Everything you need to know about your favorite He-Man characters
He-Man is a cultural phenomenon that seems to be woven into the fabric of society. Just when you think He-Man is on its last leg, by the power of Grayskull he always re-emerges. For the past few years, the He-Man reboot film was rumored to be in development. This past April, the film was finally green-lit with popular heartthrob Noah Centineo confirming that he will be playing the iconic character He-Man in the 2020 reboot.
To prepare for this upcoming motion picture let’s revisit some of the He-Man heroes from our favorite ‘80s show.
Before the craze of Wakanda Forever, there was a royal hero with fantastical abilities even greater than that of the Black Panther. That hero is Prince Adam, an intelligent ruler who masquerades as an oaf to hide the fact that he leads a double life as the universe’s strongest hero. With the help of the Power Sword, Prince Adam is able to assume his alter-ego, He-Man, a charismatic hero with raw strength comparable to the strongest Marvel heroes of today. He-Man is a surprisingly fleshed out character who displays moments of insecurity and doubt while simultaneously providing ample entertainment with his witty jokes and impressive feats of strength. Despite the slightly repetitive nature of each episode, each adventure feels like a new imagining of He-Man’s continuous fight against the powers of evil due to He-Man’s magnetic personality. Unlike other heroes, He-Man isn’t reliant on just his Power Sword (the source of his strength). He-Man has, time after time, demonstrated that his intellect, charisma, and leadership. These are formidable aspects, if not the focal points, of his heroic nature. While there is an argument that He-Man may still be a hero without his Power Sword, we have not addressed the fan-favorite ability that the Power Sword possesses: transforming the timid Cringer into…
Battle-Cat, as the name suggests, is a ferocious feline that is always ready to enter into combat. Cringer, on the other hand, is a timid and fearful animal that was rescued by Adam when it was just a cub. The name Cringer was actually given to him by the other children in Eterniadue due to Cringer’s tendency to cringe at even the slightest inconvenience. The name stuck, but the Sorceress prophesized that while Cringer may be a cowardly sidekick, for now, eventually Cringer would become a powerful ally for Adam.
Although the physical features of Cringer and Battle-Cat aren’t too different, you are always able to tell when He-Man calls upon the powers of Grayskull. The duality of Cringer and Battle-Cat serves as an interesting foil to He-Man and Prince Adam. Whereas, He-Man and his alter ego are quite similar, Cringer and Battle-Cat seem almost like two different entities entirely. It is difficult to imagine how different He-Man’s adventures would have been if not for the trusty sidekick that he rode into battle on several occasions.
A hero is only as formidable as his villain and Skeletor lives up to his terrifying name. Skeletor serves as the main antagonist and archenemy of He-Man throughout the majority of the series. His sole purpose consisted of conquering Castle Grayskull so that he could obtain the ancient and forgotten secrets held within. With these ancient secrets, Skeletor yearns to conquer and pillage Eternia. In many ways, Skeletor is a sympathetic character. He-Man is already a beloved prince who is surrounded by mentors and friends.
Conversely, Skeletor is always yearning for power and is often foiled by the incompetence of his own henchman. It’s difficult to truly feel animosity towards Skeletor due to his interesting backstory and his light-hearted antics. While Skeletor started off as a relatively serious character, he slowly transitioned into a role that had much more comedic relief. The creative strategies Skeletor employs to antagonize He-Man, in conjunction with his hilarious rants to his henchman when they fail, are just a few of the reasons Skeletor is recognizable to so many who have not have even seen He-Man in the ‘80s.
Teela is an Amazonian who is initially tough to love. She is quick to anger and commands respect whenever she enters a room. However, as the series progresses, viewers are shown several different aspects of Teela. Teela starts as a stubborn captain but transitions into a lovable sympathetic character who proves a worthy asset in He-Man’s adventures. Her backstory is actually quite complicated. In some media, Teela is shown to be a clone of the Sorceress while in other media she is the biological daughter of the Sorceress. Her ties to the powerful sorceress are explored in several ways and often serve as an emotional plotline that runs parallel to the main story. When she is not exploring her past, Teela is helping He-Man keep the forces of evil at bay. While any viewer is able to see the uncanny physical similarities between He-Man and Prince Adam, Teela is left in the dark about the two characters being one and the same. This led to several interesting interactions where she reprimands Prince Adam for being irresponsible and not working to be at his fullest potential, while simultaneously being impressed by the power and determination of He-Man. Although the romantic plot between He-Man and Teela isn’t fully explored, there are a handful of scenes that imply there is a mutual attraction between the titular character and Teela.
