Everything old is new again, when it comes to the return of some beloved television properties in new re-imaginings. Sometimes the altered program is highly welcomed by old fans when shown, as in the Netflix exclusive animated series “Voltron: Legendary Defender” by Dreamworks Animation. Sometimes they get maligned, as with the July 16 reveal of Dreamworks’ next series revival, “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power”, which is a new take on the companion show of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” based on toy-lines from Mattel. Critics slammed the new character designs for straying from the original, but they have also found defenders who have started working these designs into their own fan art.
The Verge tells us that two camps of opposing thoughts have formed regarding the recently announced “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” animated series. One side is openly disdainful of the new character designs by Noelle Stevenson, which depicted the titular character as athletic with none of the voluptuousness from the original 1980s designs of the Filmation cartoons. The other faction on the other hand is positively supportive of the changes to the point that they are drawing fan art of it. Even better, these artists are mostly women, who are supposed to be the target audience for “She-Ra”.
Indeed, Mattel initially created the She-Ra line of toys following the success of their initial He-Man series, hoping to market her to girls the way boys embraced He-Man. The original cartoon series created by Filmation hewed to the He-Man design convention of having all characters sharing a body type according to gender: muscular males and svelte females. The new “Princesses of Power” remake goes out of the way to make each character distinct in body shape and even in ethnicity, something traditional fans of She-Ra have trouble accepting. More embittered fans even point to an imagined conspiracy of “feminist over femininity” where the designs are concerned.
To this, a wave of counter-arguments has been given. One of these comes from J. Michael Straczynski, writer for film, TV and comic books who had also worked on the Filmation “She-Ra” animated series. Straczynski described the characterization of She-Ra as “a warrior, first and foremost”; fans of the character who then described She-Ra as the “idealized woman” are noted by Straczynski to have done so as prepubescent interest, not part of the creative intent.
There is no release date yet for “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power”, which will join fellow Dreamworks series “Voltron: Legendary Defender” on Netflix. However, actress Aimee Carrero has been announced to voice She-Ra and her alter ego Adora, twin sister to Prince Adam of Eternia aka He-Man. Series developer Noelle Stevenson is openly LGBT.
Image courtesy of Comic Book Resources