A very close look at The Ultimate villain!
After the surprising and very good reception on my article about Krang, I decided to do one more article that would focus on my all time favorite villain - Skeletor.
There's so much to say about Skeletor. He is such a well developed character that Im surprised that no one wants to make a modern He-Man movie with the world, history and characters developed so well and with so much detail that it could easily rival with the Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings and Star Trek worlds. Different species, magic, story of the castle and it's guardians - it's all on the plate. Very well crafted franchise that ultimately stopped on being a cartoon and comic book series, but maybe it's better this way since the cartoons are so good.
First of all, what I loved about the 80's cartoons was life like animation. People looked very real, and the background was actually a big painting. That alone created a mystical vibe. Another thing was the mystique - we had never seen everything, we always used to get just slightly less information than we wanted and that fed our imagination and developed the legend and that certain mysterious aura around characters. For example, we had never seen Cobra Commander's face, how brilliant that is!
Same with Skeletor in the original, highly popular cartoon series. There was never anything black on white with the villains in the 80's (damn I love the 80's!). If you didn't pay attention to every trivial detail, you only knew that Skeletor is the evil lord of destruction and master of black magic. His appearance and flirtation with black magic met some criticism back in the days when the cartoon was being accused of promoting Occultism/Satanism. As silly as it is, you do have to admit that Skeletor is a character out of a medieval horror movie. I always thought he would be a good fit in the Willow universe, espeically with General Kael there, who wore a Skeleton mask.
He would also be a perfect fit for Conan's world. No wonder since He-Man was basically based on Conan. If you think about it, it's the same thing with the only differences being the hair color and a little mix of sci fi in the Fantasy world.
Overall, Skeletor is purely an evil Fantasy character. Going back, his origins seem unknown, althought the cartoon and more so the mini comic book give some small clues about who Skeletor is and was. The mini comic books heavily implied that Skeletor was at some point Keldor, King Randor's long lost evil brother who dissapeared. Two different stories from the creators about his appearance was that he was cursed to decompose or that he was scarred by something called The Chest of Etheramite. Hmm, I gotta admit it really doesnt sound like a saturday morning cartoon character! And note how original and fascinating the story is, with the arch enemy being actually the brother of the king, unbeknown to anybody
Skeletor was the the head of the evil forces that constantly tried to conquer Eternia by taking the magical Castle Grayskull. His minions were Evil Lyn, TrapJaw, Tri Clops, BeastMan and Merman. After settling in Eternia he built himself a fortress on the dark side of the planet and called it the Snake Mountain.
Looking at all this, if not the humorous take on the villains, they would be terrifying! It all has a lot of creativity and depth, this is really a great Fantasy material that was explored in a saturday morning cartoon. It's really hard to believe. The world of dragons, magic, ghosts and gnomes, how much better can it get?
Anyway, Skeletor's voice was very original as well, and everyone would recognize that hyena voice. Alan Oppenheimer provided the voice for Skeletor, and he also supplied Man At Arms and Merman with the voice as well!
I always say it's ironic how some people call skinny guys 'Skeletor', when Skeletor was actually as mega muscular as He-Man himself
The pic above also shows that Skeletor simply has a skull instead of head floating above the neck area. Here's another take showing Skeletor exposing some more skull
The cartoon was so popular that it sparked a Motion Picture movie with the then very popular Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, who was riding the wave of success after starring as Ivan Drago and The Punisher. The movie was directed by Gary Goddart (who co-wrote Terminator 2: 3D Battle Across Time with James Cameron later on), but unfortunately the movie is covered with cheeze and the great stories and potential was completely thrown away. I like the movie for its 80s cheeziness that I like, but it couldve been a classic if done in a serious tone.
Skeletor was played by a great and talented actor Frank Langella who played Dracula before. Like I said, unfortunately the real personalities and stories of the characters are discarded, and Skeletor was modeled with Star Wars' Emperor in mind, even having the exact same death by falling into pit
Too bad as he could've been something like the General Kael from Willow instead of a not so subtle Palpatine clone, in both look and personality
When Skeletor absorbs the power of Castle Greyskull, he turns into god-like gold figure
I know it's pretty rare, but this version of He-Man was actually the one I grew up with."The New Adventures Of He-Man" was simply a continuation of the series...well, kind of. It tells the story how He-Man and Skeletor jump into the far future. The settings, the vibe and everything changes. There's no more magic or dragons, now it's aliens and space. Fantasy was replaced by Sci-fi.
Skeletor is very smart and clever in this series, and he's the right hand of the commander of the mutant army, Flogg. The biggest difference in this series is that Skeletor is a mutant here!
At first he wears a costume that heavily resembles the Superman outfit
The new He-Man series borrowed some ideas from other popular cartoons that were on the air at the time, notably TMNT. Skeletor and Flogg are virtually Shredder and Krang, and Skeletor's henchmen were just like bebop and Rocksteady, they were dumb mutants too. Just like Krang did, Flogg was only sitting in his base commanding with Skeletor and the army of mutants trying to take over Planet Primus. Flogg's mothership was hidden in a meteor that resembled skull
Later in the series Skeletor absorbs power form the crystal and he gains an armor that yet again resembles another comic book hero, this time The Punisher. Few episodes later his helmet gets crushed revealing Skeletors head. Then we see that Skeletor is clearly a mutant with the flesh, even having long hair!
What also may surprise some, Skeletor has a relationship with an evil woman Crita!
Skeletor in this series was a completely different character, as told by the crew his character and voice (which didn't resemble the original one at all) was based on Batman's Joker. This time Skeletor was voiced by Canadian actor Campbell Lane.
This version of Skeletor also made a filmed appearance twice in the new toy like commercials. Actor unknown
Mike Young made a rebooth and remake of the He-Man series, going back to the very beginning and fully exploring all the ideas and mythology of the He-man universe. Althought not my favorite, this take is really a breath stopper. I was amazed at how mature and well written the episodes were, they had the feel and music iof a big budget movie ala Lord Of The Rings, and really had that kind of feel. The series wasn't popular, and I think it was obvsdiouly targeted for adults with extremely complicated and deep stories and issues. Here we are again in the land of magic and dragons. We see everything from the beginning, how it all began, how the castle got it's power and - the origins of Skeletor.
Keldor was a warlord and warriror who was trained by evil Hordak. In the attempt to take over Eternia's Hall Of Wisdom he attacked with all the forces he had but met with the resistance from Randor, the future king. In the battle with Randor, Keldor threw the vial of acid at his opponent and Randor bounced it off with his shield. As a result, the vial broke on Keldor's face splashing the acid all over his head.
After that he jumps on the dragon and retreats. Dying from his injuries, he summons his former master Hordak to help him. Althought Hordak stops the dying process, he did not revert the already made damage which results in Keldor, now Skeletor, having a skull floating above the neck instead of head (just like in the original series)
He remained in his fortress Snake Mountain for long years. The Elders created a magic wall that held all the evil from the dark side of the planet from the rest of Eternia, until Skeletor finally broke through.Thats when he attacked the unprepared Kingdom to get his revenge on Randor. In this version, they're not related.
This time Skeletor is voiced by Brian Dobson and heavily resembles the original voice
Skeletor is just the ultimate cartoon villain, always shown as number 1 in the best cartoon villains lists. I think he's a fascinating character with amazing origins and characteristics, and as of now he terrorized three different generations from the other side of the screen