Sony is an interesting studio as of late.
While Universal is busy piling money in a pile–and burning it–producing stinkers likes Cats and Dolittle Sony is apparently on a tear, following up Jumanji: The Next Level, Zombieland: Double Tap with Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and most recently, Bad Boys for Life (which isn’t to say that they haven’t had their share of misfires, ahem, Charlie’s Angels, they’re doing particularly well lately).
And they’re doing pretty well with superheroes as well–despite in my humble opinion that 2018’s Venom was a fluke–with their Spiderverse (Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse) soon to be joined by their first entry from Valiant, Bloodshot.
So, why is it that they can’t make He-Man work?
Sure, 1987’s Master Of The Universe was pretty not good but that had more to do with the fact that it was from Cannon Films, a studio known for low budgets and standards (interesting fact! Cannon was also the former rights holders to the Spider-Man franchise, which made their way to Sony) than anything else.
Comic book characters like Spider-Man, Batman and Superman were originally made for children, though those characters have existed for so long that they have expanded beyond their original base (Interestingly, Warner Bros DCEU has come full circle, making movies based on comic book characters that children can’t see in theaters).
He-Man, unfortunately never moved beyond a younger audience, which is prohibiting the growth of the franchise.
I mean, look at the names of the characters, He-Man, who’s literally beefcake because…he-man. Skeletor, who’s a particularly muscle-bound skull. Evil-Lyn who’s, well, evil.
It’s too literal, which works for children but most adults tend to prefer characters with a bit of nuance.
And that’s a problem because I’m not sure what Sony can do to get asses in seats though I don’t think they should abandon developing the franchise further.
The first thing they need to do is concentrate on keeping the budget as SMALL as possible because when you’re dealing with risk that’s just common sense.
Beyond the budget the movie needs a top draw, someone to get people into theaters. Noah Centineo is a decent actor though not enough of a name to get asses into seats.
And this is a crucial point because one of the things that doomed Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets was casting Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian because, while he’s a good actor, he’s not a leading one.
And speaking of leading men, I would suggest Chris Pratt, but with Guardians Of The Galaxy and the Jurassic World movies he’s likely too busy.
Tonally the movie shouldn’t take itself too seriously, emphasizing action with dramatic and comedic overtones.
And it HAS TO TAKE PLACE ON ETERNIA! This was one of the biggest mistakes with the 1987 movie, which began in Castle Greyskull and quickly moved to Earth, turning into a game of Find The MacGuffin.
And while I’m listing things that Sony shouldn’t do, they shouldn’t reinvent the wheel by creating new characters because the mythology is rich enough that they shouldn’t have to.
And speaking of ‘new characters,’ meet Gwildor!
Now, if Sony were to take into account any of the stuff above it still wouldn’t guarantee that the movie would be a successful one.
But it would be a start.