Justin Marks Talks He-Man IESB.net
In the new issue of Toyfare
out this week, screenwriter Justin Marks talks about what he has planned for He-Man and Skeletor.
TOYFARE: How did you get involved with writing the He-Man script?
He-Man came about as a result of a mutual collaboration with [co-screenwriter] Neil Ellice and the guys at Silver Pictures. We came together and married a take that we all really loved and that we felt would be true to Eternia for the first time. And we campaigned and pushed–everything short of getting on my hands and knees begging–for Mattel to hear it, and they did. We got in the room and we basically spoke through not only one movie, but three movies, all the way down through our dreams for the titles for the second and third movies and which characters appeared when.
Do you think the public is going to have a hard time accepting He-Man as an action hero?
A lot of people think of He-Man and they think of that guy with the bob haircut and the Arnold Schwarzenegger archetype and laugh him off, but those of us who grew up on him, we don't laugh about He-Man at all. There are great ideas in there that we've never seen on film . . . and hopefully we soon will.
Is he still going to be called He-Man?
[Laughs] We're doing something very interesting with that. But . . . yeah. Obviously you can't make a He-Man movie and be afraid of the word "He-Man." You have to get into there. But I think fans will be very pleased when they see how "He-Man" is spoken.
Do you have a villain yet?
Oh, it's a Skeletor movie. Obviously we can only speak in broad strokes, but how about this? Thus far, at least, there are no invented new characters plopped into it–and if we and Mattel have our way there will never be. We're talking about the He-Man mythology. So what we're talking about doing, in the same way as Batman Begins, we're going back to the original thing, let's build it from the ground up again. How can we find our way in? How can we jump into Adam's life at an interesting point where new audiences will respect him? It's an Adam origin story, and it's a Skeletor origin story. We want to see where both of them come from and how they got that way. If we don't see the humanity and the truth in what Skeletor's trying to do, then the story's not compelling.
Are there any wishes you would have for casting?
Let me just say we don't want wrestlers. [Laughs] I'm not saying he should be He-Man, but Michael Biehn is my all-time favorite actor. You go to Hicks or Kyle Reese, and James Cameron created that action hero type, and I feel like I always write with the mindset of that type of hero who doesn't exist these days. He's that guy who, if he took a weapon and said, "Follow me," I'd be right behind him.
How are you going to incorporate all the . . . let's say disparate elements of the He-Man mythology?
He-Man is sword-and-sandals meets science fiction. If you avoid it and just try to make it sword and sandals, then it becomes a boring movie. If you just try to make it science fiction, it's going to be really kitschy and weird, and it's not going to be true to He-Man. You have to make it both. So we have to come up with specific ideas, grounded, that would spawn a world that was people carrying around swords, and yet, guys like Tri-Klops running around with his spinning visor and this sort of nano-technological way about him. What is the sorcery that can create stuff like that?
So you're really sticking fairly closely to the original world?
There's some stuff going around . . . we should clear that up. There's some rumor spreading that he's a soldier in the Iraqi war. Where did they get that? This is an Eternian movie and it's a story about an Eternian hero. We're not going to Earth, here. We're not going to the modern world. We're not going to a strip mall in the Valley. [Laughs] By the way, I think there are really great things about the original Masters of the Universe.
What kind of questions?
If you remember, He-Man [toys], very early on, had two halves of the sword–Skeletor had half, He-Man had half and you could clip them together. And that was discarded by the cartoon. And I'm not sure if I can tell you but we finally got the answer to [why there are two halves], because it'll be something that I think can affect the movie.
So Mattel has been pretty helpful to work with, then?
Mattel has been really great when we say, "Look, we need something for this scene, something along the lines of this." And they usually have stuff in their library that's like, "No, it should be like this," and we're like, "Great!" So it's been really fan-friendly in that regard. When this movie comes out–and hopefully some day it will, because things look really stacked in its favor after Transformers
–people will watch this movie and say, "I can't believe it took this long for a He-Man movie to get to the screen," because of how naturally the original material suits itself to a great, Lord-of-the-Rings-scale and yet high-tech, cool movie.
Pick up a copy of Toyfare
magazine today to read the complete interview.