Masters Of The Universe Live-Action Blockbuster Sets Sights On Summer

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

He-Man has been a major character in pop culture since 1982, and toymaker Mattel has been trying to revive this brand in a big way. The crown jewel of their efforts has been creating a new live-action Masters of the Universe film, but those efforts have been stymied as the film jumped from one company to the next.

Now, however, Mattel “has the power:” Amazon MGM Studios and Mattel Films will be bringing their live-action Masters of the Universe movie to theaters for a summer 2026 release.

He-Man An 1980s Cartoon

He-Man Movie

If you’re unfamiliar with the character, He-Man was introduced back in 1982 as the main character of an ambitious line of action figures.

In order to help sell the toys, Mattel teamed up with Funimation to create He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. This popular cartoon focused on the adventures of Prince Adam, an unassuming royal who secretly had a mystical sword that allowed him to change into the muscular hero of the realm known as He-Man and fight colorful villains like Skeletor.

Second Live-Action Attempt

live-action masters of the universe

Incidentally, the upcoming theatrical release will be the second live-action Masters of the Universe film. The first came out in 1987 and had a few good qualities: for example, Dolph Lundgren made for a great He-Man, Frank Langella made for an even better Skeletor, and the character designs by William Stout looked fantastic.

However, none of that changes the fact that the film was baffling to both critics and fans and likely damaged the brand more than Mattel could ever imagine.

Fortunately, the new Masters of the Universe film sounds like it’s in very good hands. It’s going to be directed by Travis Knight, best known to geekier film lovers as the director of Bumblebee. That means he has some real experience in turning toy characters into compelling movie protagonists, and the film might very well need all of his prowess to succeed.

A Young Prince Adam?

The premise of this new film differs very much from its source material, featuring a young Prince Adam who crashed to Earth years ago at the age of 10 and lost the Power Sword that (among other things) allows him to transform into He-Man.

He finds the sword nearly 20 years later, and its magic transports him back to his homeworld of Eternia. There, he must master the secrets of being He-Man in time to defeat Skeletor and keep the bony bad guy from conquering the planet.

Why Take Place On Earth?

masters of the universe

For longtime He-Man fans, perhaps the scariest thing about the new Masters of the Universe story is that we don’t know how much of the movie will take place on Earth.

That was a big part of why the 1987 film was so bad: in a cost-cutting measure for the studio, the vast majority of that movie took place on Earth.

Not only was this disappointing for audiences who wanted to see more of Eternia, but it was that much more difficult to take Dolph Lundgren seriously when his battles mostly took place in abandoned high schools and empty streets. 

Troubled Production Timeline

masters of the universe

Whether executives were concerned by the story or something else, it’s clear that the Masters of the Universe film has had a troubled road on the path to production.

At first, Sony was developing the movie, which then passed to Netflix (home of the excellent Masters of the Universe: Revolution cartoon) before ending up with Amazon MGM Studios.

That doesn’t bode well, but Mattel has enough riding on this movie that it’s unlikely they’ll release another live-action stinker (or should that be Stinkor?) like we had before.

Blending Sci-Fi And Fantasy

masters of the universe

As a major fan (I’m literally writing this in an office filled to the brim with He-Man toys), I can only hope that this live-action Masters of the Universe film defies the odds and is great enough to create an entirely new generation of fans.

He-Man is a character who blends sci-fi and fantasy, and this new movie could provide a perfect alternative for audiences suffering from the superhero fatigue of endless Marvel movies.

 If the movie is as bad or worse than the 1987 one, though, we could be looking at the death of one of the most influential brands in media history. And not even Scare Glow himself will be able to bring it back from the afterlife.

Source: Deadline