He-Man and the Masters of the Universe has been rumored to be getting a live action reboot for years. Considering Netflix’s announcement that it will soon be featuring a reboot of his sister She-Ra: Princess of Power, that might be enough to have someone finally pull the trigger. Of course, part of what made He-Man so popular the first time around was having colorful villains and allies. A good number of them feel like parodies of real heroes and villains (we always feel compelled to pick on Man-E-Faces and Mekanek), but some of the enemies of the Most Power Man in the Universe are quite formidable.
When you start at the very bottom of the villain list, you’ve got some real stinkers… literally (we’re looking at you, Stinkor), but raise your hand if you remember Meteorbs! They were basically egg-shaped asteroids that turned into animals! Speaking of animals, can anyone name the He-Man villain that was a giant purple rabbit and bore an uncanny resemblance to Thunderbunny? At the top of the list, you have some serious foes that were so strong that it forced He-Man to team up with Skeletor to defeat them. And where does Skeletor rank when it comes to the best of the bad? We at CBR rank the top 20 He-Man villains.
20. PRINCE ADAM
Whoa! Prince Adam is the alter ego of He-Man! Why the heck is he listed as one of He-Man’s villains? Was there a funky episode that forced Adam to fight He-Man the way that Clark Kent had to fight Superman like in Superman III? Not exactly. Prince Adam is the opposite of He-Man: he’s timid, uninspiring, and lazy (even though he looks exactly like He-Man).
What’s the use of an alter-ego, anyway? Iron Man doesn’t have one. Thor got rid of his a while ago (or rather, his dad got rid of it). All Prince Adam does is take time away from his being He-Man. Prince Adam’s parents are the rulers of Eternia; it’s not like they’re vulnerable behind the walls of their castle or not used to being threatened, so an alter ego doesn’t protect anyone, it’s just an excuse for He-Man to be lazy from time to time.
What’s cool about the Transformers and Go-Bots is that they’re two toys in one. Not only is it a truck, it also becomes a cool robot. When you don’t want to play with the jet, you can change it into a Decepticon. Kids only have so much allowance and need to maximize their expenses when it comes to toys — so why not a two-in-one! With that in mind, how about robots that transform into eggs? Ah, the two most fun things to play with!
Actually they only looked like eggs; they were supposed to be robotic meteorites, thus the name Meteorbs. The evil Meteorbs consisted of Orbear, Ehinorb, Crocobite, Dinosorb, and Gore-illa. If the notion of having space eggs as enemies doesn’t seem too threatening… well, it’s not, really. These guys made for bad toys and they also made for weak enemies of He-Man (or any hero for that matter).
We know what you’re thinking: When did Emmanuel Lewis ever fight He-Man? Sorry, we’re not referring to the star of the 1980s sitcom Webster, we’re talking about the half-man, half-spider foe of He-Man named Webstor. This guy, similar to Liam Neeson, had a particular set of skills. His stealth abilities were impressive, and he actually snuck into Eternia’s Royal Palace. He was even able to capture Stratos.
Whereas a lot of He-Man’s villains are bumbling, Webstor has shown to be cunning, as well as having a good strategic mind, trapping He-Man in an elaborate labyrinth as well as partnering up with other villains not because he was commanded by Skeletor, but because it was a good power grab at the time. Why isn’t he higher on the list? He might be the only He-Man villain ever to die in an episode!
C’mon, guys. With the exception of He-Man being hella tanned, he looks exactly like Prince Adam. They have the same build, the same haircut, and they don’t even have Clark Kent’s glasses as a disguise. Then again, the planet Eternia is a place where Man-E-Faces is considered a master of disguise, so it makes sense that people could be fooled by Faker, literally a blue-skinned He-Man.
