Netflix's He-Man reboot has been panned by fans – and its creator isn't happy

He-Man (Chris Wood) and Skeletor (Mark Hamill) fight in Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Spoilers follow for Masters of the Universe: Revelation.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Netflix's reboot of the 1980s He-Man animated series, has sparked a bitter war of words between parts of its viewership and the show's creator.

The fantasy show, which launched on the streamer on July 23, was universally praised by critics – ourselves included – ahead of its release. 

Despite being lauded as a terrific reinvention of the He-Man TV show, however, fans haven't all seen eye to eye with critics and the series' showrunners – so much so that they've been review bombing it in their droves.

Per Rotten Tomatoes, Masters of the Universe: Revelation's critics and audience review scores couldn't be more polarizing. The animated series has a 94% review score from those who watched it pre-release but, with fans tuning into the show from July 23 onwards, its audience score is a paltry 32% by comparison. On IMDb, the show stands at 4.7/10 based on more than 9,000 user scores at the time of writing. 

With the discourse spilling over onto social media too – He-Man fans have revealed their anger that the show doesn't star the titular character and called it a "woke" revival – the series' showrunner has begun fighting fire with fire.

In a Variety interview posted in the wake of fan backlash, creator Kevin Smith refused to mince his words about the criticism that had been circulating online long before the series premiered on Netflix.

“I see people online go, ‘Hey man, they’re getting rid of He-Man!'” Smith said. “Like, you really f*****g think Mattel Television, who hired me and paid me money, wants to do a f*****g ‘Masters of the Universe’ show without He-Man? Grow the f**k up, man. Like, that blew my mind, bunch of people being like, ‘Oh, I smell it. This is a bait and switch.'”

Not all He-Man fans have slammed the reboot. Some viewers believe that those reacting badly to Revelation are part of a wider problem regarding strong female characters taking the lead in movies and TV shows, while others regarded the reboot as a "pleasant surprise". The discourse, then, seems like it'll run for a while yet.

Analysis: He-Man and the eternal struggle of recreating old properties for modern audiences

Teela, Prince Adam, Beast Man, Evil Lyn and Andra in Netflix's Masters of the Universe: Revelation

(Image credit: Netflix)

Masters of the Universe: Revelation isn't the first movie or TV show to split a fanbase down the middle.

Fan discourse has become a increasingly difficult problem for showrunners, directors, writers and movie creators to deal with. In the last few years alone, we've seen Star Wars and Star Trek fans react badly to the decisions that have been made in polarizing films and TV series including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek: Picard.

Of course, some fans are more open to changes than others and have, in fact, welcomed alterations to the source material.

It's a difficult balancing act to get right, though, and those involved in movies and TV shows with major fanbases won't be able to please everyone all of the time. They can put themselves in "no win" scenarios by altering something too much, or introducing something new to canonized source material that diehard fans won't accept.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation won't be the last property that will receive the reboot treatment. Those series that follow in its footsteps are likely to be updated to reflect the world that we live in today and, by proxy, create similar levels of discontent in sections of their fanbases.

Regardless of where your allegiances lie with Netflix's He-Man reboot, reinventing an old school property for modern audiences is a perpetual struggle – one that showrunners and creators will have to deal with as long as beloved IPs continue to get new reboots, remakes and spin-offs in the years ahead.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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