“Masters of the Universe” is one of the most popular franchises in the United States and around the world. Originally launched in 1982 as a toy line by Mattel, a 1983 TV show in partnership with Filmation made the characters fixtures of pop culture. The “MOTU” has been adapted into three more animated series, several comic books and a feature film.
With all that activity, there have been dozens of characters with a wide variety of skills, from Jitsu (the master of martial arts) to Leech (the master of “power suction”). However, there are only a handful who could be called the most powerful on the planet Eternia. With Sony Pictures working on a rebooted feature film of “Masters of the Universe,” the team at CBR would like to run down the 15 most powerful characters in the “MOTU.”
Mer-Man was one of the first figures released in 1982 for the “Masters of the Universe” toy line. With his distinctive green skin, huge eyes, finned head and nose-less face, he had a unique look that made him a favorite among fans. They even reused his body for the other action figure, Stinkor, just with a different chest armor and smellier plastic. Besides the toys, Mer-Man became one of Skeletor’s biggest henchmen on the animated cartoon.
Despite Mer-Man’s goofy appearance, he’s actually a very powerful being on Eternia. He’s a master of the ocean, a king of the Crystal Sea, and ruler over all the creatures within it. He also has Aquaman-like powers to control sea life by using telepathy. He’s not as strong as He-Man, but he does have some super-strength, especially underwater. The fact that he plays second fiddle to Skeletor is more about how tough Skeletor is than Mer-Man’s weakness.
14. BEAST MAN
Beast Man was one of the first four action figures released for “Masters of the Universe” in 1982, making him He-Man’s oldest enemy next to Skeletor. Beast Man has a brutish look with fur, fangs, gorilla-like arms and a whip as his main weapon. He’s always been seen as one of Skeletor’s most loyal henchman, and one of the deadliest of the evil warriors, even though he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.
As the master of animals, Beast Man can control any animal on Eternia, which gives him enormous power. At a moment’s notice, he can command an army of creatures to oppose He-Man, often whipping them into submission. He also has superhuman strength that lets him throw boulders like Frisbees. Beast Man was one of the characters who made the jump to the 1987 live-action “Masters of the Universe” movie, where he was portrayed as a growling savage called the Beastman, but was still awesome.
13. THE STARCHILD
Directed by Lou Zokor and written by J. Brynne Stephens and Arthur Browne Jr., 1983’s “The Starchild” introduced a little girl who had enormous magical power. The show never really got into where she came from, literally dropping her into the story as two groups fought for control over her. He-Man saved her and took her back to the castle, where they discovered why everyone was after her: it was so they could exploit her abilities.
The Starchild doesn’t show much of her power, but what she does is pretty impressive. She uses it to create an energy beam and wrap up a monster, and put a force field over a door that even He-Man couldn’t break through. Her power only got its due in her second appearance, “Bargain With Evil,” where the Starchild was kidnapped because she has the power to open a gateway to other dimensions like the Realm of Evil. She’s one tough toddler.
The planet of Eternia wouldn’t be a true fantasy world without dragons, but they didn’t really show up on “Masters of the Universe” much until 1983. Written by Larry DiTillio and directed by Lou Zukor, the episode “The Dragon’s Gift” introduced the ancient dragon, Granamyr. Granamyr was the leader of a community of dragons living in Darksmoke, having decided to isolate themselves from humans on Eternia. When Skeletor turned Man-at-Arms into a crystal statue, He-Man needed to find the dragons in order to find a way to reverse the spell, so they turned to Granamyr.
Granamyr is over 10,000 years old, making him one of the oldest beings on Eternia. He also has incredible magic power with spells beyond even the Sorceress, and commands the dragons, who fought a war against the humans millennia ago. According to an interview on the DVD, DiTillio created Granamyr as an enemy that He-Man couldn’t beat physically, forcing the Most Powerful Man to use his brains instead of his brawn.
Zodac is a more complicated character in the “MOTU,” which tends to slot people into either pure good or pure evil. Zodac started out as a figure in 1982 labeled “Evil Cosmic Enforcer,” but DC’s comics made him more of a neutral character who worked to keep the balance between good and evil. The 1983 TV episode “The Search,” directed by Steve Clark and written by David Wise, introduced Zodac with the same neutrality. A later episode revealed Zodac as a member of the Council of the Wise, which holds all knowledge and wisdom.
