Jeff Matsuda, co-executive producer of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, knew full well that while it was essential to honor the original series and core aspects of the franchise, the important thing was to create something that the new generation of kids could own for themselves.
“We have ours,” Jeff explains, referring to longtime fans of the franchise, “and all the iterations, but it’s nice for kids (because) they want to own something themselves. I have kids and if it’s something that has to do with their dad, they’re ‘ah, no, thanks.’ They want something of their own to enjoy.”
This doesn’t mean the new series is He-Man in name only. Showrunner Rob David makes it clear that they’re standing on the shoulders of the many creative’s who’ve had a hand in the franchise. The new creative team’s goal however was to take everything that came before, distill it to its core essence, and find a way of reimagining it, “for a kid today who needs it to reflect both that kid’s hopes, dreams, world, and aspirations on their terms.”
One of the biggest elements of that was changing He-Man a.k.a. Adam himself. In the original series He-Man is a larger than life hero who begins the series fully formed and ready to take on evil with very few doubts in his mind. David wanted the new version of He-Man to reflect how the concept of a hero has changed over the years.
“Our need for heroes is not for instant perfect heroes. It is to show the challenge and journey of becoming a hero.”
This core ethos for the show meant sweeping changes to the story. One example of this is in the changes to the character of Duncan aka Man-At-Arms. In the original series he was an older mentor to He-Man and the father of Teela. In the new series, he and Adam are the same age and there’s no relation to Teela. These changes were made to aid Adam’s larger arc of having to grow into being a hero. He couldn’t have someone like Man-At-Arms around to protect him. However, the new Man-At-Arms does maintain his role of being a master inventor so a core part of the original character is still there.
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