Masters of the Universe (film)

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Masters of the Universe
Masters of the universe.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gary Goddard[1]
Produced by Edward R. Pressman
Yoram Globus
Menahem Golan
Written by David Odell
Stephen Tolkin
Starring Dolph Lundgren
Frank Langella
Meg Foster
Chelsea Field
Billy Barty
Courteney Cox
Robert Duncan McNeill
Jon Cypher
James Tolkan
Christina Pickles
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Hanania Baer
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Distributed by Cannon Films
(Warner Bros. Pictures)[2]
Release date(s) August 7, 1987 (1987-08-07)
Running time 106 minutes[citation needed]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $17,336,370[3]

Masters of the Universe is a 1987 American science fantasy film, based on the toy line of the same name. The film stars Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor, alongside Jon Cypher as Man-At-Arms, Chelsea Field as Teela, Billy Barty as Gwildor, and Courteney Cox as Julie.

The film was released in the United States on August 7, 1987.


On the Planet Eternia, at the center of the Universe, Skeletor's (Frank Langella) army has seized Castle Grayskull and captured the Sorceress of Grayskull (Christina Pickles). He plans to exploit Grayskull's hidden power when the "Great Eye of the Galaxy" (a portal in the castle's throne room) opens.

The remaining Eternian defenders are scattered and outnumbered. Among them are Eternia's greatest warrior and Skeletor's archenemy, He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), veteran soldier Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher) and his daughter Teela (Chelsea Field). They attack a unit of Skeletor's troops, and rescue a Thenorian inventor/locksmith named Gwildor (Billy Barty), who takes them to his home and tells them Skeletor has stolen his newest invention: a "Cosmic Key" that can open a portal to any point in time and space. Skeletor used it to breach Castle Grayskull, but Gwildor still has the prototype. When Skeletor's forces arrive seeking it, Gwildor escapes with it and the Eternians through a secret passageway, directly to Grayskull.

At Grayskull, they are ambushed by Skeletor and his troops. In desperation to flee, Gwildor uses the Key to arbitrarily open a gateway, which happens to lead to just outside Whittier, California. The Key is lost upon their arrival and they split up to find it. Meanwhile, in Whittier, two teenagers, Julie Winston (Courteney Cox) and Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill), discover the Key and start pressing its buttons. This allows Skeletor's second-in-command, Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster), to trace the signal to Earth. She sends a crack team to recover it, consisting of Saurod, Blade, Beastman and Karg (who is appointed as leader).

Kevin, an aspiring musician, mistakes the Key for a Japanese synthesizer and takes it to a friend at a music store to get a second opinion, leaving Julie in their high school gym. Karg's team arrives and chases Julie until He-Man rescues her. Karg's team returns to Grayskull where, incensed by their failure, Skeletor kills Saurod with a blast of energy and sends the others back to Earth, with a larger force under Evil-Lyn's command.

Kevin returns to find the school on fire and Julie missing. The detective on scene, Lubic (James Tolkan), takes Kevin to Julie's house to look for her. Julie calls home, and Kevin answers. She tells him the importance of the Cosmic Key and to guard it, but Lubic confiscates it, suspecting it is stolen, and leaves. Immediately afterward, Evil-Lyn captures and interrogates Kevin about the Key with the use of a mind control collar, then leaves to get the Key from Lubic.

Julie and the Eternians reunite with Kevin, remove his collar and proceed to the music store where Lubic has taken the Key for identification. Skeletor's troops also arrive at the store and a battle ensues. Julie hides in a back room with the Key, but Evil-Lyn, holographically disguised as Julie's dead mother (Gwynne Gilford), lures her out and persuades her to hand it over, before revealing her true self. With the Key acquired, Skeletor triumphantly arrives on Earth. He-Man retrieves the Key from Evil-Lyn, but Skeletor surrounds his friends and critically injures Julie with magic lightning, destroying Gwildor's Key in the process. He-Man surrenders to spare his friends and returns to Grayskull as Skeletor's slave.

On Eternia, He-Man is brought inside the throne room of Castle Grayskull and chained to the floor by Skeletor's warriors. Skeletor informs He-Man that he will kneel before him for all of Eternia to witness, before he is killed. In a show of defiance, He-Man lunges towards Skeletor and states that he will never kneel before him. Enraged, Skeletor orders Blade to torture him with a laser-whip. Bound and virtually broken, He-Man is forced to watch the Great Eye of Grayskull open and Skeletor absorb the powers of the universe. Convinced that he is now the Master of the Universe and is finally victorious over his nemesis, Skeletor once again orders He-Man to kneel before him, to which He-Man again refuses. Skeletor demonstrates his new powers in an attempt to force He-Man to kneel.

Back on Earth, Gwildor builds a makeshift Cosmic Key via a combination of a keyboard and Eternian equipment from Man-At-Arms and Teila. Kevin remembers the tones used by the Cosmic Key and plays the keyboard to activate a dimensional doorway back to Eternia and inside Castle Grayskull. Lubic blunders his way into the portal and is transported to Eternia with them. As Skeletor orders them to be destroyed, he accidentally blasts He-Man's chains in the process. This frees He-Man, which allows him to take out many of Skeletor's minions and allows him to reclaim the sword of Grayskull. Evenly matched, He-Man does battle with Skeletor. Using the sword of Grayskull, He-Man destroys Skeletor's staff, causing Skeletor to lose his newfound powers. In desperation, Skeletor draws his sword, but He-Man knocks him into a deep moat at the bottom of the castle.

