I. Joe: Retaliation trailer, it’s hard to ignore that the problem behind the G.I. Joe 2 delay might not be Chu but a studio that didn’t have a clear idea about what film they wanted to release.

That said, the trouble around Retaliation certainly didn’t help Chu when it was announced that he’d be helming Sony’s attempt to resurrect He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for the big screen. Even though former He-Man, and Expendables star, Dolph Lundgren, has expressed excitement about the reboot, not to mention interest in jumping back into Eternia (this time as King Randor), plenty of fans have been less enthusiastic.

However, the director asserts that he doesn’t intend to let fans down and, while they’re very early on in the process, the key to Masters of the Universe is finding the right tone:

We’re working on the script, to make it better and stronger. We’re designing a bunch of stuff. I learned on Joe that to make it right, you have to do a lot of experimenting first, and you have to trust that during the process you’ll find where the tonal line is… It’s so delicate. Masters of the Universe means so much to a lot of people out there – and myself as well. I don’t want to disappoint my friends! We all grew up with Masters, played with the toys… I had a Castle Grayskull, played with the toys, I had a Battle Cat. We’re just designing now, going too far on some things, pulling back on others… Making it more real, or more fantastic. We’re trying to find that line as we go.

he man masters universe Director Jon Chu Talks He Man: Masters of the Universe & G.I. Joe 2 3D Conversion

Finding the right tone in a He-Man film is going to be significantly more difficult than the “down and dirty” approach that Chu took with G.I. Joe – considering the latter is essentially a military story whereas Masters of the Universe includes loads of beastly villains, supernatural heroes, and downright campy companions (such as the Trollan court magician, Orko). Nevertheless, if Chu can find a smart balance with the property, there’s plenty of action-adventure potential for He-Man veterans and newcomers alike, not to mention tremendous franchise potential (and toy sales for Mattel). Who wouldn’t want to see He-Man and Battle Cat (along with Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Stratos) storm Snake Mountain and take on the Evil Horde?

A lot of people ask, who are you going to cast? We’re not even there yet, we’re just trying to get the character of the movie down. This is one of the most fun parts, where all the possibilities are open, and we’re just playing in the sandbox [...] Right now, I’m just soaking it all in. Learning, watching, listening, reading a lot. Any blogs that are out there, or people who have opinions. I’m just soaking it in, and feeling what the environment is in this world. I know what I personally feel about Masters, but there is something to be said for experiencing what other people experience in the world.

Given that Chu is taking a lot of lessons learned on G.I. Joe 2 into Masters of the Universe, the director also gave a brief tease about whether or not we might see He-Man take-on Skeletor in 3D?

It’s not always my choice! I love 3-D, and for certain movies it can be really great, and for certain movies it can be poison. As we figure out the character of the movie, I think we’ll have a better feel for it. Of course, I love 3D – a movie like Masters in 3D would be amazing… To be in that world would be a crazy, crazy experience. We’ll see what Sony decides.

Of course, Sony is not typically shy when it comes to 3D filmmaking (releasing Men in Black 3The Amazing Spider-Man, and Total Recall in 3D during the summer of 2012 alone). Plus, seeing Eternia and all of its crazy locales, heroes, and villains in 3D would be pretty impressive, especially given Chu’s experience with the format, so a 3D Masters of the Universe is probably a no-brainer for the studio. Let’s just hope that Sony has learned from Paramount’s mistake and gives Chu everything he needs out the gate to make a jaw-dropping He-Man movie.


Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Masters of the Universe, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is now positioned to hit theaters (in 2D and 3D) around the U.S. on March 29th, 2013.

The Masters of the Universe reboot does not yet have a release date.

Source: MTV

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  1. Oh jeebus, a He-Man movie? Really??

