Masters of the Universe (1987)

masters of the universe 1987 movie poster
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

He-Man comes to the big screen

Favorite characters never really translate in the film,

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Masters of the Universe

Studio:  Cannon Films

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 7, 1987

MPAA Rating:  PG


Dolph…sorry if I don’t take any acting tips from you…I’m going to find new friends

He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher), Teela (Chelsea Field), and a Thenorian named Gwildor (Billy Barty) make a raid of Castle Grayskull in the hopes of usurping Skeletor (Frank Langella) who has taken the Sorceress (Christina Pickles) prisoner.  Forced to flee using Gwildor’s Cosmic Key, He-Man and his allies end up on Earth.  Finding help from Julie Winston (Courteney Cox) and Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill), He-Man and his allies are faced with an invasion force from Eternia and must stop Skeleton from conquering Earth as well.


Hey Gwildor…thanks for stopping by and ruining my childhood dream

Directed by Gary Goddard, Masters of the Universe was based on the popular toy line.  The movie was met with mostly negative reviews and fared poorly at the box office.

I was a Masters of the Universe junkie growing up.  I had all the toys.  I read and re-read the mini-comics.  I watched the Filmation TV show (plus She-Ra:  Princess of Power).  I was totally pumped for a Masters of the Universe movie…about 4 years before this movie was released.  By the time Masters of the Universe movie was released in 1987, most kids had moved on.


Hey, it’s Grizzlor…I mean Beast Man! Yeah…

Even with a faded interest in the movie, I still went into the movie with excitement.  Unfortunately, makers based the story on the original comics (no Prince Adam or many of the aspects fans were familiar with), and even Orko had to be replaced by Gwildor (Billy Barty got a Razzie nomination for his performance).  The movie barely featured any known characters and my favorite Beastman looked more like Grizzlor and didn’t do anything (yep, the geek comes out).  The most interesting character design was Saurod who immediately gets killed before doing anything.

The decision to make Earth the battlefield wasn’t out of left field since in the cartoon had Adam’s mother coming from Earth (and even a trip to Earth in the holiday special).  If they had remained with the cartoon plot, this would have worked much better…but they chose to have this rather ’80s plot with music and synthesizers.


I’m pretty fly for a skeleton guy!

Two interesting aspects of Masters of the Universe are that it was a homage to Jack Kirby and many of the characters can be lined up with Jack Kirby’s Fourth World (complete with Boom Tubes).  The links were intentional, and a credit to Kirby was dropped by the studio.  The interesting aspect is that it was intended to have a sequel and the script was modified for the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg.

Masters of the Universe was a sad disappointment to a kid.  Watching it now, it does have some fun aspects, in a bad-’80s-film sort of way.  Dolph Lundgren and many of the actors have said the experience was miserable but time changes everything and even Lungren has said he’d cameo in a new Masters of the Universe movie.

Related Links:

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 1

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 2:  Origins of Eternia

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 3

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 4:  What Lies Within

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 5:  The Blood of Grayskull

He-Man and She-Ra:  A Christmas Special (1985)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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