He-Man has been fighting evil since the early ‘80s, and he’s not done quite yet. From the original mini comics through multiple TV series and a movie, He-Man has rarely been off screen for more than a few years. Now, he’s back in live-action courtesy of Sony, who have announced an upcoming Masters of the Universe film.
We don’t know much about the project as of yet, although they have released a logo, cast at least one role (bodybuilder Mike O’Hearn in an unnamed role) and there are rumors that McG (Terminator: Salvation, Charlie’s Angels) will be directing. And given that there’s hasn’t been much news on it lately, it might be stuck in developmental hell. Nevertheless, we’re excited, and we think it would be a great idea, if Sony ever gets around to making it.
Now That we’ve already done a list on He-Man’s greatest enemy, Skeletor, here are 12 Things You Didn’t Know About He-Man.
12. The He-Man Franchise Made Over 2 Billion
He-Man was intensely popular for most of the ‘80s, but the franchise tanked by the end of the decade. Many people theorized that there was just too much competition after that point, although the poor response to the live action film may have also played a part. (Released in 1987, the company hoped that the film would boost sales, but it was a flop. The production company went out of business before a sequel could be produced.)
However, the franchise managed to do incredibly well in that short span, with Roger Sweet (one of the lead designers) estimating that they made around two billion dollars at the height of He-Man’s popularity.
11. There Is More Than One Version of He-Man
As well as the differences between the original mini-comics and the Masters of the Universe animated series, there are two further sets of He-Man characters: from the 1990s New Adventures of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reboot in 2002. The New Adventures of He-Man took place on the planet of Primus, and added a huge range of minor characters to the franchise.
The Masters of the Universe reboot, however, was a return to the original series in many ways. He-Man himself was largely unchanged, although he became a little younger and brasher in the new version. Adam also changed little, although he did become more markedly different to his He-Man persona, with more made of the secret identity aspect. Many of the other major characters are only slightly different from their originals, with more modern artwork and younger ages to appear more relatable to kids.
10. There Is A He-Man Non-Profit
In 2010, a non-profit was founded in He-Man’s honor, named The Power and The Honor Foundation. The Foundation is a fan-run organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of He-Man, through collecting and cataloguing He-Man and She-Ra artworks. They take donations from fans for a digital archive project, intended to preserve and share the history of He-Man art.
They printed one catalogue, and intended to make more available digitally for fans. Sadly, the foundation didn’t get that far, and the original catalogue is no longer in print. They do, however, make appearances at conventions and are still actively continuing their work.
9. He-Man Began As A Toy
Unlike many action figures that are created as merchandise for cartoons, the first He-Man cartoon (and the original mini-comics) were created to help sell more toys. The line of He-Man toys were first released in 1982, while the series began in 1983, after the toys were already a success.
Although the cartoon was created to help sell more toys, they soon developed more of a creative back-and-forth when the series took off. Characters began to appear on the show first, getting toys after their on-screen popularity was established. Orko was created as comic relief for the cartoon, with a toy quickly following, while Evilseed appeared in the ‘80s but didn’t get a toy until 2015.
8. He-Man Had A Different Backstory At First
He-Man has evolved a lot over the years, and his first backstory is very different to the one that kids know and love from Masters of the Universe. He-Man was introduced to kids through a series of mini-comics that were sold with the toys, and that explained his adventures. He didn’t have a secret identity, but was He-Man 100% of the time. He also wasn’t royal, but was just one of the barbarians of the tribe of Eternia. The plot was simpler and the dialogue a little more stilted, as He-Man attempted to defend his castle using weaponry left behind by an advanced civilization.
One of the biggest changes, however, was that Skeletor and He-Man weren’t always enemies. Although the two spent much of the comics at odds, they also teamed up when there was a common enemy. The two each had one half of a power sword, and these could be joined together to create the true Power Sword (which was reflected in the early toys, which had swords that joined together).
