He-Man, Teela, And The Masters Of The Universe: Revelation Woke Controversy Explained
Perhaps something about seeing all of our geeky favorites get a second life in this pop culture renaissance has put bugs in the brains of mostly male fans of a certain age. As this is also my age, it deeply saddens me that rather than celebrating the fact that we are getting a number of new He-Man stories in the year of Baby Grogu 2021, they are mad about nonsense ginned up the same toxic outrage grifters on YouTube that poisoned the Star Wars fandom. Today’s non-controversy is that Masters of the Universe: Revelation will sideline He-Man in favor of Teela because of some woke agenda. These masters of misogynoir love to talk about how the mere presence of women doesn’t offend them only “bad writing” and “woke storytelling.” These same ding-dongs seem to forget that foundational parts of good writing and storytelling are conflict and tension.
If by “woke” folks mean the female characters have agency, then Revelation is exactly as woke as the cartoon to which our series is a spiritual sequel: because Teela & Evil-Lyn were in every ep, fighting alongside He-Man & Skeletor. And Sorceress is more powerful than all of ‘em. https://t.co/owBQZYr172
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) June 12, 2021
The vast majority of people complaining that He-Man, Teela, and the Masters of the Universe: Revelation series are the latest casualties of the SJW woke agenda have not even seen the series yet. Small story snippets and rumors, such as He-Man will be “missing” for much of the first installment (see: Star Wars: The Force Awakens) or that Teela potentially has a woman love-interest sends their bitter nerdy hearts into palpitations.
While I loathe the gatekeeping term “real fan,” I will break my own rule here. No real fan of He-Man and the original Masters of the Universe cartoon would think focusing on Teela is the woke agenda, whatever that even is. (In my experience, it’s a pejorative term for people committed to the very values superhero and geek fantasy stories uphold, but I’ve only been a fan of those for 40 years.)
How Masters of the Universe sidelined He-Man in Favor of Teela
Maybe I am being unfair to the angry He-Fans out there. Perhaps they are not angry about the events of the Masters of the Universe: Revelation series premiere. Instead, maybe they are finally speaking up about the outrage that is the original series episode “The Monster on the Mountain.” In the entire 21-plus minutes of this episode, He-Man is on-screen for only about four of them. The rest of the episode instead focuses on Teela guiding Prince Adam through an adventure to find the monster known as the “Tingler.” (Don’t ask, I don’t have an answer.) This is one of many episodes in that overly woke series where Prince Adam sought to avoid conflict and Teela was there to represent heroic, martial might.
Naturally, there were plenty of episodes that featured Teela, and she has always been one of the most important characters in the series. She is the adopted daughter of Duncan, the royal Man-at-Arms who trained her to be a capable warrior. In the episode “Teela’s Triumph,” she not only defeats Skeletor and Evil Lyn to save Castle Grayskull, but the show heavily implies that she is the daughter of the Sorceress, the most powerful character in the whole universe. Teela has kind of always been “more important” in mythology terms than He-Man. Any adaptation of this story that doesn’t involve Teela, one of the first four heroic characters created, fails miserably. (Yes, I am talking about The New Adventures of He-Man.)
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was Always for Girls, Too
When the Masters of the Universe toy line became a surprise hit for Mattel, they were startled to discover that nearly a quarter of their customers were little girls. The line was designed by Mattel’s “Boys’ Toys” division. Yet, like with Princess Leia in Star Wars, the mere inclusion of a woman character who was not a damsel in distress proved how hungry for these kind of characters all kids were. Naturally, this led to She-Ra the Princess of Power, a property whose second adaptation was even more of a success than the first. But Teela, was the heroine, the original you might say. Even if Masters of the Universe: Revelation ignores He-Man in favor of Teela, that’s still pretty close to what the original stories were about. If that’s woke and being woke is, somehow, offensive, too bad.
For people who want a story that maximizes time with He-Man, perhaps Masters of the Universe: Revelation will let you down in that respect. By the time you read these words, at least part 1 of the first season will be out. You can decide one way or another. If, though, the series doesn’t have enough He-Man for you, you’ll just have to be content with the 170 episodes of cartoons spanning two separate He-Man series. Or you can read the dozens of comic book series. Or, Greyskull help you, you could watch the 1987 feature film, where Frank Langella absolutely kills it as Skeletor and everything else is not great. Or, you could watch the new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series coming to Netflix sometime in the next year or two. The point is, if this is not the He-Man show you hope it is, there is plenty of other He-Man focused stuff out there.
But there is no question that Masters of the Universe: Revelation is made by real fans of He-Man, Teela, and the gang.
Update: Kevin Smith Addresses Fan Controversy In Podcast Episode
Well, in just the past two days we’ve had quite the lively debate in the comments. Yet, as was inevitable with a man whose second job is talking about pop culture, Kevin Smith addressed the controversy. He didn’t add much to the “woke” debate from his tweet embedded above, but he does address Teela and He-Man’s roles in Masters of the Universe: Revelation. He also drops some pretty big (but also obvious) spoilers about what’s coming the back half of this first season. So, the story is not yet completed. The least any fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe can do is let them finish the story before passing judgement on it.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation is now streaming on Netflix.
What do you think? Share your thoughts about the new series in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.