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Trivia / Masters of the Universe

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The Franchise

  • Follow the Leader: In a sense, as He-Man was the result of the success of Star Wars. Mattel was asked to make the action figures, but immediately rejected it. But seeing how well Kenner's Star Wars toyline were sold, Mattel made action figures of Clash of the Titans and Flash Gordon, but didn't sold well due to the movies not being as big as Star Wars, with the latter being a Box Office Bomb. So Mattel decide to make their own action figure line.
  • Name's the Same:
    • Fisto's 2002 series toy even had to be called "Battle Fist" due to trademark issues with Star Wars' Kit Fisto, despite being created like 20 years earlier (unused trademarks expire shortly however, and Mattel had let their hold on the name lapse)
    • Not the last series with a character named Ninjor or Butthead.
    • The Classics line turned Mark Taylor's original concept for Skeletor into a new character named Demo-Man. To avoid confusion, it should be stressed that the "demo" is short for "demon", not "demolitions".note 
    • One example happened because of Mattel reusing a trademark to keep it active- the human form of Beast from Beauty and the Beast was named Adam in the script but the name "Prince Adam" was used on toy packaging. Mattel made these toys. This has been dropped after Hasbro obtained the Disney toy license.
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  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: A widespread rumor has the franchise originating from Mattel repackaging the toys from a Conan the Barbarian toyline. And while Conan Properties International did sue when Mattel backed out of making Conan toys only to release a Suspiciously Similar Substitute in He-Man and friends, the company was already working on Masters of the Universe when the contract was signed.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Late into the line's lifespan, Mattel held a contest for fans to design their own character, which they would then make into an official action figure (the plan never came through). The winner was Nathan Bitner, who grew up to design characters for the Halo series.
  • Saved from Development Hell: The winning character design from the contest mentioned above was never made for unknown reasons, though Mattel came through with every other promised prize. Finally the character, Fearless Photog, was made as part of the Classics line for the 30th anniversary of the franchise.
    • Likewise for Wun-Dar, Mara, the Star Sisters or any other toy from the Classics line that had reached prototype stage in the 80s but was never released.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Before coming up with He-Man, Mattel tried other ideas that were immediately rejected during their pitches. One is about giants and the other about tiny creatures with playsets.
    • Early designs for Beast Man was bear-like, but was soon redesigned to its final look so he would not resemble a Wookie.
    • There were plans for a prequel to both MotU and She-Ra featuring an ancestor of the main characters, He-Ro, set in a prehistoric version of Eternia called "Preternia". Yeah, those never saw the light of day, but He-Ro has recently been released as part of the MotU Classics toyline.
    • Similarly, Vikor, He-Man of the North, is a MOTU classics figure based on the earliest stage of what would become He-Man's design. Vykron is also based on an early concept prototype where the idea was to have a hero with separate costumes, similar to Mattel's prior Big Jim line - a barbarian, a military man and a space man with a Boba Fett-esque helmet.
    • The Monogram figure kit line was almost cancelled in favor of another project (which didn't itself see the light of day): a 1/25 scale Dodge Diplomat police car.
    • There was to be a sequel series called He-Ro Son of He-Man, featuring He-Man's adopted son, but nothing came of it.
    • The original idea for Two-Bad was making one of the heads be a good guy and the other a bad guy. This was skipped and both were bad.
    • In the 2002 series, they were going to be part of the Evil Warriors from the beginning, until their origin story was considered for a later episode.
    • Stratos was going to be a villain.
    • Tri-Klops and Whiplash were going to be heroes.
    • She-Ra's working name was He-Ra, both to keep a connection to He-Man and a nod to the Greek goddess. It was changed as another company already had a trademark that conflicted.
    • Think it odd that Horde commander Colonel Blast from the cartoon had Rio Blast's gimmick? He was an early concept for what would become Rio Blast.
    • The unreleased "savage" He-Man toy with brown hair, often mislabeled "Wonder Bread He-Man"(Wonder Bread did have a MOTU promotion but this figure was NOT offered through it). To this day no one knows what its purpose was, how many were made or why it was made, let alone how the few samples were released. Even Mattel doesn't know. Theories have floated between a prototype Conan toy(Mattel did negotiate for the movie toy rights but never followed through, and they were in development on MOTU before then), a prototype Prince Adam look(possible as Adam looked different in the early DC issues) or a product for a promotion that never happened.
  • The Wiki Rule: Wiki Grayskull, the He-Man and She-Ra Wiki.
  • Working Title: The early name for the toyline "Lords of Power" was considered, to be in par with "Star Wars". But was soon rejected as it sounded "too religious".