    Okay… but only if you make it as homoerotic as the cartoon was ;)

  2. I was wondering whatever happened to G.I Joe 2. That movie never end up coming out in June lol

  3. I know they can make Skeletor look much better today as they made Red Skull look great. As for the film itself, thats a different story. I can only think of Chris Hemsworth as He-Man. Liam Hemsworth imo, would make a a better Duke in the G I Joe sequel than Channing Tatum after seeing him in Expendables 2. When i think of He-Man, i think of the 80′s cartoon i grew up with. I hated Masters Of The Universe film. I felt sorry for Lundgren for being in that role. Can’t imagine a reboot turning out well. They should get Chis Nolan on it.

    • Hell no!!! Keep Nolan the F@$# away from He-man, my gods he would butcher that. The last thing we need is a dark and gritty, realistic He-man.

  4. I’d like to see a He-Man film set in Prince Adams home world, rather than Earth, or any merging of the two like in the original movie (or say Thor).

    Then we can get all the craziness without it seeming too ludicrous. I remember being obsessed with a little toy Orko with wind-up wheels on the bottom, would be fun to see him in there. I’d probably part with the money for a ticket just to see a live action version of Battlecat on screen using modern effects.

  5. He’s making the script “better and stronger” you guys! This sounds like a man with deep knowledge of story!

  6. DC reboot MOTU this past July and started a great storyline in which Skeletor some how won and cast some sort of spell on Adam/He-Man and Teela and the others, wiping their memories of who they were. It’s been a great read thus far.

    I sorta hope they do something like that. The 2002/2003 MOTU animated series was really well done and is my absolute favorite so I know it can be done right and Chu seems to be on the right track, especially if he owned the toys and played because that means he has an attachment and passion for the characters which always helps.

    I’m starting to think Chu might be the go to guy for these types of movies…depending on how GI Joe 2 is but it looks awesome thus far.

  7. Looking forward to Masters of The Universe, hope to see the chilling looking villains Trapjaws,Merman,Triclops,Beastman and the other lot.

  8. Though I’m not a he-man fan judging by the pictures I’d say Chris Hemsworth as the lead

  9. God,seems these days everybody can make movies !
    Who is choosing these guys ???

    Grew up with Masters,and really liked the Filmation Cartoons,the 2002 Show was excellent as well,they should take people from there,not this guy !

  10. Chu says all the right things when it comes to the he-man reboot, but i still can’t get past that they chose the Justin Beiber/Step up director to helm the film. I’m pretty sure GI Joe 2 is going to suck hard despite the star power, but like the first movie and the transformer franchise just because it sucks doesn’t mean it wont rake in the money

  11. I will see what GI Joe is like and than reserve judgement, all directors have to start somewhere, usually it’s music videos and commercials, the Joe trailer looks pretty decent, don’t really see the point of it being in 3D

  12. George Lucas betrayed the loyalty of his fans with episodes 1-3. He-Man came out in the early 1980′s, so make a movie that will appeal to people in their thirties and let them make the call if the film is appropriate for their children to watch, the merchandise will sell regardless.

    What a He-Man film coming out in today’s culture would need to be a hit:

    1. Gripping drama. No cheesy, half baked story or dialogue, please. This might prove a difficult approach, but anything worth doing is worth doing right. The core theme is obviously good vs evil, and while the good is most clearly defined when it eventually triumphs … the evil must be portrayed as a dark and malevolent threat, so straying from the cartoon depiction of Skeletor as a bumbling coward would be advised. A better story would likely attract better actors as well.

    2. Epic one on one clashes. With so many creative characters on both sides, this is definitely what audiences would appreciate most. The best parts of Marvel’s the Avengers was when the superheros fought each other … I feel that such confrontations have set a new standard for these types of movies. At least four or five provocative match-ups should be in order, some of them fair, some being lopsided contests that may have fatal consequences for one or more combatants … thus satisfying my first point. If certain characters don’t make it into any potential sequels, so be it … just as long as they go out in a blaze of glory. A capable and worthy foe should be depicted for every triumphant hero, or villain for that matter… as nothing is more shocking to the audience than a fallen hero.