7. He-Man Is Not Based On Conan
The toy line was released the same year as the live-action film Conan the Barbarian, and many believed that the toy-line was a Conan rip-off. The two characters were both big buff men who spent most of their time shirtless (the better to show off their rippling muscles, presumably), and both movie and toy appeared in 1982. The similarities were so strong that Conan Properties (who owned the rights to Conan) sued Mattel for copyright infringement.
However, Mattel won the case, as their He-Man line was conceptualized before the film released. They claim that although he is very similar to Conan, he is actually based on Vikings, Cro-magnon man, and other barbarian fantasy artwork.
6. Prince Adam Didn’t Appear In The Movie
He-Man, like most superheroes, had a dual identity. When he was using the Power Sword, he became He-Man, but otherwise he was Prince Adam. Prince Adam looked almost identical to He-Man, but had slightly darker hair and a different look. This secret identity concept wasn’t part of the original toy line or mini-comics, as his original character was a more straightforward barbarian.
Although Prince Adam was canon in the animated series, when the franchise was turned into a live action film in 1987 (Masters of the Universe), Prince Adam didn’t make an appearance. However, there were plans at one point to make a sequel where Adam would appear as a pro-quarterback.
5. You Probably Know The Writers From Comic Book Series/Movies
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a springboard for the writers’ careers, with at least two of the creators going on to headline their own TV series and films.
Paul Dini, who worked on eleven episodes of the series went on to become a series writer for Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Superman, Batman Beyond, and many more well-known comic book cartoons. J. Michael Strazcynski got his start on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, but you may now know him from his work on blockbusters such as Thor, Babylon 5 and World War Z.
4. He-Man’s Original Voice Wasn’t “Heroic” Enough
In the 1983 cartoon, He-Man and Prince Adam were voiced by John Erwin. He did an incredible job of voicing the action hero, with many considering him the most recognizable version of the character. One of the things that he did best was differentiating between the voices of He-Man and Prince Adam. However, he was concerned that his voice wasn’t “heroic” enough for He-Man. He asked that reverb be added to his He-Man lines to make them more powerful for the hero.
3. He-Man Exists Because of Star Wars
In 1976, ahead of the release of Star Wars, Mattel was offered the opportunity to create action figures for the film. However, they turned it down because the licensing would have cost the toy giant $75,000 (a huge amount at the time, especially for a new franchise). As we all know, Star Wars became one of the biggest-earning franchises ever, and Mattel obviously were left kicking themselves at the loss.
2. Skeletor is He-Man’s Uncle
Everybody knows Skeletor, the yellow-skulled bad guy who wore a ragged cloak and never managed to defeat He-Man. He was known as the apprentice to Hordak, who stormed the castle of Eternia in a bid to take over from the Royal family. However, few people also realize that Skeletor has a backstory that makes him a member of the royal family of Eternia.
In the tie-in comic The Search For Keldor, we learn that King Randor has a long-lost brother, Keldor. This brother was also a practitioner of magic, but was sent to another dimension when one of his spells went wrong (possibly the spell that cost him his face). In various different continuities, Keldor returned as Skeletor, or was combined with a demon called Demo-Man to become Skeletor. Whichever version you prefer, Skeletor is either the brother or half-brother to King Randor, making He-Man’s arch enemy also his uncle.
1. He-Man Has Fought Superman
He-Man has appeared in several DC comics, including alongside Superman. In the 1982 DC Comics Presents #47, Superman appeared in Eternia alongside the rest of the Masters of the Universe. From Eternia With Death found Supes magically controlled by Skeletor, battling He-Man for Castle Greyskull. Superman won (although not by much of a margin), but he was also freed from Skeletor’s control and teamed up with He-Man to win the day.
More recently, He-Man appeared alongside the Justice League Dark in DC Universe Vs The Masters of the Universe (2013). In this special, Skeletor came to Earth to try and steal magic, and John Constantine and Madame Xanadu team up with He-Man to stop him.
Is there anything else about He-Man that fans should know? Let us know in the comments!