Given the fact that we’re huge fans of the Superman doppelganger Bizarro and the Mirror Universe in Star Trek, the idea of He-Man having an evil version sounds cool in theory. The toy depicted him as a blue robotic version of He-Man wearing Skeletor’s armor, but in the 1980s cartoon, he was a magical creation that was an exact replica but with glowing eyes and an autotuned voice.
Shokoti is so cool that she was actually able to get a two-part episode from the series in the 1980s. She’s got blue skin but she’s not related to Faker. She’s a Gar, which means she is of the same race that Skeletor once originated from. Just like Skeletor, she’s an evil spell-caster and, also like him, Shokoti has been around for a long time. Long ago she was defeated and imprisoned in a pyramid, until she was released and set loose on He-Man and friends.
Although Shokoti is depicted holding a little green dude in her hand, that’s actually The Sleeping Beast, a creature that has the potential to envelop Eternia in eternal darkness. It was a giant creature that He-Man ironically defeated with a statue of Shokoti. You have to be careful for ancient evils because you never know when they might pop up again!
As excited as we would be to see Wesley Snipes’ Blade sword-fight with He-Man, it’s not going to happen. Sorry, when we say “Blade” is a villain of He-Man, we’re referring to the character that was depicted in the 1987 live action Masters of the Universe film. The actor that played Blade, Anthony De Longis, choreographed most of the sword fighting scenes and his costume weighed around 50 lbs.
He-Man often utilized the classic concept of swords and sorcery, so if Skeletor was the sorcery that definitely meant Blade was the sword part of the equation. His fighting skills were good enough to match that of He-Man, though he was taken out unceremoniously by falling into a bottomless pit (and, as such, he still may be alive). He wears an eye patch from a previous battle with He-Man and he’s thirsty for revenge!
If you owned the toy, then you have a profound memory of how much the character actually smelled in real life. How did Mattel make the Master of Odors so funky? Rumor has it that the toy was made with patchouli oil mixed into the plastic, because they thought just spraying it on would wear off. They were right, and toy collectors are finding that Stinkor is just as smelly now as he was 30 years ago.
Even the writers didn’t want to touch Stinkor, and fans (did he really have fans?) had to wait until the 2002 version of the He-Man cartoon to see the character in action. Stinkor is a Paleezean, who gained his odoriferous powers due to a chemical accident. No, he doesn’t have magical powers or super-strength, but we just checked our old toy collection and remembered why we put that guy in a ziplock bag.
13. BEAST MAN
For those in the know, there are many versions of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, ranging from the live action movie to the various cartoons to the toys and comics both in America and overseas. Although many people are familiar with the bumbling crony of Skeletor from the 1980s cartoon, other versions of Beast Man range from the downright silly to the incredibly savage.
One version of Beast Man lists his legit real name as Biff Beastman who came to Eternia from Earth on the same rocket carrying Marlena Glenn, He-Man’s future mother. Another version gives his real name as Raqquill Rqazz. In almost all versions of the character, he has the ability to control animals, and considering that Eternia is festering with creatures and monsters, that makes Beast Man a potentially potent foe.
Why is it that heroes and villains with water-based powers get absolutely no love? How long did it finally take for Aquaman to get the respect that he deserved? Mer-Man is no different. Is it because his last name sounds like he’s related to singer Ethel Merman or does he get confused with the rapper Merman? Either way, in the 1980s cartoon, Mer-Man was depicted as yet another bumbling henchman of Skeletor, but he’s actually much more.
Mer-Man is technically a king of either a race of aquatic Eternians or he’s the head honcho of all sea-life on Eternia. His real name is also credited as Squidish Rex! Similar to Aquaman, he can communicate and control sea creatures, and if you’ve seen the crazy large and vicious monsters lurking in Eternia’s waters, that means he’s got some crazy monsters at his disposal. Mer-Man, Skeletor is just holding you back!
