He reformed VOLTRON, put the Green Arrow in SUPERMAX, and now Justin Marks has the power of GRAYSKULL: THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE!
El Mayimbe here, hope everyone had a great weekend.
Since I read SUPERMAX (which IESB broke today as now being known as GREEN ARROW) a short while ago, I wondered whatever happened to Justin Marks HE-MAN. The deal was announced in Variety back in May of 2007. Well, last week, actually a year to the day the deal was announced, Justin Marks finally delivered his draft. In the words of Ain't-It-Cool-News Moriarty, Justin Marks is easily “the most gainfully employed professional fanboy on the planet right now.”
I managed to get a hold of the script on Friday and actually cancelled my plans that night in order to read it.
What’s the verdict?
Regardless of the post apocalyptic Earth controversy, I liked what Marks did in Voltron. He then knocked it out the park with Supermax, but folks, I am here to tell both you and MOTU fans – Justin Marks has delivered his fanboy masterpiece!
I absolutely fucking loved GRAYSKULL. THE BEST SCRIPT MARKS HAS WRITTEN YET.
There have been a lot of rumors on the net circling Grayskull’s development process and please trust me when I tell you, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE! It’s all bullshit.
GRAYSKULL is LORD OF THE RINGS meets THE MATRIX and a little BATMAN BEGINS thrown in for good measure.
The script takes place in Eternia, not a middle Earth on Earth. It’s a hard and edgy PG-13 tinkering on a R. The script has ZERO CAMP or CHEESINESS. NO FUCKING ORKO EITHER! The writer takes the MOTU mythology very seriously. Whatever made the cartoon corny is not in here at all. In fact, there is not a single beat of comedic relief in the script.
What is GRAYSKULL about? We get both the origin of HE-MAN (or HE-MAN BEGINS), the origin of SKELETOR, and the origin of THE POWER SWORD. If Warners even remotely executes this script like they did 300 they will have a monster hit on their hands because this script leaves it open for a trilogy.
GRAYSKULL is the perfect marriage of Sorcery and Science fiction where in Eternia both Fantasy and Technology co-exist. The character arc of the hero ADAM works for me because like Bruce Wayne in BATMAN BEGINS, Adam has to overcome his selfish need for revenge and realize his destiny for the greater good of his people – the fallen son of Eternia must rise to occasion and become HE-MAN.
Ok, so let’s get right to it because I know you folks are here for the details.
Before the credits we get this kick ass opening prologue narrated by EVIL-LYN.
Four thousand years go in the workshop of Eternus we open on the powerful hands of a blacksmith forging steel from a raging fire. The hands raise the finished SWORD, an amazing mix of katana and high tech. It generates an OUTWARD LIGHT.
At the beginning of time, the blacksmith Eternus forged the Sword Of Light, a blade so beautiful that its spark created all life as we know it. After the blacksmith saw what perfection he’d built, he tried in vain to duplicate his mold. Eventually he fell into madness. Angered by his failure, he forged one last blade before he died. The mirror opposite of its original. The Sword of Darkness.
Instead of light, a dark void burns deep into the surface of this blade. Haunting and ominous.
We are next in an epic battlefield on Eternia.
Both blades, being born of magic gave amazing powers to anyone who held them. And so they were sought after.
On a hilltop plateau, a colossal army marches with enough feet to rattle the earth. Thousands of soldiers, all clad in high-tech battle gear. Think of something out of feudal Japan but poly-alloy and with a hint of alien texture.
Over thousands of years, the swords faced each other army times…
The leader of the army, a king we will come to know as GRAYSKULL (40s), stands at the front and raises the Sword of Light, which bathes his army in a majestic light. On the other of the battlefield: a different army emerges from the fog. Dark and intimidating. Monstrous, snarling BEASTS, augmented by a complex nano-technology that fuses their bodies with mechanical parts. Half monster, half machine. Their leader, a creature masked in thick armor, lifts up the Sword of Darkness. It spreads a black cloud over the army, fueling their bizarre technology with energy.
…until one battle changed it all.
On Grayskull’s side, the soldiers’ battle armor suddenly grows around them like a mechanical shell, encasing their bodies in a high tech metal poly-alloy. On the other side, the snarling beasts rise up, their hydraulic parts expanding and enhancing their size. The two armies run straight at each other and clash violently. Awesome advanced warfare. Mix high tech, swords, and otherworldly creatures and you have a sense of what Eternia’s all about.
