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Masters Of The Universe Repeats The Original Transformers Movie's Mistake

Warning: SPOILERS for Masters of the Universe: Revelation.

The first episode of Masters of the Universe: Revelation echoes the same critical mistakes made by their rival toy property in 1986's The Transformers: The Movie. Created by Kevin Smith, Masters of the Universe: Revelation is a spiritual sequel to the 1980s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. However, Smith was given free rein by Mattel to make Revelation a gritter series suiting the adult sensibilities of the core audience who grew up with He-Man. But judging from the backlash Masters of the Universe: Revelation received from a segment of angry fans, the show might have gone too far, which is similar to how Transformers: The Movie mishandled the fates of the Autobots and Decepticons.

Transformers: The Movie was an animated feature film that got a theatrical release in 1986. For the generation of kids who watched The Transformers every weekday, it was an unheard-of miracle to get to see the Autobots and Deceptions take their eternal war to the big screen. Little did fans know that Transformers: The Movie was actually Hasbro's master plan to kill off the existing toy line to make room for a new crop of robots in disguise. Hasbro, who saw the characters as mere toys to be replaced, gravely miscalculated how attached young fans were to their favorite Autobots and Deceptions. Kids were especially traumatized by the death of Optimus Prime in the first act of the movie. Not only did Optimus die fighting Megatron, who also perished, and he was replaced as Autobot Leader by Rodimus Prime, while Megatron was rebuilt into Galvatron. Kids (and their parents) revolted against this change, and the Transformers cartoon resurrected the heroic Autobot commander. However, the damage was done and the Transformers' popularity (and toy sales) didn't recover.

Related: Masters of the Universe: Revelation Season 1 Ending Explained

In the first episode of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Kevin Smith and his creative team made the bold but controversial decision to (temporarily) kill off He-Man (Chris Wood) and Skeletor (Mark Hamill). While both characters were always meant to return, many fans's reaction to the death of He-Man was identical to how kids were flabbergasted by Optimus Prime's death 35 years ago. The anger of the hardcore He-Man fans was palpable and they resorted to "review-bombing" Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Rotten Tomatoes, which is in sharp contrast to the show's incredibly high Fresh rating among critics. Worse, the incensed segment of fandom rejected taking He-Man off the table in favor of making Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar) Revelation's main character in the same way that Transformers fans hated Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime for replacing Optimus. (Although their problems with Teela are borne from entirely different biases.)

The difference between Transformers: The Movie and Masters of The Universe: Revelation is that Hasbro's original intention was to kill Optimus Prime off permanently. The toy company was taken aback by the furious fan response and the TV show quickly walked back Optimus' death. Soon, Rodimus Prime was de-powered back to being Hot Rod and Optimus was restored as the Autobots' leader and main hero.

In contrast, the "death" of He-Man in Revelation is just a piece of a greater story, and Kevin Smith teased that He-Man will eventually return by season 1's end. In addition, Skeletor's victory by acquiring the Power of Grayskull is a story Masters of the Universe hasn't told and it one-ups how Megatron never got a decisive win over Optimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon. Still, time will tell how much damage was done to the Masters of the Universe brand by 'killing off' He-Man in Revelation, even if his comeback in the latter half of season 1 was part of the show's design all along.

At the very least, Masters of the Universe: Revelation's creative team did miscalculate how the hardcore fans they designed their show to appeal to would react to the choice they made to kill He-Man, even temporarily. Decades later, Optimus Prime's death in Transformers: The Movie was mimicked in Michael Bay's Transformers live-action films and it no longer has any real impact, so perhaps the same will eventually happen for He-Man as well.

Next: Why Netflix's Masters of The Universe He-Man Series Is So Controversial

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