11. TRAP JAW
At first glance, Trap Jaw is kind of a hot mess. He looks like a combination of Frankenstein, Wreck Gar from Transformers and Mean Machine from Judge Dredd. The real inspiration for the character comes from Jaws; not the shark, but the James Bond villain featured in the 1979 film Moonraker. He was voiced in the 1980s cartoon by Lou Scheimer, whose name is seen in the opening credits since he helped create Filmation, the company that produced He-Man.
Trap Jaw doesn’t need to smell like Stinkor or talk to animals like Beast Man; he is a one-man arsenal, whose right arm is replaced with a gun that can shoot a variety of energy weapons. Although he’s often depicted as dim-witted and bumbling, once he gets his act together, he possesses enough raw firepower to make He-Man think twice about crossing him.
10. THE GAME MASTER
If you liked Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok, then you will probably also be a fan of The Game Master. The Game Master is a fighter who carries weapons that give him an unfair advantage in combat. He travels the galaxy looking to add warriors to his collection of trapped fighters in his Cosmic Arena. He has to resort to kidnapping He-Man’s friends to get him to participate in the Cosmic Arena.
The Game Master was eventually defeated by He-Man and his captives went free. What makes the Game Master such a serious foe is that he’s a sore loser who will do anything including cheat to ensure a victory over his opponents. We also like to picture a buff Jeff Goldblum under the mask and that also makes us incredibly giddy.
Zodac is a hard fellow to describe. To make things worse, we are talking about two characters here: Zodac and Zodak, which might be as confusing as trying to explain Xorn from the X-Men. Zodac from the 1980s He-Man series was an all-powerful character who tried to create balance in the universe, sometimes working with both He-Man and Skeletor to do so. However, the description from his toy describes him as an “Evil Cosmic Enforcer.”
To complicate things more, in the 2002 reboot, Zodak is an immortal warrior out to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the Snake Men. He is focused on revenge, and his desire to avenge his brother Zeelahr has placed him at odds with He-Man. Both versions of the character depict him as neutral but willing to fight He-Man if it conflicts with his interests, and someone that powerful not on He-Man’s side makes him potentially very dangerous.
Whenever He-Man has to team up with Skeletor, you know that the villain is crazy powerful. Such is the case with Sh’Gora, who was originally conjured by Skeletor to help him take over Castle Greyskull. However, Sh’Gora decided to take everything for himself. He turned on Skeletor and bone-face was forced to work with his nemesis to prevent the big brown one-eyed blob from opening a gateway that would pull Eternia into his home dimension.
Why is he such a scary villain? Not only was he able to physically force his way into Castle Greyskull, he was able to overpower the Sorceress. In a move that still haunts us to this day, Sh’Gora zapped the Sorceress with a ray that turned her into a hideous harpy-like creature that attacked He-Man and his allies. Seeing the Sorceress as an evil bird is enough nightmare fuel to put Sh’Gora high on our list.
7. KING HISS
What’s worse than snakes? How about a dude who consists of five snakes that talk in unison? King Hiss is old, so old that he fought against King Greyskull, the guy who Castle Greyskull is eventually named after. In fact, an unproduced spinoff prequel show called Powers of Greyskull was to depict the King and the “Cosmic Warrior He-Ro” fighting against Hordak and King Hiss.
King Hiss was trapped in limbo for a very long time until he was freed by Skeletor. Unlike Skeletor who is mean to his bumbling minions, King Hiss had some pretty good allies and treats them all well (we also hear he’s got a great dental plan). King Hiss is powerful, ancient, resourceful, and has a dedicated snake army at his back. Those things and more make him a deadly nemesis to He-Man.
Sometimes villains hide in plain sight or don’t look that villainous to begin with. Such is the case with Plundor, who (believe it or not) could be one of the worst foes He-Man has ever faced. Although it’s not clear why a giant rabbit was chosen, Plundor was an actual ruler of a planet. He basically turned the planet Trannis into a giant factory, resulting in the planet’s natural resources being depleted, its waters and air polluted.
