The realm of Eternia is having something of a renaissance lately. Not only is the He-Man movie reboot happening — with the news that writer David S. Goyer may also be directing — but Prince Adam’s sister and champion of Etheria, She-Ra, is coming to Netflix with an upcoming animated series. DC comics has done fairly well in recent years to keep alive the man with the Power of Greyskull in the palm of his hand as well, releasing numerous comic book series that further the adventures of the Masters of the Universe. At one point they even teamed up with the Thundercats, another classic ’80s cartoon mainstay.
The She-Ra series is slated for sometime in 2018, but we will have to wait another two years before we see He-Man and the Masters of the Universe return to the big screen. When that hits, it will have been 32 years since the classic original movie first debuted, starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella at his scenery-chewing best. Despite his absence on TV and in the movies though, there’s still a lot of love for Prince Adam, which is why we here at CBR are happy to bring you 15 of the funniest He-Man memes!
He-Man was doing a lot of things before they were cool. Sure, Conan may have brought the nudity and gore, and even helped to define the swords and sorcery genre, but Prince Adam brought it to the masses in a way that many of us — of a certain age group — still remember fondly today.
He-Man was also the first muscular hero to push through the stricter censorship guidelines of the previous decade and was even allowed to be shown punching and striking his enemies, although most of the time he used wrestling techniques to subdue the forces of Skeletor. The original Masters of the Universe cartoon was also one of the more prominent shows to be based on — and indirectly advertising — a hugely successful toy line.
14. ADULT CONTENT
Being a kids cartoon whose primary goal was to sell action figures, it’s hard to imagine He-Man and the Masters of the Universe being thought of as a controversial or even “sexy” cartoon. As is the nature of fandom though, if you present a muscular man in a loincloth, people’s minds will inevitably wander.
Despite having the hair-style of a prepubescent choirboy, He-Man is a very popular cosplay icon, along with She-Ra, and like anything in the Swords and Sorcery genre, there’s more than a little hint of bondage to the outfits. Maybe it’s just our dirty minds?! Either way, the leap from Mr. Grey to Mr. Greyskull wasn’t a big one, but perhaps it’s best if we don’t dwell on this one too long, and move on to the next meme?
13. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
During the ‘80s, rock music and fantasy iconography went hand in hand. You can still see the connection today, with various rock and metal bands using imagery from fantasy novels to adorn their album covers, as well as taking their influences for their lyrics from worlds of dragons and orcs. Even Leonard Nimoy released a song called “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” although the less said about that the better.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe mixed with rock music seem like a perfect fit, after all, what other genres can take in the scope of the realm of Eternia? The epic battles and dark, terrifying imagery could only really be accompanied by the pounding, frenetic stylings of rock and metal music, which is probably why this meme works so well.
12. I HEART SKELETOR
It’s a common concept in superhero comics, but every hero is only as good as their villain. Some of the best superheroes around have got the greatest rogues gallery of foes, and that’s no coincidence. Batman, Spider-Man, The Flash all have a fantastic line-up of bad guys to fight, and oftentimes the story arcs of the villains take focus and even occasionally upstage the hero’s plight.
Skeletor, like the Joker or Lex Luthor, is as iconic as the hero he opposes. He-Man may have his name in the title, but most of the time it was Skeletor that the fans were waiting for. That unique design, his scary poses and terrifying voice (performed by Alan Oppenheimer) led to many fans wanting more from Skeletor than from He-Man.
11. FEAR AND LOATHING IN ETERNIA
You could easily draw a connection between the Masters of the Universe and the world of Hunter S.Thompson’s seminal retrospective on the demise of ‘60s counterculture. After all, what is the Power of Greyskull if not a performance-enhancing drug? Much like Spinach to Popeye, Prince Adam undergoes a physical and mental transformation in order to undergo the wildest of adventures, which isn’t a million miles removed from the characters within Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
The other side of this meme is the hilarious idea of He-Man and Skeletor embarking on a drug-induced road trip, engaging in deep discussions about the unrealized expectations of their lives in Eternia. A savage journey to the heart of the Eternian dream it may be, but not even the original He-Man cartoon was this controversial.
10. BIG ADAM STYLE
Mixing together one of the icons of ‘80s television with an icon of the ‘90s, this meme envisions a world in which He-Man and the Fresh Prince himself collide to produce something hilariously unique. Not only is the idea of Prince Adam in the dopest ‘90s threads pretty great, but the concept of him moving to his auntie and uncle’s in Bel-Air is also awesome.
It’s hard to decide which is better, the thought of the entire cast of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air being recast with characters from the Masters of the Universe cartoon, or just switching Will Smith and Prince Adam between their shows. The shenanigans He-Man would get up to with Carlton and Jazzy Jeff is one thing, but imagining how the Fresh Prince would do in a battle against Skeletor is another show entirely.
When we see Eternia, you never see the characters living it up at a beach resort. More than likely it’s a creepy nighttime setting outside castle Greyskull, or a battle against Skeletor under a full moon. Still, when you wear an outfit like He-Man does, tan lines are going to become an issue.
It’s a good job that He-Man isn’t Prince Adam’s secret identity — if it is, he does a terrible job of hiding it as he literally shouts and draws lightning to him every time he transforms. If he did have to keep his superhero alter-ego a secret, he’d have to make sure he wore some strong sun protection, otherwise, one look at those unique tan lines and the truth would be revealed.
