If you were ever holding your breath for the new Masters of the Universe movie to be released, chances are you probably passed out a long time ago. The rights were in Warner Bros’ hands for a long time before the studio finally gave up on the project altogether. The film was later picked up by Sony Columbia Pictures, and Predators screenwriters Mike Finch and Alex Litvak were hired to write a new script. Now, almost three years later, they’re apparently still writing it.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon Chu was brought on last summer to direct the film, presumably because his experience adapting a 1980s Hasbro toy line to the big screen made him a top candidate for adapting a 1980s Mattel toy line (plus, he’s already proved himself a hit with the kids by directing Justin Bieber documentary Never Say Never). Chu spoke about Masters of the Universe very recently, explaining that he and the writers are currently “experimenting” and are planning to “throw out all the things that don’t work – which is most of it.”
In another interview, this time with Topless Robot, Chu has expanded a little on the direction that the experimentation is taking them. Since Chu spent the end of last year completing post-production for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and more recently doing press tours for that film, it sounds like his involvement in Masters of the Universe is only just getting underway:
“We’re still in the beginning stages, designing a ton, and this is sort of the most fun phase because we get to do a bunch of different designs of the world and the costumes and make a lot of mistakes, as much as we can so we know where we shouldn’t go and where we should be headed in terms of the tone and the look of the movie.”
This is much the same as what we’ve heard before, but when pressed to give a more clear picture of what the script currently looks like, Chu explained that he already has a good idea of what they will and won’t be doing with the tone.
“We’re going for slightly more serious. And I wouldn’t say ‘serious’ as a dark tone, you don’t necessarily want ‘He-Man’ to be [dark], but it’s not campy. We’re not going campy. It’s sort of an origin story of how He-Man came to be, and to me that gives you a lot of opportunity to create real culture in this world. What is Eternia really like, what are the cultures, what are the languages they’re speaking, what are Snake Men, what are Beast Men, what are all these things, and how do they exist in this world?
“So we’re taking a real look at creating life on this planet, on this world, that hopefully will translate. And again, we’re in a very early designing phase of it, the script is great, but we’re still very early at figuring out exactly how theatrical we go, and how real we go, and how dark we can take it.”
From the way he describes it, Chu might be trying to go in the same direction as Avatar - giving the ecology and society of Eternia the same level of detail that James Cameron gave to Pandora. He also avoided answering whether or not Prince Adam and He-Man would be played by different actors, which could mean that Prince Adam won’t exist in the reboot, and the film will instead be based on the original mini-comics that came with the toys.
The original stories (which can be read over at He-Man.org) had a somewhat more serious tone compared to the later Filmation cartoon, so there’s a chance that Finch and Litvak have gone right back to He-Man’s roots to find inspiration for their script.
It’s almost a shame that Chu is so adamant about the film not being “campy,” especially since he doesn’t seem to be particularly sure of anything else. Whether this conviction stems from a belief that the current Masters of the Universe fans don’t like camp – or he’s trying to attract new fans and make the film more accessible to a wider audience – there are a number of pitfalls that come with trying too hard to give the franchise a serious tone. Personally, I’d love to see $150m or so spent on making the campiest Masters of the Universe movie possible. There are enough “serious” comic book movies in theaters right now that Chu could corner the market on camp.
How do you feel about these very early indications of where Masters of the Universe is heading? Do you like the idea of a serious take on He-Man, or would you prefer a 90-minute version of this? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
We’ll let you know
when if Masters of the Universe gets a release date.