Kevin Smith has retaliated against a vocal group of fans who have been harshly criticizing and bombing his Netflix He-Man sequel series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
Fans of the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-85) have criticized the successor series for murdering off its eponymous character in the first episode, allowing side-figure Teela to take over and effectively become the new series’ protagonist.
Fans are enraged by the creative choice, claiming they were deceived by the new show’s promotion, which promised a He-Man-centric series while obscuring Teela’s position as protagonist.
As a result, social media is flooded with complaints that Smith has turned He-Man “woke,” while opportunistic YouTubers pretend to be offended by the show’s increased emphasis on diversity, making the conversation more poisonous.
Smith responded to the criticism with a flippant remark, telling Variety:
“I know there are some who say, ‘Hey, man, this show is woke.’ Okay, fantastic, so was the original cartoon we’re f**king sequel-izing, right? Go back and watch it again. Every episode has a female character. “Take care of it.”
The familiar debate marks the return of a seemingly never-ending cycle in which a beloved older franchise is rebooted and given a progressive polish more in tune with today’s sensibilities, infuriating an extremely online segment of the fanbase who frequently feel betrayed, disappointed, or even pushed away by the shift in focus.
We’ve seen this scenario before, most notably in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the Ghostbusters remake, in which the most venomous, vile comments drown out any legitimate concerns fans may have, and the discussion devolves into a raging cultural war.
In reality, when Netflix relaunched the spin-off series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, featuring He-twin Man’s sister, for a contemporary audience, the He-Man brand has previously faced a similar issue. Surprisingly, a tiny (but vociferous) portion of the fandom disliked She-new Ra’s character design, claiming that it wasn’t sexual enough for their tastes.
The fact that the new show was clearly targeted at young girls rather than middle-aged males finding comfort in pleasant childhood memories and early hormonal stirrings didn’t seem to dampen the venom.
The popularity of the She-Ra relaunch, ironically, is said to have inspired the choice to concentrate the new He-Man series on Teela. But it doesn’t rule out He-Man; enraged fans who believe this series signals the end of the character’s supremacy in the franchise should hold off on getting upset until the inevitable narrative surprise occurs.
Only the first five episodes of Masters of the Universe: Revelation have been published on Netflix so far, with the second half of the season yet to come. Despite He-(and Man’s his alter-ego, Prince Adam’s) devastating defeat, the series is obviously preparing the character for a victorious return.
Rob David, Mattel Television’s vice president of programming creative, virtually confirms this with his remarks on the backlash:
“The Empire Strikes Back” and ‘The Wrath of Khan’ are two of David’s favorite films. “The hero is severely injured, and the story then revolves around how he recovers and becomes better and stronger than before. By removing all of the creature comforts that the hero took for granted, the hero discovers what really makes them strong on the inside, which they must then restore. We believed that by having an unexpected character [Teela] embark on that trip in real time with the viewer, we’d be able to really strike exactly how significant He-Man and those concepts are.”
However, context is irrelevant; content producers have already created a narrative out of the issue, screaming about the dictatorial tendencies of “SJWs” and the fictitious extinction of strong male heroes.
Netflix, on the other hand, must be reaping the benefits of the uproar—all of that online vitriol may be irritating for fans who simply want to watch the program, but it converts to free promotion for Masters of the Universe: Revelation.