Normally He-Man’s villains try to take over the planet using a powerful spell or resurrected extra-dimensional being, but not Plundor the Spoiler. His goal is to be the wealthiest creature in existence, and even in real life we know the importance of fearing people who are motivated by unending greed. Forget that he’s a giant purple rabbit, the real scary thing about Plundor is how real his motivations are.
At first glance, he looks like an angry piece of asparagus, but in actuality he’s a villain so powerful it required both He-Man and Skeletor to put aside their differences and join forces to defeat him. We’re talking about Evilseed, a dude so evil that he insisted on putting evil in his name, although he was not evil enough to get a toy made for him. C’mon, Mattel, you should have done it before Vine was discontinued!
Evilseed’s energy sapping vines spread all throughout Eternia, and they couldn’t be stopped by He-Man’s muscle or by Skeletor’s magic. It took their combined efforts to use ice from the Eternian Ice Mountains to make it snow, killing the vines attached to Evilseed. In the 2002 reboot, he’s not as powerful and is downgraded to being an enemy of Moss Man.
When you have Evil literally as a part of your name, that is making a bold statement to everyone around you. There’s no ambiguity with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, there’s nothing to get wrong about who the villains are in The Evil Dead, and you know you’ve got everything to fear if you encounter Evil-Lyn. She’s power-hungry, and although she’s Skeletor’s second-in-command, she has her sights on being the real Evil In Charge.
Evil-Lyn was played by Meg Foster in the live-action film, and did not show off the magic skills she normally wielded in the cartoons. Whereas most of Skeletor’s allies are shown as being bumbling, she is always portrayed as calculating and intelligent. If you thought her eyes were wonderfully light blue, those weren’t contacts; those are the natural eye color of the actress!
Although he’s more associated with She-Ra, He-Man has crossed paths before with Hordak. There are plenty of reasons to hate Hordak, one of them being that he gave us Skeletor. In some versions of the character, Skeletor was a former pupil of Hordak that was eventually banished to Eternia. Where can you find Hordak? He’s currently in control over the planet Etheria. He’s also despicable because he kidnapped Adora, He-Man’s twin sister, when she was a baby. Luckily, she would grow up and beyond his control, becoming the heroic She-Ra!
Similar to Apocalypse from the pages of the X-Men, Hordak has the ability to transform his body into a variety of weapons. He’s turned his arm into a laser cannon and his whole entire body into a working tank. In the cartoon, he is depicted as using more technology and less magic, but in the comics he’s shown to have more magical power than Skeletor.
The Man of Steel vs. The Most Powerful Man in the Universe? It not only happened, it happened multiple times… and it was glorious! The first time was in DC Comics Presents #47 in July of 1982. Thanks to mind control, Skeletor is able to get Superman to fight He-Man. They tussle and Superman is able to overpower He-Man in round one. The second time was in 2013 for DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe.
In the 2013 series, Skeletor and some of his crew come to the DC Universe. Thanks to his maneuverings, He-Man and Superman wind up fighting, and although He-Man holds his own, he’s forced to end the battle by stabbing Superman in the chest with his Sword of Power. It was enough to make the Justice League of America want vengeance against He-Man’s allies, which was Skeletor’s plan all along.
Could anyone else but Skeletor possibly have the top spot? Let’s face it, there are more powerful, more competent villains out there, but Skeletor is the number one villain of He-Man for one reason: his persistence. A hero is only as good as the villain he fights, and if you like He-Man, it’s because you like the qualities that are brought out of him by Skeletor.
Skeletor started out as an evil demon, but evolved into something much more. His backstory was rewritten to make him He-Man’s uncle Keldor, the former brother of Prince Randor. Other versions have him from Gar and a former pupil to Hordak. He’s got a floating yellow skull head over the body of a ripped blue dude with washboard abs. As such, Skeletor is the very embodiment of evil, and deserves the top spot on this or any other similar list. Period.
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