With the recent news that McG won’t be directing Masters of the Universe (that whooshing noise is the bullet we just dodged), it’s left the movie wide open for someone with talent to step into the breach and make an interesting, big budget, space fantasy extravaganza. For those not in the know, Masters of the Universe is the story of Prince Adam, a man from the planet Eternia, who can turn into He-Man, a super strong, shirtless hero. He, along with a team of quirk-filled, supporting characters must face off against the evil Skeletor. It’s like Star Wars with more sword and sorcery type ideas, or Lord of the Rings with more spaceships. As I recently wrote about the first attempt at making a movie of the Masters of the Universe, there’s no one better suited to speculate on who should take over the reins of this new attempt, so let’s get into it.
Rachel Talalay hasn’t directed a movie since 1995’s Tank Girl, but has carved out a niche as the go-to director for intelligent, engaging episodes of genre television. Her recent run of Doctor Who episodes have been some of the greatest in the show’s history with her work on “Heaven Sent,” the penultimate episode of last season, being one of the best episodes of any show that year. For Masters of the Universe she would bring a skill for making big, weird concepts accessible and fun, something she exhibited twenty years ago with the fun as hell and wildly underrated Tank Girl, and something she’s been doing recently with her work on Doctor Who, The Flash, and Supergirl.
Guillermo del Toro
An area where the original Masters of the Universe excelled was the creatures. Even with a tiny budget, they managed to make villainous monsters who looked freaky and effective. The entire range of Masters of the Universe monsters is huge so who better to be allowed into that toy box to bring monsters to life than Guillermo del Toro? Partner him up with WETA or ILM and let him go wild and we would be treated to incredible versions of Skeletor, Beast Man, Lizard-Man, Flogg, Orko, Trapjaw, and Ram-Man. From his work on Hellboy we know del Toro’s got the chops and imagination for a movie this scale so just cut him a check and leave him to get on with it.
If you’ve had any interactions with me in the real world, Twitter, or by reading anything I’ve posted on this site, you know that one of my favourite directors working today is Ben Wheatley. His genre-jumping filmography and propensity towards gorgeous images and gritty violence/characters are catnip to me and I want to see him go from strength to strength in his career. Other than my weird fixation with a complete stranger’s career, I think he would be a great fit for Masters of the Universe because the very concept of Masters requires someone who can see how ridiculous it is and inject some humour and fun into it while also being able to do the little character moments that would make the whole thing sing along with the intense violence that comes with having a main character wielding a giant sword.
Speaking of sword violence, last year Miguel Sapochnik reinvented the sword and sorcery battle game with his incredible episode of Game of Thrones: The Battle of the Bastards. Throughout the run of Thrones there has been many big action set-pieces but The Battle of the Bastards was really the first time the show broke out of its boundaries of cable television into something huge and cinematic. Sapochnik staged battles that would put Peter Jackson to shame and also managed to take something that had a semi-foregone conclusion and make it exciting and breath-taking into the bargain. Masters would have a more sci-fi edge than Game of Thrones but when you’ve got these fantasy characters it seems a waste not to have huge battle sequences and Sapochnik has shown he can do the battles but also the rich character bits before and after too.
Michelle MacLaren is another Game of Thrones alum who has been doing great things with TV and is more than ready to jump onto the big screen. Her TV credits are a murderer’s row of great shows like Breaking Bad, Thrones, Westworld, Better Call Saul, and The X Files. Just those examples show she has experience with fantasy, sci-fi, weirdness, and great character work. In fact, she’s probably too experienced to be making a big budget movie based on a line of toys. But if someone has to make the movie, I would want it in the hands of someone who would direct the shit out of it and make something interesting, exciting, and intelligent, which is what MacLaren always does.
The Wachowski Sisters
Really, this one is a no-brainer. The Wachowskis have shown more than most other filmmakers working today an ability to create huge, immersive worlds filled with ideas, concepts, action, effects, and weirdness. They are used to working in their own sandboxes but have proven skill with adaptation (Speed Racer, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas). This seems like the perfect fit of source material and filmmakers, and given the entire of Eternia and all the characters within to play with, the Wachowskis could make a masterpiece.
Say what you want about Snyder, the guy can make a visual and he knows how to go huge. He can do ensemble character stuff and he reinvented sword and sandal movies with 300. He also knows how to photograph buff dudes so they look like Greek statues you would find in a museum. Something big and ridiculous from Snyder might be exactly what the doctor ordered with Masters of the Universe and if the eight year old in me is to be satisfied it might require a slow motion sword fight between He-Man and Skeletor atop a mountain of skulls in the middle of a thunderstorm, and that’s something I know Snyder can give to me.
Featured Image: Cannon Films