Amidst the vocal backlash to the ‘bait and switch’ of killing off He-Man in the first episode of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, showrunner Kevin Smith has denied that any such occurrence took place within the first part of his recently released Netflix He-Man revival, even going so far as to tell fans upset with his handling of the series to “grow the f— up”.
Hosting a recent Masters of the Universe: Revelation-themed episode of his own podcast, FatMan Beyond, alongside Orko voice actor Griffin Newman, Smith responded to fan outrage against his decision to not only kill off He-Man in the first episode of Revelation, but also continually and publicly deny that any such event would come to pass, by explaining that the writing team approached the series with the idea that “You have to keepaway with the [Power Sword].”
“In order to make an interesting story, the first thing you do is take the most powerful man in the universe and try to f—in’ keep the sword away from him,” said Smith. “How we do it in episode 1, is he gives his f—ing life, he sacrifices his life.”
Turning to the specific accusations that He-Man ‘steps aside’ in his own series, Smith argued “If He-Man giving his life for the entire universe is stepping aside, then Tony Stark [in the Marvel Cinematic Universe] stepped aside. Jesus Christ stepped aside.
“It’s a messianic moment, and if you follow classic literature, the hero’s arc, it’s where the hero has to go, eventually,” he added. “You have to sacrifice your life for a cause greater than yourself.“
“When folks are going “oh man, you f—in’ emasculated He-Man”, I’m like, ‘By making him sacrifice himself by saving all of Eternia?’” Smith continued. “That’s not sidelining. That’s not stepping aside. That’s heroic. That’s the point of a hero.”
However, messianic or not, Smith appears to fail to realize that each of these moments was, in fact, the stepping aside of the respective character so that others could take up the reins in their stead – In the MCU, Tony’s death opened up the door and allowed for a new generation of heroes to exist in a world that hadn’t been decimated by Thanos, whilst Jesus’ death in the New Testament gives way to the stories of his disciples as they continued to preach his lessons and spread the word of his divinity.
To that end, Newman then asserted in Smith’s defense that “the thing that frustrates me so much about this ‘lie’ thing is that people are coming up, knocking on your door, and saying, ‘Is it true that this happens in episode 4?’ F—in’ nine months before the show comes out.”
“How are you supposed to answer that question?” Newman asked Smith. “You want people to watch the thing in real time. You wanna see the story unfold, you don’t wanna pre-load those expectations. You gotta get tricky with your words to be able to weave around these traffic cones.”
Smith confidently countered, “I didn’t think I was tricky with the words.”
“I literally said, ‘Teela does no stepping aside’ [given how his sentence progresses, it’s unclear whether he meant something by this or simply confused He-Man and Teela], she has a friend who’s a girl but not a girlfriend, she does not wield the sword of power,” he stated. “I’ll tell you right now, here’s another spoiler. But she never wields the sword, ever, in any of the new episodes. So everything I said was God’s honest ‘f—in’ truth.”
On the specific topic of his reaction to Clownfish TV’s now-provably-accurate reporting, Smith maintained, “People are saying ‘You lied to Clownfish [TV], you gotta apologize’ and I honestly f—ing believe, with my heart, I’ll put my child’s life on it – none of those things I said are f—ing lies.” They’re all factual.
However, the director did apologize to the YouTubers “for leaning into it, tweeting, then hitting it again, tweeting again later on,” claiming that his responses to their reporting were made “simply to obfuscate from what I felt like was the thing that I didn’t want anyone to know” – that Adam dies in the first episode of the series.
“While I was sitting there going ‘oh sh–, they’re going to start talking about [He-Man’s death in episode one],’ Smith recalled, “Over here, is [the conversation with Clownfish] that I can address. I could answer this, and maybe take attention away from this over here. And mercifully, [leaks of Adam’s death] never got louder, so people never knew.”
To add to this rhetoric, in an interview with Variety given “weeks before ‘Revelation’s’ debut” and published the same day as the aforementioned podcast, Smith once again engaged in an attempt to obfuscate the truth by stating that fans outraged by the show’s lack of He-Man “[didn’t] understand the show we based it on.”
“There were episodes where he lost the sword and he never became He-Man,” he attempted to reason. “It wasn’t like He-Man always saved the day. His friends helped him. That was the f—ing point of the show.”
Smith also questioned the logic behind fan complaints, asking rhetorically, “Like, you really fucking think Mattel Television, who hired me and paid me money, wants to do a f—ing ‘Masters of the Universe’ show without He-Man?” before telling said fans to “Grow the f— up, man.”
“Like, that blew my mind,” he concluded. “A bunch of people being like, ‘Oh, I smell it. This is a bait and switch.’”
Backing up Smith’s claims, He-Man voice actor Chris Wood added, ““Adam’s not dead; he’s very wounded.”
“If you want to light the whole world on fire, in terms of destroying a fandom,” said Wood, “you’d take He-Man out and be like, ‘That’s it, he’s gone, bye!’ Now what they’ve done is they’ve found really interesting ways to turn the dynamics of the show on its head and raise the stakes to a point that the original never saw.”
What do you make of Smith’s latest responses to the Masters of the Universe: Revelation backlash?