Masters of the Universe: Revelation is many things all at once. Simultaneously being both a reboot and continuation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the 80s cartoon, this new show looks to balance humour and a light-hearted campiness with a commitment and dramatic weight to characters who are essentially modern day cultural legends. Whilst the characters do not perhaps hold the same place within the cultural space as they once did, characters such as He-Man and Skeletor are still iconic modern myths. The greatest strength of Revelation is that, although it retains the campiness of the original cartoon, it is done with full sincerity. The characters are not played for laughs as would be so easy, but treated as what they truly are: myths of Western culture.
This sincerity in Kevin Smith’s writing is without a doubt the greatest strength of this series, a large part of which is the shift of focus from He-Man and his adventures over to Teela. Where Teela was more of a secondary character in the original 80s show, she is front-and-centre as Kevin Smith’s undeniable protagonist. Voiced brilliantly by Sarah Michelle Gellar, the character taking centre stage is not simply a move predicated by a corporate desire to up their quota of female protagonists. The decision feels, as previously mentioned, incredibly sincere and genuine. The story moving forward makes most sense with her taking her space in the light and He-Man taking a back seat, and her progression over the course of the show is engaging and a fantastic vehicle from which the audience views the world.
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance is just one example from an absolutely stellar cast, each perfectly picked for their individual roles. As always, Mark Hamill is fantastic as Skeletor. He is one of the greatest living voice actors, and the timber and menace of his voice is wonderfully suited for Skeletor. With the character having long become a meme due to the aforementioned campiness of the source material, you needed a great performance to bring back a sense of danger rather than laughing at him. Mark Hamill brings that to the role in spades. Lena Headey is another highlight as Evil-Lynn. Headey has spoken about her love of all things He-Man as a kid, and that love for the franchise translates into a clear enthusiasm for the role and understanding of the tone.
Revelation is only 5 episodes long, with the following 5 set to be released in an upcoming Part 2. Many may consider five 25-minute episodes to be too short, bit it really suits the story here. There is no space for filler, with every minute dedicated towards moving the main plot forwards. Whilst the series at times struggles from minor pacing issues, this is in spite of the condensed number of episodes, not because of it. The story left me wanting more, and that was achieved in large part by not overfilling the season with any unnecessary baggage.
As brought up earlier, the characters are treated with a real sense of weight and mythos. When Adam transforms into He-Man, calling down the power of Grayskull, the moment honestly gave me chills as it lived up to the 40 years of wait since the original cartoon to which this is a spiritual sequel. This is not to say, however, that the show is all dreary seriousness, it is still full of funny moments and a great deal of levity. Teela in particular has various quips and little comments that left me chuckling, and more comedic characters such as Cringer and Orko really stand out in this area.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation is an outstanding show, undoubtedly Kevin Smith’s best outing as a writer, and possibly even as a director. It treats the characters with respect, manages multiple plot lines with ease, and take the story in a bold and exciting new direction. The character of Teela is thrust into the spotlight in this series and the combination of stellar writing and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s engaging performance means that this decision is shown to be undoubtedly the correct one. The first part of this story is a thrill from start to finish, and part 2 can’t come sooner.