    3. Limited CGI. Another disappointing detail about the last three Star Wars films was that it had such an animated look compared to the original films. When fans want to see an animated picture, they will do that on their own accord. Enough with the cartoons invading motion pictures … please try to keep the CGI limited to Orko and some special effects when needed.

    4. Don’t pull any punches on the plethora of characters. There are obvious mainstays on both sides of Eternia, but there were dozens of minor characters that were rarely if ever depicted in the cartoon. Show us as many as possible, even if it’s a single line from Moss Man or Skunkor … we want to see it!
    And we definitely want to be introduced to Hordak… the power struggle with Skeletor adds character to the bad guys. Plus there were some pretty monstrous looking characters employed by Hordak. Throwing She-Ra in there for a little bonus would probably go over pretty well.

    In summary, taking a serious approach to this film is what’s called for. Just look at how far Batman has come from the days of Adam West.

    • I love all of what you had to say. Batman has only gotten stronger since the Adam West days and really matured in so many great ways. From Burton to Nolan, those films did a great job of bridging the gap between camp and serious.

      I want to add to your list:

      1. The power sword needs to be EXACTLY and I mean EXACTLY like it looks in the cartoon, none of that Conan sword BS. That original design of the sword is as iconic as a lightsaber or the Sword of Omens from the Thundercats, everyone knows it and recognizes it. It DOES NOT NEED to be tampered with or updated. It’s a great, romanticized version of a classic 80s fantasy sword.

      2. The ghost (Teela’s mom) woman with wings needs to be a strong, mature and older female lead since she’s young Prince Adam’s guide and basically shows him how to be He-Man.

      3. Battle Cat obviously will need some CGI, but I’d love to see a real tiger all suited up and running around for some scenes. I would say he totally should not talk whatsoever, but a little cowering here or there and showing an intimidated tiger would be a great throwback to the “Cringer” side of things. It would even be cool to see a real huge tiger with all that armor on, but that might classify as animal cruelty and nobody wants that. But even just to do a screen test, I’d like to see what that would look like before going totally CGI. Could be way more believable, who knows.

      4. I think the camp can be avoided. For example, as the sorceress instructs Adam on how to be He-Man, she shouldn’t be too literal about it i.e. hold the sword above your head and say I have the power. It should be a more subtle line like “hold the sword on high and claim the rightful powers of Greyskull” then He-Man could say the classic, albeit a little cheesy line, of “I have the power”. It shouldn’t be immediate either, it should really start to flow through him first and have it be a first-time recognition thing that makes him want to let her know it’s working. Any time after that first time, I don’t think it’s even necessary. I think that first initial transformation would suffice to please fans like me and also keep with reality. Is he REALLY going to say that EVERY time he transforms? Probably not. Little things like that can go a long way in grounding this movie.

      5. Casting, casting, casting. This better not be some GI JOE with, Marlon Wayans and Channing Tatum. Christ those are horrible choices and actors. As others have said, Chris Hemsworth would be an awesome He-Man, although he should get brown contacts as He-Man did not have blue eyes. The brown eyes are key and most people probably don’t think of that, but hey let’s keep it original. Man-At-Arms needs to carry great weight for an older man, almost like another father figure to Adam. Yet, someone who’s gruff enough to kick some A$$. Gotta have the stache. Again, the sorceress should be a great, mature woman actor. Maybe even Julia Roberts. Sure, she’s never really done like this before aside from Snow White, but she could be that motherly guiding presence and has the kind of red hair. Skeletor could be someone like Tom Hardy who did Bane. Jack him up real good, but great acting chops. I think this actor should be British for sure. Also, his makeup shouldn’t even show eyes, his sockets should be as black and lifeless as they are in the show. No eyes definitely make him more forboding.

      • Ian it goes “By the Power of Grayskull, I have the Power!

    • I wrote a scriptment for a He-Man reboot. It’s a shame they didn’t buy it. It includes many of the elements you and Ian mention, though I am sure it is quite different than what you imagine (it wasn’t an “origin” story, though it has some “origin” elements, e.g., finding one’s inner strength).

