I wrote a few weeks back how Masters Of The Universe is screaming out for a modern retelling, and today the long gestating project got a boost with Thor:Rangarok writer Graham Yost being announced as writing the movie.
We don't need an origin story here, anything like that can be done in an opening montage/flashback - we want HeMan v Skeletor off the bat and NO Gwildor type shenanigans, or even Orko... not for this movie.
I've long said there are two ways this can go - either an R-Rated (or close to), Game Of Thrones-esque adventure, or a Starsky & Hutch style comedy, made for fans of the original to have fun with rather than to launch a serious new franchise.
This fan cast is taking the former of the two approaches. I think I'd rather see this over the comedy, but it's a pretty close run thing as Your Majesty proved this thing can be done pretty well.
But we're going into the darkened realm of Eternia, for a battle between good and evil... here I cast some of the Heroes, the villains and the other characters needed to make this work...I repeat NO ORKO... if that's a deal breaker, then move along ;)
First off we need a strong threat for Eternia to face in Skeletor, and his evil band of monsters, there'll be no invented villains like Karg this time out, only original badass beasts... so of course the first is...
The quinessential henchman, loyal, vicious and very much in vogue right now. My suggested actor has played a similar type without the fur, he is Game Of Thrones' Mountain... Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson
I was very close to choosing Rory McCann for this role, but Beast Man should be literally a beast and at three inches taller, The Mountain shows that. He is no stranger to showing ferocity in fight scenes and as the role won't require much in the way of dialogue he could blend into the role with a mix of CGI and prosthetic work. This Beast Man is the semi-final fight, and takes all of He-Man's power to defeat, he also kills a lot of people!
This character is almost essential, but not as the comic relief he was in the cartoon series. Trap Jaw is the resident mercenary of Skeletor's group and the equivelant character to a Boba Fett, Starscream or Kraven. He wants money, doesn't care who he has to kill to get it and has his own ideas if he can get his hands on the sword of power. For this movie he will be CG'd to have the horrific metal jaw and weaponised hand. As such a strong actor with his eyes will be important. To me this should be Joel Edgerton.
He can get the physique needed and his recent turn in The Gift showed he can play a manipulative and evil character VERY effectively.
Her name matches her nature, she is the witch who helps Skeletor and hopes to supplant The Sorceress as the mistress of Greyskull. She is manipulative, conniving and terrifyingly beautiful.
If she hadn't played similar roles already, Charlize Theron would be perfect for this, but it's been done. So I go for someone who has a history of villainess playing, but not so much the magical kind. Rosamund Pike.
Pike is hot enough to convince, can play psycho enough to be Skeletor's babe and hold her own in action scenes, having been a Bond girl. She'd also be smokin with cropped blond hair!
The tactician of the group, this iteration of the character is the direct counterpart to Man-At-Arms, older, wise but strong and seemingly granted powers by Skeletor in order to serve him, with a history between them going back to his former life that is hinted at.
As the actor's face is mainly covered by his CG visor, age of actor isn't AS important but it has to be someone who can convincingly play as Skeletor's trusted advisor/leader of his armies.
I've gone for Arnold himself as it's now the kind of role he would be able to play. He has the look that he was once the "strongman soldier" but now advises more and uses his visor abilities to ensure victory from afar. Beast Man is taking the strength role, it's also a nod that Arnie was the actual inspiration for He-Man (more later).
While strictly to canon, Modulok is part of the Horde and works for Hordak, I am taking license here and using the character as a CG/MoCapped villain.
This was the toy that you could take apart and rebuild loads of different ways, on film he'd be the spy for Skeletor and more of a shapeshifter, taking on people's appearances before revealing his final horrific form. In terms of Mo-Cap then Doug Jones is the ideal here, Modulok and Abe Sapien could be related in appearance. In terms of voice work, someone like Mark Hamill might be interesting.
So those are your villains, in the middle, holed up in Castle Greyskull is...
There are some "obvious choices" here. Again we need an older actress, who can portray wise (and be implied to be He-Man/Adam's mother) and beautiful as well as formidable. Someone like Tilda Swinton is obvious but I'm not feeling it. This is more than the Winona role in Star Trek, we need a serious actress here.
To me the right actress is Nicole Kidman. 20 years ago, she could have played She-Ra, which lends itself to her being her and He-Man's mom. She has the right age now and stately looks to make The Sorceress work.
We've established that she is in fact mommy to Price Adam/He-Man so that means we need a dad (who is clearly going to die), who dies well in movies?
Sean Bean is an obvious candidate, but I feel he's not quite right for King Randor, likewise Liam Neeson. My choice here will satisfy a lot of fanboys.
This is, what is in reality a cameo or flashback appearance, and Hugh is at the right age to play this role as a father figure. He's worked with Kidman before so there's a good chemistry there and once he has the full beard etc then the only downer is the accent - he may not quite sound regal enough. But it would be a great battle scene to see King Randor and who becomes Skeletor fighting side by side and he'd die REALLY well.