8. SHE’S GOT THE LOOK
In a lot of ways, Nikki Minaj is something of a style queen. She’s able to transform her entire look from one music video to the next, and not only that but look damn good while doing it. This look, however, wasn’t great on Prince Adam, and sure doesn’t look great on Nikki either.
If we had to award a prize for who wore it better, we’d give it to Nikki Minaj, if only for the fact that He-Man has never been able to pull off that hairstyle. That white long sleeve t-shirt is pretty timeless, and he’s even rocking the pink vest, but surely there’s got to be a better hairstyle for the Prince of Eternia than that? Maybe that’s why Skeletor hates him so much.
7. SPARKLY SKELETOR
Finally, Skeletor looks as good as he feels! There’s no doubt that the biggest bad guy in all of Eternia is iconic, but we never thought of him as particularly fabulous until just this moment, which just goes to show that if you got it and you rock it, there’s no such thing as a bad style.
Seeing Skeletor all sparkly has got to be a kick in the teeth for He-Man. Sure, he’s got the muscles, the classic good looks, the superheroic adventuring lifestyle and an alter ego that is the prince and heir to the lands of Eternia, but does he sparkle like he’s covered in glitter and standing under a disco ball? No, he does not. You shine Skeletor, shine on you crazy diamond.
6. TOO REAL
Poor Skeletor. He may be sparkly, but he’s also constantly defeated and humiliated by that menace He-Man. Has no one told Prince Adam to pick on people his own size? All Skeletor is trying to do is come up with plans that alternate between ruling the universe and destroying the universe, and he consistently comes up against a He-Man-shaped obstacle.
At least no one can make him feel worse than he already does, as literally and figuratively he’s been dead inside for years. Presumably, it’s a mixture of magic and “fantasy-science” (which, let’s face it, is just a fancy way of saying magic) that keeps Skeletor alive, but what really makes him live is the positive feelings that he gets from a good day’s scheming. It’s a pity most of those good days end up with a beating from He-Man, but what’s an evil skeleton man to do?
The world of Eternia is a pretty magical place. Not only is there straight up magic but there’s all manner of weird and wonderful creatures, like this unicorn that He-Man is riding on. You’d usually find She-Ra using Unicorns and — more specifically — Pegasi to ride around on, with He-Man’s transport of choice being his trusty friend Battlecat, but when you absolutely need to get from one side of the realm to another, you gotta fly.
Some may say that riding a rainbow-winged unicorn like this affects He-Man’s hyper-masculine image, but we disagree. The stereotypical tropes of what is considered manly and what isn’t need to be thrown out the window in today’s modern society and any argument to the contrary are invalid because, as we can plainly see, He-Man is on a flying unicorn, and he is owning it.
4. CANNOT WIN
It’s the villain’s lot in life to be constantly defeated by their heroic nemesis. While some of the best stories have the bad guys get closer than they ever have before to winning the day, it’s a narrative inevitability that the good guys will always be triumphant.
It seems a little unfair to single out Skeletor for his failures, as he’s not the only villain to be thwarted every time they hatch a diabolical scheme. Everyone from Rita Repulsa to the Joker has to face the fact that they’re living in worlds where they will never end up on top. What makes a true supervillain, however, what separates them from your average bad guy, is their ability to dust themselves off in the face of overwhelming odds, and try, try again.
3. MANY LAYERS
Not only does He-Man have the unenviable duty of being the strongest, purest protector of the land, but he has to juggle that with the role and responsibilities of being Eternian royalty in his alter ego as Prince Adam. That’s no easy task, which is perhaps why He-Man has become the hero that he is because not everyone could take on the hordes of minions unleashed by Skeletor while simultaneously carrying out his regular courtly duties.
In a lot of ways, He-Man is a lot like Superman. Besides the fact that you’d have to be an idiot not to put two and two together and see that Prince Adam, much like Clark Kent, isn’t who they claim to be, it’s also not merely their strength that makes them a hero. Rather, it is their unique understanding of what it takes to be a true protector of the land and its people.
Let’s face it, most mornings we could all use a little Power of Greyskull to get out of bed and go to work or school. Being able to lift a sword into the air and instantly become the best you that you can be, and in a flash become someone that can take on anything that the day is going to throw at you is extremely enviable.
Sadly the Power of Greyskull isn’t available to us normal folk, so we have to make do with coffee and a hot shower, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. It’s only after some breakfast, another cup of coffee, a brisk commute and maybe even a third cup of coffee before any of us feel awake enough to do the simplest of tasks, never mind defeating Skeletor.
1. BRITISH HUMO(U)R
No matter what side of the Atlantic you’re on, you know how important the tea is to the British. While most Americans would consider ice tea, sweet tea or at a push hot tea with lemon to be the standard, when it comes to a cup of tea in England, that means a hot brew, milk, and maybe some sugar (if you’re a heathen).
When it comes to how much milk, though, everyone has a different opinion. A strong cup of tea looks darker but packs more of a punch, and a weak tea is pretty pointless. No, when it comes to getting the mixture just right, you have to refer to the color, and in this case, He-Man’s swarthy complexion is a good rule of thumb for the perfect cup of tea.
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