The rescued Sorceress heals Julie, and a portal is opened to return the Earthlings to Earth. Lubic, treated as a hero here, decides to stay on Eternia. Awakening on the morning of her parents' death in a plane crash, Julie prevents them from taking the flight. She then finds Kevin, who confirms their shared experiences were not just a dream and holds out a souvenir from Eternia: a small blue sphere containing a hologram of He-Man in front of Castle Grayskull.

After the credits, Skeletor raises his head from red liquid at the bottom of the moat and proclaims, "I will be back!"


One of the original drafts from the script by David Odell (whose previous writing credits include Supergirl and The Dark Crystal) was reviewed in episode 3 of the He-Man and She-Ra podcast, Masters Cast. The original draft included more time spent on Eternia, Snake Mountain, Beastman had a speaking role, and even revealed that He-Man's mother was originally from Earth, as per the Queen Marlena character from the Filmation animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, thus linking the two planets.[4]



The musical score of Masters Of The Universe was composed by Bill Conti and conducted by Harry Rabinowitz and Performed by The Graunke Orchestra Of Munich.


Track Listing for the First Release on LP

SIDE one

  1. Main Title/Eternia Besieged (07:25)
  2. Gwildor's Quadrille (01:54)
  3. Earthly Encounter (04:26)
  4. Procession Of The Mercenaries (02:46)
  5. Evilyn's Deception (02:38)

SIDE two

  1. Skeletor The Destroyer (03:10)
  2. He-Man Enslaved (04:42)
  3. Transformation Of Skeletor (02:30)
  4. The Power Of Greyskull (03:32)
  5. Good Journey (04:39)
  6. He-Man Victorious/End Title (05:10)

Track Listing for the First Release on CD

  1. Main Title / Eternia Besieged (07:25)
  2. Gwildor's Quadrille (01:51)
  3. Quiet Escape (02:39)
  4. Earthly Encounter (04:23)
  5. Battle At The Gym (06:29)
  6. Procession Of The Mercenaries (02:50)
  7. Evilyn's Deception (02:43)
  8. Centurion Attack (05:52)
  9. Skeletor The Destroyer (03:11)
  10. He-Man Enslaved (04:42)
  11. Transformation Of Skeletor (02:30)
  12. Kevin's Plight / After Them (09:13)
  13. Julie's Muzak (01:47)
  14. The Power Of Greyskull (03:33)
  15. Good Journey (04:40)
  16. He-Man Victorious / End Titles (05:13)


Despite debuting at No. 3 at the box office,[2] the movie only grossed $17,336,370 in the U.S.[3]

Comparison with Jack Kirby's Fourth World[edit]

Comic book writer/artist John Byrne compared the film to Jack Kirby's comic book metaseries Fourth World, stating in Comic Shop News #497:

"The best New Gods movie, IMHO, is 'Masters of the Universe'. I even corresponded with the director, who told me this was his intent, and that he had tried to get [Jack] Kirby to do the production designs, but the studio nixed it." "Check it out. It requires some bending and an occasional sex change (Metron becomes an ugly dwarf, The Highfather becomes the Sorceress), but it's an amazingly close analog, otherwise. And Frank Langella's Skeletor is a dandy Darkseid!"

Director Gary Goddard clarified this in a letter appearing in John Byrne's Next Men #26, in which he stated:

"As the director of Masters of the Universe, it was a pleasure to see that someone got it. Your comparison of the film to Kirby’s New Gods was not far off. In fact, the storyline was greatly inspired by the classic Fantastic Four/Doctor Doom epics, The New Gods and a bit of Thor thrown in here and there. I intended the film to be a "motion picture comic book," though it was a tough proposition to sell to the studio at the time. 'Comics are just for kids,' they thought. They would not allow me to hire Jack Kirby who I desperately wanted to be the conceptual artist for the picture…

I grew up with Kirby's comics (I’ve still got all my Marvels from the first issue of Fantastic Four and Spider-Man through the time Kirby left) and I had great pleasure meeting him when he first moved to California. Since that time I enjoyed the friendship of Jack and Roz and was lucky enough to spend many hours with Jack, hearing how he created this character and that one, why a villain has to be even more powerful than a hero, and on and on. Jack was a great communicator, and listening to him was always an education. You might be interested to know that I tried to dedicate Masters of Universe to Jack Kirby in the closing credits, but the studio took the credit out."