At one point in our life, we’ve definitely felt a little like Orko. Orko serves as comedic relief throughout the series, with each of his magical attempts misfiring in a new way. Orko’s magical incompetence is attempted to be explained in several ways. In some imaginings, Orko is unable to carry his weight due to missing his magical amulet or wand, while in other imaginings, Orko is incompetent due to being from a different dimension. However, even when Orko returns back to his original dimension, Trolla, he is still unable to show mastery of his powers. Orko does not have an alter-ego like He-Man or Battle-Cat but has proven useful to He-Man in the direst of situations. Whether it be through his magic or his enchanted hat that is able to store an unbelievable amount of items, Orko has cemented himself as a central character in He-Man. Orko is also one of the characters who knows of He-Man’s double life as the lazy Prince Adam. This proves to be troublesome because Orko almost reveals He-Man’s secret identity to Teela multiple times. The only thing stopping Orko from revealing the secrets of He-Man on one occasion was the smooth explanation and interjection by Man-At-Arms. If not for the intervention, Orko would have misfired not only his magic but also his words.
Man-At-Arms is a soldier who also has a proficient knowledge base on weapons and combat. Interestingly, his warrior demeanor actually is a misdirection. Man-At-Arms, also known as Duncan, actually prefers to resolve conflicts through non-violent means before escalating to violence. His role in Eternia is to advise the government on military strategy and ensure the longevity of the planetary monarch. His maturity and knowledge are just a few of the reasons he is a mentor to He-Man and a father-figure to Teela. Man-At-Arms is one of the few characters who knows that He-Man doubles as Prince Adam when not protecting the universe. He is an older hero that is vigilant and scouts the edges of Eternia in order to fight off any signs of evil. He is known for his characteristic mustache and his genuine love for He-Man and Teela.
The protagonist is actually a twin who was separated from He-Man at birth. However, upon her birth, the Evil Horde kidnapped her and took her to Etheria. From that point onwards, Adora was trained and mind controlled as a member of the Horde. It was not until He-Man is sent to Etheria that she realizes that her upbringing and support were all predicated on a lie. Just like her brother, Adora was able to transform into the powerful She-Ra by saying “For the Honor of Grayskull”. Her powers as She-Ra are similar to He-Man’s. In the series, She-Ra has lifted large robots and even objects that are magnitudes heavier than her own body weights. Her signature move throughout the show was using her incredible strength to throw her opponent and incapacitate them. However, it should be noted that the broadcasting laws at the time were very restrictive and none of the He-Man characters were allowed to punch any other human or use their weapons in an offensive manner. Despite these limitations, it’s been widely agreed since the publication that She-Ra is an excellent role model for women who look up to strong female characters who defy their captors and take control of their destiny.
It would be blasphemous to recount the characters of He-Man without mentioning the Sorceress, the reason and source of all of He-Man’s powers. She is a powerful ally to He-Man and has sworn to protect the castle of Grayskull at all costs. The Sorceress serves as a resource to He-Man and his allies, often rescuing or aiding them when it’s needed most. In fact, she is responsible for saving Adora and helping her realize her true potential as She-Ra. The Sorceress is a gracious and powerful protector who is arguably the strongest magic wielding individual in the entire universe. The Sorceress has powers unrivaled by anyone in the series, occasionally even serving as a Deus Ex Machina. The spells that the Sorceress uses most frequently are her abilities to project her own image to give advice or guidance to our favorite heroes, or her transformative powers of turning into Zoar. She’s displayed the ability to augment He-Man’s powers or even give him entirely new powers like the ability to fly. She serves as a magical asset that the heroes always have in their back pocket.
Evil-Lyn is a fearsome magic user who has aligned herself with Skeletor. Skeletor is known for his bumbling useless minions, but Evil-Lyn is the rare exception. Evil-Lyn is unquestionably the second-in-charge on Snake Mountain. Like Skeletor, she has access to a diverse range of spells that can thwart the heroic warriors. Evil-Lyn is able to consistently trick the heroes by using her magic to disguise herself and gain information or sabotage them. Although Skeletor considers Evil-Lyn as his most valuable ally, the trust is not mutual. Evil-Lyn has explicitly stated that she only aligning herself with Skeletor in hopes of taking his powers and realizing her own dream of ruling Eternia. This uneasy alliance fleshes out her character and helps viewers understand her goals and philosophy. Evil-Lyn, despite the name, is actually ambiguous on where her loyalty truly lies. There is a small redemptive arc when she is left to die in a desert with Teela. Although these two starts as adversaries, by the end of the episode there is a deep understanding and mutual respect between the two. Evil-Lyn even entirely abandons the mission that Skeletor has assigned to her because she’s disillusioned by Skeletor.
Some memories are inseparable from one’s childhood. The aroma of a certain food, the hallways of a certain building, or the heroes in a certain television show. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, but it’s a mystery that a show that was canceled after just two seasons continues to ripple and pulse throughout the webs of culture. Perhaps it’s the genuine friendship and love that protagonists shared for one another. In a world where there are franchises, cinematic universes, and spin-offs, there is something beautiful about a simplistic story pitting a man with a bob cut against a magical skeleton
“Today we learned about the importance of taking the responsibility to care about our fellowman. If you have a friend who needs help, who’s having a difficult time, do whatever you can to help them out. Because, as you saw in today’s episode, no matter how big the problem, one person, or one living creature, can make a big difference. See you next time.” – He-Man
Although Masters of the Universe is no longer airing on TV, He-Man’s classic legacy of fantasy good-versus-evil is one that persists unto this generation. With the 2020 reboot up and coming, viewers, both old and new alike, will rediscover the whimsical characters that captured America’s heart back in the 80s. For the fans who can sing every line of MOTU’s theme song, here’s a refresher list of some more unknown characters.