As far as physical power, Zodac comes up a little short. He didn’t fight with super-strength or speed, and he didn’t cast huge spells or use mighty weapons. What he did have was knowledge. On the show, Zodac was almost omniscient, able to see and know everything in the universe, even He-Man’s secret identity. If knowledge is power, then Zodac really is the most powerful man in the universe.
10. KING HISS
King Hiss never appeared on the original TV show, but he still loomed large over the Masters of the Universe as an action figure released in 1985. King Hiss was a member of a new line of enemies, which were called the Snake Men for obvious reasons. Besides his snake-like name, King Hiss looked like a man in a green scaly outfit. That is, until you popped off his human skin to show his upper body was just a cluster of five snakes.
Kiss Hiss has ancient magical powers going back to the days of the Elders, making him one of the most lethal enemies on Eternia. In the 2002 animated series, it was revealed in the second season that King Hiss (along with his Snake Men) originally built and ruled in Snake Mountain until he was defeated by King Grayskull and banished to another dimension. The Snake Men were later freed by Skeletor to pick up where they left off. The only one King Hiss fears is Hordak, who we’ll get to later on.
9. THE SORCERESS
The Sorceress is best known as the bird-headed chick who gave He-Man his magical sword and armor that gave him his powers, but she’s a lot more than that. Originally, she was the figure called the Goddess of Eternia who had a snake-themed outfit and staff, and was described in the mini-comics as the one who empowered He-Man. When the 1983 TV series hit the air, the Sorceress became the force behind He-Man, and the Goddess became a separate character.
As for the Sorceress, she has magic powers that rival almost anyone else on Eternia, allowing her to telepathically communicate with others anywhere on the planet. She can also see the past, present and future, teleport, fly, create shields, and throw fire balls. She uses all her powers to protect Castle Grayskull and by extension, Eternia. Her biggest limitation is that her powers are limited to within Castle Grayskull. Outside the castle, her power is reduced mainly to changing into the falcon known as Zoar.
In 1985, Mattel decided to try to capture the female market with a new line and TV show called “She-Ra: Princess of Power.” She started out as Princess Adora, a brainwashed captain of the Evil Horde ruling the parallel world of Etheria, but discovered she was the twin sister of Prince Adam. With her Sword of Protection, she transforms into She-Ra and leads a rebellion.
Just like He-Man, her strength is where most of her power lies. She can lift objects as big as mountains. She also has super-speed, some empathy-related powers and the ability to communicate with animals. Her sword can absorb energy blasts and fire energy beams, which she used mainly against her robotic enemies, and the sword could even change shape to become things like boomerangs or parachutes when she needed them. She-Ra’s greatest power, though, was her ability to work with others to find nonviolent ways to solve problems. Don’t call her the female He-Man. She’s much, much more.
The evil Hordak first appeared in “The Secret of the Sword,” a TV movie from 1985 that introduced She-Ra, and was her nemesis on her TV series. He was sort of like a much more successful version of Skeletor. Hordak is the supreme ruler of the planet Etheria, leading his army of Horde Troopers against the Resistance of She-Ra. Not satisfied with just that, he also has plans to overthrow Eternia.
Besides having the power of the Horde Empire, which includes vehicles, spaceships and an entire planet’s armies and infrastructure on his side, Hordak has enormous power himself. He has mastered the power of magic and also harnessed science, using both to turn transform parts, and sometimes all, of his body into any machine he wants from a rocket to a cannon to a flamethrower. In the 2002 rebooted series, Hordak became a powerful sorcerer who was banished to the dimension of Despondos, and worked with Skeletor to free himself from it, upon which he remained a deadly threat.
Written by Larry DiTillio and directed by Marsh Lamore and Lou Kachivas, the two-part episode “House of Shokoti” introduced the evil sorceress Shokoti to the Masters of the Universe. When an archaeological dig found an ancient pyramid on the dark side of Eternia, it released a woman who had been imprisoned for centuries inside it. Shokoti fought He-Man in order to release the Lovecraftian “Sleeping Beast” and bring darkness across the world.