King Grayskull squares off against the other leader. During the fight, he manages to defeat him and cause him to drop the Sword of Darkness. Grayskull picks it up and suddenly the two swords begin to fuse together.
It was King Grayskull who first realized that to stop a war between two sides, you had to bring them together.
Metal wrapping around, metal, sparks flying, like a fusion reaction, coils winding down the blades and suddenly and finally nestling at the handle which King Grayskull raises in the air creating a blinding light that spreads over the battlefield. Soldiers on both sides stop fighting and watch in awe.
In that moment, light and darkness combined to form a life-giving magic, subjugating everyone under it’s incredible power. So long as the king lived, Eternia never saw another war again.
We are next in a private chamber, where the much older King Grayskull lies on his death bed, surrounded by well-wishers.
But when his end came, his inner circle feared what no successor would be able to honor the balance the king had created.
Next at a table in the Hall of Wisdom (an ancient temple marked with stone ornamentation), a sacred site, sit six warriors. They are identified by ancient tribal tattoos on their faces. They surround the two swords wrapped in silk.
Six warriors, endowed with the magic of the blades, were trusted with separating them and burying each in a secret location. They were called the Masters of the Universe…
Three masters take one blade, three take the other. They embrace each other and go separate ways.
…and they took these secrets to their graves. For several generations the swords have remained hidden until now.
In present day Eternia at the Sands of Fire, EVIL-LYN (30s) a gorgeous seductress with the same markings all over her face that the Masters wore, has found the location of the Sword of Darkness.
Her companion, obscured in shadow and wearing a heavy hood, scans the terrain. His name is KELDOR (40s).
Keldor reaches for the sword. As his fingers touch it he suddenly undergoes a euphoric vision of dark wonders and endows Keldor with all terrifying forces of black magic. Keldor’s hands wither at the touch of this power. His skin begins to erode. Flesh turns to tissue and then to bone. Soon the sensation spreads to his arms, his shoulders, his face…literally tearing the skin from his bone. He madly clings to the blade as we smash to the main title card GRAYSKULL: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.
Weeks later, we are at Capitol City, the center of civic life in Eternia. A stunning achievement of a civilization that incorporates advanced technology and magic. At the Royal Palace, a colossal celebration is underway – the Anniversary of the Great Unrest commemorating Grayskull’s victory many centuries ago. YOUNG ADAM ( 14) is there – dirty blonde with striking blue eyes. He’s the kind of tough kid who acts first and thinks later. He is there with his father KING RANDOR (50s) –the kind of man you’d have to spend a lifetime living up to. They have a father son moment where Randor tells his son Adam that a true leader brings their people together, whatever their differences. Adam tells his dad that he is not that man. Randor looks down at Adam sadly and wonders if he ever will be.
Meanwhile, at the gates of the Royal Palace, two soldiers walk the palace grounds as fireworks explode in the sky. The first, with a face that has seen the horrors of war and yet still stays above it is GENERAL DUNCAN aka MAN-AT-ARMS (40s). The second is just as tough with battle scars all over his body – KRONIS (30s). Let’s just say Kronis betrays Duncan, knocks him out, and opens the palace gates. A heavy black mist pours through the opening.
Kronis and several Eternian guards stage a coup and try to kill King Randor. King Randor puts up a fight and evens the odds.
A terrifying and powerful presence enters wearing THE CHROME MASK OF A SKULL, clad in armor, a hood over his head, the Sword of Darkness mounted on his back, the man formerly known as Keldor…
…now known as SKELETOR.
Kronis fires a huge blast at Randor who drops to his knees. Randor tells Adam to run. Randor uses what strength he has left and slices KRONIS across the face who screams out and falls backward. MOTU fans know that Kronis will become TRAP-JAW. Skeletor stands over a weakened Randor then he suddenly plunges the Sword of Darkness into Randor’s back, killing him for good – our inciting incident. Adam watches in horror, tears forming in his eyes. Adam escapes and Skeletor gives the order to his goons to kill Adam.
Man At Arms helps Adam escape and instructs him to go to the frontier until the time is right. Skeletor’s dark army lays siege to Captiol City and it falls tragically like Troy.