Brian Cronin, author of the "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" column, concludes that "the film itself was not intended to be literally a reworked Fourth World, although the intent WAS to make the film a tribute to Jack Kirby - just a tribute to ALL of his work, not just the Fourth World."[5]

Abandoned sequel[edit]

Cannon Films intended to create a sequel, which is indicated after the end credits when it is revealed that Skeletor in fact survives his fall. The low-budget ($4.5 million) project that was to be directed (back to back with their aborted "Spider-Man" movie) by Albert Pyun was abandoned when Cannon wouldn't pay for Mattel's fees and the production used the already-made costumes and sets for the low budget sci-fi movie Cyborg.[6][7][8]

Future film projects[edit]

A new He-Man movie directed by John Woo was reportedly being developed in 2007, but despite many rumors circulating around the Internet regarding the film's production status and casting, the project was never officially green-lit. The film rights to He-Man have reportedly since reverted to Mattel.[9]

In September 2009, Sony took over the rights from Warner Bros to produce the Masters of the Universe live action film after Mattel and producer Joel Silver, who was previously involved with a potential film, couldn't agree on creative direction for the film.[10] Sony and Escape Artists' Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch will now start developing the project from scratch for Columbia Pictures. In April 2010, Sony hired screenwriters Mike Finch and Alex Litvak to draft a new script.[11] Warner announced that John Stevenson, director of Kung Fu Panda will direct the upcoming feature. On 12 May 2009, it was announced that the scripting duties had been handed to newcomer Evan Daugherty, with John Stevenson still attached to direct.[12] In September 2009, Sony took over the rights from Warner Bros to produce the Masters of the Universe live action film after Mattel and Silver couldn't agree on creative direction for the film.[13] Sony and Escape Artists' Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch will now start developing the project from scratch for Columbia Pictures. In April 2010, Sony hired screenwriters Mike Finch and Alex Litvak to draft a new script.[11] Deadline reports that Jon M. Chu is in talks to direct the film.[14] Original He-Man actor Dolph Lundgren did an interview with IGN about a possible role in the film as King Randor.[15] October 12, 2012, Richard Wenk is hired to rewrite the script for the film.[16] On March 28, 2013, Chu spoken that the film is still early is in the experimentation and also it won't be campy but an origin story.[17][18] On October 7, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Terry Rossio will write the film & Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch are producing the film and it will set on Eternia, the site also report that Chu will not direct the film.[19] On January 10, 2014, Schmoes Know reports that Joe Cornish, Rian Johnson, Andy Muschietti, Kirk DeMicco & Chris Sanders and Phil Lord and Chris Miller were name as frontrunners to direct the film.[20] On February 26, 2014, it was report that directors Mike Cahill, Jeff Wadlow, Harald Zwart and Chris McKay are on the short list to direct the film.[21][22] On April 9, 2014, Schmoes Know reported that Wadlow will direct the film, but The Hollywood Reporter announced that he's rewriting the script of the film.[23][24]

Home video[edit]

Masters of the Universe was released on DVD October 23, 2001. A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray disc was released on October 2, 2012.[25]


  1. ^ "`Masters` A Lesson In More Thrills For Less". Chicago Tribune. 1987-08-13. Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  2. ^ a b Arts, ' (1987-08-11). "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  3. ^ a b Masters of the Universe at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ "Masters Cast - Episode 3". Masters Cast. Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  5. ^ "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #75". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  6. ^ Brian Cronin (2013-01-30). "Movie Legends Revealed: He-Man & Spider-Man Films Became Cyborg? – Spinoff Online – TV, Film, and Entertainment News Daily". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  7. ^ "Masters of the Universe DVD (1987)". BBC. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  8. ^ "Sequel Baiting Endings That Didn't Work". Empire. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  9. ^ Clint Morris, Fox2000 no longer has the Power of Grayskull, Moviehole, November 30, 2006.
  10. ^ By (2009-09-23). "Barbie's a living doll at Universal - Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  11. ^ a b drees, Rich. "MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE Gets Screenwriters". Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  12. ^ Kit, Borys. "'Grayskull' lands new writer". Retrieved 2009-05-14. [dead link]
  13. ^ By (2009-09-23). "Barbie's a living doll at Universal—Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Jon M. Chu In ‘Masters Of The Universe’ Talks". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike. "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – Lundgren on He-Man Reboot". IGN. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  16. ^ Sneider, Jeff (2012-10-12). "Wenk to pen 'Masters of the Universe'". Variety. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  17. ^ G.I. Joe: Retaliation Director Talks He-Man Movie
  18. ^ TR Interview: Jon M. Chu Talks G.I. Joe: Retaliation...And Masters Of The Universe!
  19. ^ 'Lone Ranger' Co-Writer Tapped to Write 'Masters of the Universe' (Exclusive)
  20. ^ The Phantom (2014-01-10). "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Close to Happening; Looking at New Directors!". Schmoes Know. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "He-Man Film ‘Masters of the Universe’ Director Short-List Includes ‘Lego Movie’ Editor (Exclusive)". The Wrap. 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  23. ^ "A PHANTOM EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Wadlow Will Direct MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE!". Schmoes Know. April 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  24. ^ "Jeff Wadlow to Rewrite 'Masters of the Universe'". The Hollywood Reporter. April 10, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  25. ^ "Masters Of The Universe: 25th Anniversary (BD) | | Warner Bros". Retrieved 2012-07-24. 

External links[edit]