Published on September 19th, 2013 | by Gavin Jones (gavlesidekick)2
Is Thor a remake of Masters of the Universe?
During the latest episode of Panthershark, the subject of the Masters of the Universe (MOTU) movie briefly came up, specifically in relation to the whole fish-out-of-water aspect of the story and this got me thinking about Marvel’s Thor. The Kenneth Brannagh directed Thor definitely has some story parallels with He-Man and the MOTU, no it’s not a remake, of course it isn’t but I thought it would be fun to see how many tenuous links could be made. Before writing this piece I obviously googled Thor/MOTU and was astounded to discover there truly are no original ideas anymore, so much respect to The Guardian but I’m gonna go deeper…much deeper.
1. The Heroes
There are obvious comparisons to be made here, mostly on a superficial level; both Thor and He-Man are blonde, totally ripped, adventurer types and they use old school weapons of the hammer and sword variety. What else though? First up, both characters are of royal descent, He-Man’s dad is king Randor of Eternia, while Thor’s old man is not only a king but king of the Asgardian gods; Odin. Next up, each character surrounds themselves with heavily armed companions to aid them in their battles against the forces of evil, Thor with his Warriors Three and He-Man with the Masters of the Universe but more on that a little bit later.
Both Thor and He-Man, at least in their original incarnations maintained feeble and weak alter-egos, Donald Blake and Prince Adam respectively. Now it could be argued that Prince Adam wasn’t really that different to He-Man, especially if you look at the toy-line, the Adam figure was just as buff as He-Man but the dude was a total buffoon. Now Donald Blake was not a buffoon, far from it in fact, he was a successful Doctor but he was also physically impaired, requiring a cane to walk. Odin chose to send Thor to Earth in the guise of a human being so that he could learn humility, often He-Man would also learn lessons about humanity whilst in his weaker Adam form. Of course this is all academic because the most important point is that for the movie versions of both these characters, the alter-egos were dropped completely. There was no Prince Adam in MOTU and there was no Donald Blake in Thor…well he does get a couple of mentions from Jane Foster but he’s definitely a separate character and nothing to do with the Odinson.
Upon first inspection you may be fooled into thinking there is very little comparison between Skeletor and Loki but you’d be mistaken, there’s more going on there than you may know. Loki is the brother of Thor (SPOILERS adopted brother SPOILERS), they grew up together and have a strong family bond. Skeletor has had many origins, all rather convoluted and confused but my favourite and the one I choose to believe is that Skeletor, before he became ‘Mr Floaty Skull Head’ was actually Keldor, the brother of Randor and therefore uncle to Prince Adam/He-Man, another strong family connection. Both Loki and Skeletor choose to turn their backs on their ‘families’, instead allying themselves with the mortal enemies of their nearest and dearest, Loki with the Frost Giants and Skeletor with Hordak…although I will admit, there is no mention of Hordak in the MOTU movie.
Although both Loki and Skeletor are mostly interested in conquering their respective universes, their boundless hatred for the heroes in each movie forces them to follow them to Earth even when it’s probably not the best idea. Sure they have other reasons for travelling to Earth, the Cosmic Key, taunting your step-brother but still they cannot just LEAVE IT ALONE. Whilst we’re on the subject of the Cosmic Key, does that sound familiar to anyone? Maybe something like the Cosmic Cube, coveted by Loki in the later Avengers movie but that’s a post for another day.
3. The Friends
He-Man has the Masters of the Universe, Thor has the Warrior’s Three…and Sif. Each team of super friends has their own abilities and each follows their respective hero to Earth. I would say that they’re similar but that would actually be a lie, Man-at-Arms is a veteran soldier and father to Teela but he’s certainly no Volstagg or Fendral, I don’t imagine him to be either an eater or lover, just a fighter. That being said, supposedly Teela’s mother is actually the Sorceress of Grayskull so maybe he’s more like the philandering Fendral than he would first appear. It would be an insult to suggest any of the Warrior Three could be compared to the bumbling Gwildor, creator of the Cosmic Key but he does seem to have a penchant for fried chicken, something I’m sure he and Volstagg would agree upon. If Ram-Man had made an appearance in the MOTU movie we could maybe say he resembled Volstaag too being rather short and round in stature but alas they chose not to go with the dude wearing the saucepan on his head.
If there is one comparison that does work between the Masters and the Warriors it has be the Lady Sif and Teela. Both are strong, warrior women fighting and succeeding to be accepted in a man’s world. They even look a like…kinda:
Of course lets not forget the human characters in each movie, both He-Man and Thor are helped greatly by residents of Earth, using knowledge that only they could have to send our Heroes back to were they belong. An early role for Courtney Cox before she became Monica in some TV show nobody has ever heard of, MOTU also sported another actor who would become a regular on our TV screens, Robert Duncan McNeill played ensign Tom Paris in Star Trek Voyager, the worst of all the TV Trek imho. Thor was able to come up with a little more quality for their human helpers with Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings but at least MOTU didn’t make the main hero fall in love with a lowly human, they dodged that bullet.
4. The Writers
I cannot suggest that Thor and MOTU have the same writers, time and fashion does not allow for that. David Odell who wrote MOTu would be considered a veteran of the industry having Supergirl and Dark Crystal under his screenplay writing belt whilst Thor was mostly witten by a team consisting of Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz who until Thor were best known for their TV work and the Malcolm in the Middle spy flick; Agent Cody Banks. I know what you’re thinking, this is all starting to come tumbling down around my ears, seemed like a good idea at the time but I’ve come grossly unstuck, well you’d be wrong because I have not so secret tria nomina up my sleeve. Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS).
When JMS was starting out his creative writing career one of his first gigs came from a spec script he sent to Filmation for none other than He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, he was a big fan of the cartoon and it showed because the company bought his script and a shed-load more of his stories before hiring him as a staff writer. When Filmation decided to spin-off He-Man into their female focused franchise, She-Ra, they also brought JMS on-board as story editor, even though he never got credit for this. I’ll tell you where he did get credit, he got his name in the credits of Marvel’s Thor as writer of the story. This was mostly because of his work on the rebooted Thor comic that the movie is very loosely based upon; the look and feel of the Thor movie are definitely JMS but the plot isn’t…not really. So JMS may not have written either movie but his fingerprints are all over each franchise, his ideas and interpretation of the characters are certainly played out on screen in both films.
So there you have it, I may not have convinced you that Thor is a remake of MOTU but hopefully you’ve least enjoyed the ride, I know I have, my He-Man-Fu is now at it’s highest since I threw away my Battle-Cat pyjamas. If it ever did happen, wouldn’t it be cool if Chris Hemsworth got the part of He-Man in the new MOTU movie? We could even get Dolph back, he’s make a great King Randor. I feel that just like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe we shroud end on a lesson in morality so I’ll just say; kids, never steal porn from your parents, steal it from the local corner shop instead.