  13. And want the original Battle Cat Armor as opposed to the 2002 armor!

  14. If you guys want a really great MOTU story, google for the “Grayskull” script. It’s the best He-Man movie never made.

    • I disagree, I read the grayskull script and the only good part was the opening sequence. After the title sequence the story just fell apart.

  15. I hope they get this film right, He-man has everything there it really does, just getting the right script and actors, and a real good story. I think what keeps people excited is seeing great actors involved in films like this and also having new talented up incoming actors who can bring screen presence to the film.

    I think of the man of steel, its early days yet for that film with only the 1st two trailers form comic con this year, the combination Crow, Kostener, and Cavil,, it makes it very powerful,, combination,,

    we will see anyway back to He-man,, It has to stand out and it has to have a good foundation, I agree allot with the above,, it has to be a serious picture no camp! it just ruins things. Dont kill this one with CGI, only to be used when it is really needed, not to be over used, thats one that is very important, look too how the Lord of the RIngs was made, in it there was a balance of both use of traditional methods and modern methods of effect and the two complimented each other and the whole films story.

    do most of the set real, make the ships and stuff real as possible, make the story deep and searching,, and vast in its adventure. IAN I LIKE WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY ABOUT THIS FILM,,

  16. WOW, Masters of the Universe, now we`re talking, I was obsessed with He-Man when I was growing up, it has so many kick ass charactors, I loved the 80s film as well, ive still got it on vhs lol, ive been hoping they would make a new He-man soon, cant wait!!

  17. I had EVERY He-man toy. Every single one. I loved that show, I would love to see this movie. I am, however, worried. This movie is so easy to screw up. There are so many ways it could go wrong. Brad and Ian are right about a lot of things, serious is the way to go, but I also don’t want too serious. I don’t want this movie to go all Nolan style, I don’t want a dark and broody He-man. I damn sure don’t want him grounded and realistic.

  18. He-Man, like Thundercats has an incredible mythology behind it, i can’t wait to see it brought to the big screen. I also have to agree with Il Princerino, Nolan shouldn’t be aloud anywhere near this project.

    As for who should play the part of He-Man, no idea, but i don’t think Chris Hemsworth is right for the part just because he looked the part of Thor. Somebody older should play the part, and Robert de Niro should play the part of Man at Arms.

    I was well impressed with the 80′s version of Masters of the Universe, damn good effort for its time.

  19. I’m still very iffy about having Chu as director of the G.I. Joe sequel. I’m not convinced by the trailer simply looking cool. The trailer for the first G.I. Joe looked cool and looked how that turned out…

    • I totally echo what Adrian said. Masters of The Universe should — WIHOUT QUESTION — entail the same realistic feel as The Lord of The Rings. NO CGI NONSENSE! Do NOT cheapen the look and feel of this movie. Please do it right.

      It should have a darker tone to it, where Skeletor has no mercy on his enemies. Make him truly feared, so that He-Man’s victories against him seem that much more rewarding and celebratory.

      Do this, and you’ll overthrow The Avengers’ revenue records.

  20. Chris Hemsworth will be too busy making Thor and Avengers sequels. Be sure to cast someone else as Prince Adam, it never made sense that he was as big as He-Man but was a total wimp. He-Man is a good property to make these days with all of the Lord of the Rings, Vampire/Wizard/Superhero movies they have coming out now. Just don’t go all willy nilly with the casting, the characters are what they are. Change Orko though, less annoying, more essential. Remember Jar-Jar Binks when dealing with Orko. Save She-Ra for the sequel. Man-at-Arms doesn’t have to be a bodybuilder, just a gear-head. Visually, with sets and costumes, staying as close to the original look will pay of in spades.

  21. Why is the dance movie guy doing action the new Gi Joe sucks and hes gonna kill He-man too his stuff is pretty but has no heart just like the last 2 step ups I would much rather see JJ Abrams, Micheal bay, joss Whedon or Stephen sommers they are much better directors don’t let this guy direct Any more action please