The film

  • Actor-Inspired Element: Frank Langella wrote some of his lines, like: "Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?"
  • Actor-Shared Background: Anthony De Longis, who played Blade, in addition to being an actor, is also a trained swordsman and whip expert, often hired to train actors to use said weapons (check his IMDB page for examples). So, naturally, Blade uses both weapons in the movie.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Frank Langella says that while people assume that the film is an embarrassing Old Shame, he actually loved being Skeletor, and is very willing to share his experience.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $22 million. Box office, $17,336,370.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: In the DVD Commentary, Gary Goddard mentions how Mattel held a contest where the winner would get a role in the film, but they didn't tell them about this until very late in production, so the winner just got a cameo as one of Skeletor's guards near the end with his face hidden under a pig mask.
  • Creator Killer: This was one of several films in the 1980's that led to The Cannon Group imploding.
  • Dawson Casting: Julia and Kevin are supposed to be teenagers, but Courteney Cox and Robert Duncan McNeil were roughly 23.
  • Divorced Installment/Dolled-Up Installment: Was originally intended as a New Gods movie before it was rewritten for He-Man.
    • Cyborg was originally intended to be a sequel to this movie.
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • The final sword fight between He-Man and Skeletor was filmed at the very end, after the money ran out. The director paid out of his own pocket to get that vital sequence filmed and have a finished movie, which is why the set and lighting change so dramatically just for the lions share of the duel.
    • Frank Langella embraced his role and the producers knew full well how lucky they were to have him, as such nearly everything about Skeletor from the makeup to the clothing to bits of the dialogue was based on his suggestions.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Mattel refused to have any action figure based character killed in the movie. Ironically, one of the three movie characters which Mattel turned into an action figure, Saurod, gets killed early on. They also mandated early in production that He-Man not be allowed to kill anyone on screen. This necessitated making Skeletor's troops into robot soldiers, though this fact is never stated outright in the film.
    • Gary Goddard tried to dedicate the film to Jack Kirby in the closing credits. But the studio took the credit out.
  • Inspiration for the Work: Gary Goddard confirmed that film was heavily inspired by the works of Jack Kirby, most notably New Gods, as well as Fantastic Four and The Mighty Thor.
  • Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.": The movie was the only thing related to the franchise that was released in Japan until She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, through technically speaking this is still the only MOTU work shown in Japanese featuring He-Man.
  • No Stunt Double: Dolph Lundgren did his own stunts in the movie.
  • Old Shame:
  • Prop Recycling: Because of the tight budget, the crew had to recycle miniatures previously used by Blade Runner and Ghostbusters to pad out the skyline footage they had.
  • Role Reprise: The Mexican Spanish dub use the same voice cast from the animated TV series.
  • So My Kids Can Watch: Frank Langella cited his then-four-year-old son's love of Skeletor while running around his house yelling He-Man's battle cry "I have the power!", as the reason he chose to play He-Man's archenemy. He also says that he had always wanted to play a cartoonish over-the-top evil nutcase and was promised Skeletor could be that role. He feels the filmmakers delivered.
  • Stillborn Franchise: There were plans for a sequel, which got as far as early production. However, due to monetary issues, Cannon Films lost the rights to the franchise, and the whole project, along with the Cannon's cancelled Spider-Man production assets, eventually turned into Albert Pyun's Cyborg (1989).
  • Troubled Production:
    • The film went into production at the wrong time, as He-Man was slowly dwindling in popularity, Cannon Films was going bankrupt AND Mattel was having financial issues. It went from getting a slashed budget right before filming began to spending the entire back half of filming trying to convince the crew that paychecks will be in that day. Filming was officially shut down just before they could film the climactic sword fight and have a completed movie, the director had to wiggle in another two days of extremely calculated filming to do the bulk of the fight later that evening and then squeeze in another day a month later (on the directors dime) to get the final shots before the set was torn down. They designed the set with the intention of the final fight using all of it and were disappointed in the end result themselves.
    • A fictionalized version of the production can be seen in one of Paul Chadwick's Concrete stories, Fragile Creature, where the title character helps do practical effects on the set of a movie adaptation of a (deliberately) very obvious Captain Ersatz of He-Man. Chadwick himself was in fact part of the real movie's crew.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The original draft included more time spent on Eternia and Snake Mountain, had Beast man in a speaking role, and even revealed that He-Man's mother was originally from Earth, as per Queen Marlena, thus linking the two planets.
    • The original idea was to have the film set on Eternia throughout and be much more faithful to the cartoon, but since the first draft the script was written to have it set on Earth and reduce the amount of sets, and strange characters they would need to create.
    • The original concept for Blade was to have him in heavy alien make-up, chain mail, and a black rubber body glove. However, because of the daunting action sequences, Anthony De Longis feared for his health, so the rubber was trimmed away in the areas that the chain mail would not cover to allow his skin to breathe. De Longis also did not want to wear heavy make-up, so he offered to shave his head instead.
    • Snake Mountain was actually going to be in the movie. A matte painting was to be done for the exterior, while the interiors, known as Skeletor's Palace, were drawn by production designer William Stout. Stout had drawn a series of byways throughout the floor plan with small rivers of lava flowing through the ground around Skeletor's throne in the throne room. The shapes for Skeletor's throne room, also called the Lava Lounge, were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's design of the Imperial Hotel in Japan. Plans for Snake Mountain were quickly scrapped before a set could be built to keep the film's budget low, much to the ire and disappointment of He-Man fans.
    • The Snakemen and She-Ra were in early drafts. William Stout was able to get Gary Goddard to approve his redesigned She-Ra costume, which was a futuristic white and gold suit consisting of a gold crown, a long sleeved top that revealed She-Ra's cleavage and midriff, a gold chain-mail skirt and knee-high boots. However, the Snakemen and She-Ra were cut out due to the film's limited budget.
    • In the planned second film, Skeletor invades our world once more, this time in the guise of an evil corporate tycoon, and would have introduced both She-Ra and Trap Jaw.
    • The Director has admitted he wasn't excited about Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, in large part due to his thick accent, but was cast by the execs due to his exposure in Rocky IV. He auditioned others and even had one he felt better suited, but was overruled. He even anticipated to have him overdubbed, but Lundgren's contract specified against it (Lundgren did redub himself in places where his original performance was difficult to understand).
    • In a scripted scene, Kevin Corrigan is actually seated alone in a pizzeria and is testing out the Cosmic Key. When he pushes a button, the Key plays a musical melody and the cups, plates and pizzas around the pizzeria all float through the air. When the musical melody stops playing, the pizza slices, cups and plates all crash to the ground and in response, Kevin says "Radical." This scene was not filmed, but was used in novelizations and was mentioned in the official movie and poster magazine.


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