Adam makes it to the edge of the frontier and collapses beside a cluster of trees on top of a hill. A FALCON perches itself on a branch above him. Majestic, dignified, mysterious . Wind picks up in the clattering of branches, we begin to hear a voice, speaking in a whisper, manipulating the sound of the leaves to shape a language. The voice of the SORCERESS. She tells Adam that his time is not over and shows him his future.
Suddenly, a violent gust of wind tears the leaves from the branches and causes them to float freely in the air, forming the image of CASTLE GREYSKULL.
A beautiful stone structure surrounded by a precipice. Epic in detail and a front face which resembles a GIANT SKULL, complete with a raised drawbridge where the mouth would be. The wind ceases. The leaves fall to the ground. Then the falcon spreads it wings and takes flight.
Days later, in a dust storm, Adam is rescued by ZODAK (40s) wearing heavy animal hides and high-tech gear strapped across his chest. A powerful black man, an experienced warrior. Across Zodak’s face and arms are several mystical tattoos similar to what the Masters wore earlier. Zodak belongs to the Order of the Masters. Protectors of the legacy of Greyskull.
For the next 10 pages or so, reminiscent of Batman Begins, Adam gets mentored by Zodak for the next seven years and turns the pampered 14yr old Prince Adam into a 21 yr old bad ass warrior. We get some more cool backstory which I prefer not to spoil. Basically, Adam has to prove himself worthy of the Sword of Light and to use the power of the Sword to create balance, to fight for something greater than himself. We find out that Keldor/Skeletor was actually King Randor’s brother…Adam’s uncle.
We also find out that the Sorceress is the only surviving member of the original Six Masters of the Universe. Now she is the protector of Castle Greyskull. If Adam can get the Sorceress to unlock the Sword of Light, he will be able to stand up to his uncle and take back Eternia. But first, Adam has to prove himself worthy and find Castle Greyskull which is well hidden. So the script also throws in a treasure hunt for good measure and executed perfectly.
The Masters once spoke about the Legend of the He-Man. A fallen son who would find the Sword of Light and unify his kingdom. Will Adam fulfill his destiny? Well, I guess we are going to have to wait and see what Warner Brothers decides to do. I hope to God they make this because you can see the effort it took over a year to complete this draft. The script is lean, mean, got no fat, no camp or cheese and is full of story and action. A special effects house is going to have a field day with the set pieces and battles that take place throughout the story. Like I said earlier, Warners executes this remotely like 300 – they have a monster hit and a potential franchise on their hands. My sources tell me the young execs behind Grayskull are MOTU fanboys that are passionate about this project and are really trying hard to take this to the next level.
Ok, so Silver Pictures took a bit of a hit with Speed Racer, so what? Silver Pictures has in their possession, a script that lays out the blueprint for a movie that is guaranteed to be a fanboy classic. All that made He-man corny, even that forgettable Dolph Lundgren movie is not here. MOTU fans get the movie they have been wishing for over 25 years. I got some bad news folks, unfortunately, pertaining to HE-MAN, since Silver took a hit with Speed Racer, Warners has been unresponsive to Silver projects.
Hands down folks, Justin Marks listened to the fanboys and wrote the next potential Lord of the Rings. Mr. Silver, Mr. Horn, and Mr. Robinov, I hope you are reading this. You would be insane not to at least look at this. Give this script to any creative exec in their early 30s at the studio and I dare you guys to tell me that I’m dead wrong about Grayskull.
Anyway, in spite of the writer’s strike, this has so far been a damn good year for scripts and GRAYSKULL: THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is already and easily in my top five. I would spoil a lot more but I hope the groundwork I presented today gets all you fans excited. It would be a disservice to spoil more but I leave you with this, the supporting characters.
Along with SKELETOR and EVIL-LYN, the bad guys are TRAP-JAW, TRI-KLOPS (Skeletor’s main henchman), and BEAST MAN. Skeletor’s evil cat PANTHOR is in here too.
The good guys that side with Adam along with ZODAK are MEKANEK, MAN-AT-ARMS, his daughter TEELA, and of course BATTLECAT. Battlecat is totally bad ass in this.
Bad guy vehicles? How about ROTONS, DOOMSEEKERS, and SHADOW BEASTS!
So there ya have it.
HASTA EL PROXIMO CAPITULO….
…YO SOY EL MAYIMBE!
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