So we come to the heroes...
This is the right-hand man of King Randor who then serves his son and He-Man, he's the only one other than the Sorceress alive who knows Adam's secret. This is in many ways the role that is the heart of the movie as Duncan has to protect his daughter's feelings from her "crush", lie to her and in our iteration, want to avenge his master and the two who betrayed him, Skeletor & Tri-Klops... yep this guy is gonna fight Arnie.
Who is of a similar age who could make this work, has the mentor role and the physicality to make it work? Russell Crowe of course.
Crowe now is the perfect guy to be a father to Teela, a surrogate dad to Adam and a warrior all in one. There could be a nice throwback moment referencing his Gladiator role and of course who wouldn't want to see Crowe vs Schwarzenegger onscreen, even at their advanced ages?
The proud warrior maiden and potential love interest for both He-Man & Adam, it'd be very easy to make this a carbon copy of Lady Sif. But she needs to be her own woman, rebellious, flirty and more than a match for the men. There is one choice for me... Karen Gillan.
Teela is the mirror of Nebula in many ways but the role would let her more comedic sensibilities come out, as well as her bad-ass attitude. She'd also be someone who could set Adam's pulse racing yet only have eyes for his alter-ego.
Yes, I get that the concept is cartoony and that should mean Orko, but there is room for one full voice role and I think that BattleCat gives us that opportunity. The twist here is that I would make it part of The Scorceress's magic and that she has in fact saved the "spirit" of King Randor and Cringer is just the "mask", when BattleCat is unleashed, it's the full ferocity of King Randor the warrior. It'd be a nice wrinkle and a way to keep the concept of his father alive.
For Cringer, I can't think of anyone better than Toby Jone's voice - Dobby-esque tones would suit the character... of course BattleCat won't speak, to preserve the secret but for a very cool moment when BattleCat finally roars a word in Jackman's tones, making the reveal and allowing a final moment between father & son.
The chance for a fun character in the movie and maybe some height reducing CGI. Ram-Man has that dual leaping/battering ram quality that would make him a fun sidekick character. The cartoon version had more than a little bit of Shrek about him and while I don't advocate Mike Myers, there wouldn't be much harm in having a more comedic actor in this role. It's too Drax-like for Dave Bautista but someone like Karl Urban could easily play this part as taciturn but unintentionally funny.
This is the guy who stays neutral and is almost the "referee" of the war. He's not from Eternia but is more of the end of movie stinger along with Hordak. This is another masked character, so it's a chance to have some fun with a mystery casting for the fans, you wouldn't know until then who is playing him - It's a perfect potential cameo for Dwayne Johnson to show up in.
So we come to our main event - the two who are the real "Masters Of The Universe".
There is one name, face and voice that I can see as both Skeletor and the man he once was... Jason Isaacs.
His look is suitably skeletal to begin with, he looks the part and with CGI/Make-up would be a horrific Skeletor. Not only that but his disdainful, low voice is perfect for the character. He's small enough that he would need to surround himself with the others to protect him from He-Man. He's someone you could guy as King Randor's brother who murders him at terrible cost to himself and would bring some gravitas to the villain role, much as Frank Langella did the first time around, just no dumb headgears this time Just an evil skeleton guy who murdered his brother to possess his power, only to split it asunder.
The obvious choice would be Chris Hemsworth, although the role would be one step too close to Thor for it not to suffer from his casting. Chris Pratt isn't "action" enough to play He-Man, even if he'd be a great Adam. Charlie Hunnam would be great if not already playing King Arthur.
So I'm going a little left-field here, but with the runner up for Thor... Tom Hiddleston.
Ok, yes he isn't the big height, but he can clearly get into pretty good shape to be in with a shout for Thor in the first place and again, perhaps a little CGI on the He-Man part.
Even if not - with the size of some of the monsters already cast, if he was 6ft 5" he'd still seem tiny against the villains as I'm suggesting.
That's kind of the point - He-Man was never the tallest guy, but more the perfectly proportioned guy, and the sword has the power remember.
What would Hiddleston bring to it? Sure he's played a prince who wants to be king already, but this time he is a forced king - who isn't ready to be one as himself - but he gets handed Alter-Ego from legend that he's invincible.
There's a lot of mileage in the struggles with this, as Adam he's seen to be "foppish" and naive but he has that power within him that he can't tell the world about. He-Man can't be king, he has to be... There's a Bruce Wayne quality to it that Tom would make work.
The real stinger is that he is not the original He-Man, Tri-Klops/Arnie was! That would work pretty damn well that He-Man betrayed his king, splitting the sword in two.
That Tom didn't get Thor but Loki also works for him as this would be a different type of character, the issue that Hemsworth would face, however perfect on paper he is for it wouldn't apply the same to Hiddleston.
The biggest thing he has, is fan popularity. He is LOVED as Loki, a villain - a lot of people would equally love to see him in a role where he gets to be the big hero and if guys like Crowe, Jackman and the like are involved, THEY can get into insane shape, so can he with their help.