Shokoti has incredible power with the ability to shoot beams from her eyes and hands, as well as make people see illusions of whatever she wants. She also has an army of tentacled creatures called darklings under her command that can fly and are strong enough to tie up He-Man, but what really makes her a threat is her control over the monstrous Sleeping Beast. She would have taken over the world if it weren’t for her weakness to light.
5. MOSS MAN
First introduced as an action figure in 1985, Moss Man was a plant-based counterpart to Beast Man. His toy even used the same body as Beast Man, just repainted in green and covered in fuzz. He appeared only briefly on the original show as a spy in the episode “Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere,” written by Cinnamon Wengrod and directed by Steve Clark, but never had a major role. He got a much bigger role in the 2002 episode “Orko’s Garden,” where he was considered an urban legend like Bigfoot.
Moss Man has a lot of similarities to Swamp Thing, who’s one of the most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe. Moss Man can change his body into any plant, allowing him to blend in perfectly, and can also control plants to make them grow or move to do whatever he wants. With his power over plant life, Moss Man is a god who essentially has control over most the surface of Eternia, making him the master of the planet’s biosphere. Thankfully, he’s on the side of good.
4. THE GODDESS
In the beginning, it was the Goddess of Eternia who gave He-Man his sword and armor, but she never had an action figure. She first appeared in the mini-comics bundled with the 1982 action figures, written by Donald F. Glut, called “He-Man and the Power Sword,” where she’s described as a sorceress who took him to get the weapons to fight evil. However, that changed quickly.
Later on, when the 1983 animated series aired, the Sorceress became the one who gave He-Man his gear and power. The Goddess became a separate being who was worshiped by Eternia for thousands of years, and who was the source of power for Grayskull and the Sorceress.
In the original figures, Teela and the Goddess were basically the same, except the Goddess had auburn hair. In fact, the two were packaged as one action figure, with Teela coming with a removable, distinctive snake-themed headdress and staff. That way, you could choose which character you wanted her to be.
She’s the most evil woman on Eternia, so much so that they even put “evil” in her name, just so we don’t get her confused. Evil-Lyn is Skeletor’s second-in-command and one of his most trusted henchmen, although that trust might be misplaced, since she’s said many times during the series that she wanted to betray him. She’s a beautiful woman with very little conscience who craves power over everything else, including morals. She’s one of the few female members of Skeletor’s warriors, but often proves herself to be more deadly than all of them.
Her magic is some of the most powerful on Eternia and has enormous potential. On the show, she could shoot energy beams from her hands and eyes, and turn people into different animals or into stone. She once turned herself into a ball of fire, but she could also disguise herself as different people, fooling friends and enemies alike. She wields a scepter that gives her magical powers, and can use a lot of other magical artifacts when needed.
While there are a lot of evil people on Eternia, the clear winner in that category is Skeletor, the master of evil. He’s one of the first four figures created for the “Masters of the Universe” line in 1982 and has been a part of the series since the original mini-comics and episodes. He’s the archenemy of He-Man and has dedicated every waking moment to conquering Eternia, focusing mainly on trying to take over Castle Grayskull, which would give him the power to enforce his rule over the planet.
As far as mystical power, there’s no one known on Eternia who stands above Skeletor. His abilities are mind-boggling, and he’s been shown firing everything from energy beams to ice beams, teleporting himself and others across the planet, making illusions, opening portals to other dimensions, and seems familiar with every magical artifact out there. About the only limitations Skeletor seems to have is the power of Grayskull, and the incompetence of his own minions.
Skeletor probably would have already taken over Eternia if it weren’t for the awesome power of He-Man. Once a young prince, Adam was given the power of He-Man by the Sorceress, and can transform by holding up his magic sword and saying the iconic words, “By the power of Grayskull!” He-Man was the first figure created for the toy line released in 1982, and all other characters and stories followed him.
Of course He-Man is at the top of the list. He’s the self-proclaimed “most powerful man in the universe.” That power comes from his strength, which is almost limitless. He’s been shown to punch through solid metal, pick up entire mountains, and once even lifted Castle Grayskull to throw it into a dimensional portal. With his strength comes superhuman speed, acrobatic skills that let him flip and jump like a gymnast, and durability that can withstand explosions. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s armed with his indestructible sword. He’s a powerhouse of goodness, and the real master of the universe.