King Randor is the ruler of Eternia and the father of Prince Adam and Princess Adora. Unaware that Prince Adam is actually He-Man, Randor is depicted on the show as being often disappointed by Adam and his lazy attitude. Yet he is also proud of Adam’s kind-heartedness and is frequently seen trying to give his son advice on his soon-to-be kingly duties. King Randor, however, is not just a wise ruler but also has history with being a warrior himself. In his youth he was a distinguished captain who fought against Skeletor with the Eternia army, only taking the throne once his own father disappeared. The courage and bravery he had to display when fighting against Skeletor have, despite Adam’s seemingly oafish demeanor, been well inherited by He-Man.
Queen Marlena is Randor’s wife, Queen of Eternia, and mother of Prince Adam and Princess Adora. Although her role in the series is much smaller than Randor’s, she has an arguably more interesting backstory. Some series have her as a crash-landed human astronaut that falls in love with Randor, while others simply have her display her skill as a pilot, a markswoman, and a ruler. Either way, she is consistently depicted as an intelligent and perceptive individual, especially as she is shown to suspect that Prince Adam is He-Man, unlike her husband. It is that suspicion that has her defending Adam’s antics, protecting not just her son’s identity but his feelings as well.
Ram Man is one of the most loyal members of the Heroic Warriors and is even more so loyal to Eternia itself. A short and stocky man offset by his flat, face-hugging metal helmet, Ram Man’s loyalty stems from his origin story. Due to his aggressive and dim-witted personality, Ram Man first lived on his own on a patch of barren land. When He-Man tried to approach him, he assumed he was under attack and subsequently tries to fight He-Man, only to lose. In his anger and confusion over losing, Ram Man is magically manipulated by Skeletor to repeatedly ram his head against Castle Greyskull. He is rescued from Skeletor by the Heroic Heroes and realizes that he had been tricked. Thus, he befriends He-Man and the Warriors and promises his unswerving loyalty to the people of Eternia.
Stratos is another one of the Heroic Warriors and one of He-Man’s friends. He is of the Bird People race and is thus capable of flight through a combination of his own inherent ability to fly and the jetpack he wears that is powered by the mystical Egg of Avion. He also can project energy from his knuckles, making him an excellent spy and stealth striker for the Heroic Warriors. Despite his unique design and backstory as the leader of the Avion Bird people, Stratos is given very little screen time in the cartoons. Most would not recognize him if it weren’t for his striking red, white, and blue feathered costume. However, he has more than deserved his place on this list due to his loyalty to the Heroic Warriors and representation of the wide range of cultures in the world of Masters of the Universe.
When it comes to the bad guys, one of the most underrated characters is Beast-Man, Skeletor’s right-hand minion. He is able to telepathically command wild beasts and has enhanced physical strength, which makes him a formidable foe in battle. However, his clumsiness and lack of wit have him failing more often than he succeeds. Depending on the series he is shown to be either a bumbling, unquestioning follower or a resentful yet loyal glory-seeker. Regardless, Beast-Man’s distinct orange and yellow armor and cruel black whip work well as a visual counterpart to Skeletor’s more cool-toned coloring. The two are unmistakably a powerful villain duo. However, there is one other minion who Beast-Man frequently works with: Trap Jaw.
Trap Jaw is a cyborg that has, as his name suggests, an immensely powerful metal jaw. He uses it to bite through nearly anything and augments what he can’t bite with his arsenal of built-in weapons. A coarse and brazen character, he is frequently outwitted by his opponents due to his over-reliance on his metal chomping abilities. In fact, he became one of Skeletor’s minions due to his loss against both He-Man and Skeletor. The two rivals turned sudden companions worked together to trick Trap Jaw into a defeat, upon which Skeletor dragged his unconscious body to Snake Mountain. While he and Beast-Man are usually sources of comedic relief, Trap Jaw does have his moments where his mechanical skills are not only displayed but shown to be competent.
King D’vann Grayskull
Finally, the man behind He-Man’s immense powers, King Grayskull is Prince Adam’s ancestor who once lived in Castle Grayskull. Grayskull’s resemblance to Adam comes from the fact that his design is based on He-Man’s prototype character designs. A selfless and clear-sighted ruler, Grayskull was embroiled in a seemingly hopeless war for Eternia with his enemy Hordak. In order to defend his kingdom from the Snake Men, Grayskull went on a journey to find a source of ultimate power and strength. He found that power from an oracle who both showed him a lost sword and gave him a forewarning: he would not survive his battle with Hordak. Despite this, Grayskull valiantly took the sword, imbued it with his inner strength and energies, and died. The spirit of Grayskull is still hidden deep in the depths of his castle and will remain there forever.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe has been rebooted, re-released, and remade constantly since its inception. Its eye-catching design and simple yet passionate plot are timeless, allowing a viewer to enjoy its playful setting and diverse cast of characters wholeheartedly.