“He-Man” Gets “Kung-Fu Panda” Director

by | January 29, 2009 at 4:32 PM | The Movies

Continuing the 80s cartoon movie theme, it appears that the new Masters of the Universe movie is not as dead as previously thought. Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver have tapped Kung-Fu Panda director John Stevenson to make his live-action debut on the project. He said he had to get over the old notions from the awful Dolph Lundgren 1987 film version that even included Oscar-nominee Frank Langella as the nefarious villain Skeletor, but once the Mattel people took him into their secret vault full of character and creature designs, things apparently began to click for him.

The first draft of a screenplay written by Justin Marks had gotten some very positive nerd buzz, stripping away everything that cheesed up the concept and left behind a very interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi, sorcery and technology, creatures and robots.

Even the awful name “He-Man” was relegated to an ancient legend that Prince Adam channels through the Sword of Light for the power he needs to become the most powerful man in the universe. That’s integral. He can’t go around calling himself He-Man in this day and age, and if he tries, he needs to be mocked for it.

We’ve got plenty of free episodes of the old He-Man series here on Fancast. Watch this episode, and ignore every groan-inducing joke and recycling of stock footage, and try to imagine the core concept at work and how cool this could be at the hands of a guy like Stevenson, who cut his teeth working for Jim Henson on live-action fantasy films like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

It could be incredible. You have to admit that sword-wielding barbarians driving tanks and flying around on monsters with lasers on their heads has the potential to be a visual feast, and as Transformers proved, that’s all you need to make an 80s toon adaptation work.