Just wrapping up Masters of the Universe and looking at the reviews to see the score so low? That’s what we did and we weren’t completely surprised as the controversy for the series has been bubbling for weeks if not years even. What’s the controversy surrounding Netflix’s new Masters of the Universe series? Let’s bring you up to speed.
Released on Netflix on July 23rd, Masters of the Universe: Revelation picks up where the Mattel series from the 1980s left off complete with a new but familiar art style courtesy of Powerhouse Animation Studios.
It adds to Netflix’s She-Ra series which debuted last year and ran for 5 seasons. The franchise is also getting a live-action film courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
What are the review scores for Masters of the Universe?
While critic scores have been overall very kind for the series (it carries a certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), there couldn’t be a bigger divide with fan opinion.
On RottenTomatoes as of July 24th, the series carries a 27% on RottenTomatoes, a 5.0 on IMDb (although IMDb is slow to index votes), and a 2.5 on Metacritic’s user scores (70 from critics).
Indeed, social media and YouTube is also filled with bad reviews for the series.
So what went wrong?
What’s the controversy for Masters of the Universe: Revelation?
Now it’s impossible to go into much detail on the controversy without delving into spoilers. So this is your first and final warning, if you want to watch the series spoiler-free – click away now.
The controversy actually didn’t begin on the day of release.
For a couple of years since the announcement of the series, scripts have leaked and rumors had been circling that He-Man had been sidelined in the series in favor of Teela.
At the time, Kevin Smith was quick to swat these rumors down however now the finished project is available for all, the concerns raised back then are certainly back at the forefront.
As showrunner, I really could’ve used these story suggestions *before* we locked the scripts. However, no – He-Man does no stepping aside and Teela has no girlfriend in our show. The storyline is pretty dark and way metal. Before REVELATION we were calling it END OF THE UNIVERSE. https://t.co/0y5TlhjctC
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) March 11, 2020
Kevin Smith also followed up later in 2020 with the following:
“While Teela is as present as she’s always been in the MotU adventures and she plays a big role, our series is LITERALLY all about He-Man.”
A picture leaked from Power-con, however, revealed that the series would mainly focus on Teela. Right up until release this was a controversy bubbling under from a vocal but small group.
So let’s now recap the series. Only 5 episodes dropped as part of part 1 and He-Man while present in the first episode is not seen again until episode 5.
In episode 1, He-Man sacrificed himself in order to save Eternia. From episode 2 onwards, the focus shifted to Teela attempting to save the fate of the universe with new threats in the world and magic all but gone.
Of course, He-Man and Adam do feature again throughout the series typically in flashbacks at the beginning of each episode. To add insult to injury when He-Man returns in the final episode, he’s murdered by Skeletor and it seems, for good this time.
It seems most of the reviews we’ve read have squarely focused on the fact that He-Man was not present in the series and it focused entirely on Teela’s adventure. Many also feel that He-Man was “emasculated” throughout the series and many reviews compare the “betrayal” to the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
We should absolutely note that not all fan reaction to the series has been bad. In fact, there are countless good reviews that we’ve read that praise the art direction, music, and action sequences.
Beyond individuals’ opinions, discourse on the show online is pretty toxic and hostile. On the one side, you have fans shouting “woke rubbish” and the other shouting back calling them “incels”. Therefore, you won’t find much productive debate on the subject.
Was the marketing for Masters of the Universe: Revelation misleading?
A lot of people refer to marketing as misleading. After all, He-Man features prominently in the trailer (see above) and all promotional material. Many reviews we read referred to the marketing campaign as a “bait and switch”.
This is not the first time that marketing is to blame but ultimately, had the marketing department taken a different tact, it’d have been spoiled very early on of the fate of He-Man.
This also applies to Kevin Smith in a sense. There are many documented cases of creators twisting or denying elements of their titles in order to keep the story secret. However, that will lead to situations like now where Kevin Smith is labeled a liar.
A similar controversy was seen in this manner last year with the release of The Last of Us Part 2 which is a video game released by Naughty Dog. Many fans back then also complained that (spoiler alert again!) that Joel was featured prominently in all marketing material only to be killed early on.
So where do we land here? It seems that season 2 of Masters of the Universe: Revelation is already teed up so ultimately, not much of this matters. It will be interesting to see how reaction actually influences the show going forward (if at all).
What did you think of Masters of the Universe: Revelation? Let us know in the comments.