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Thread: asking explanation of He-manís powers and need for a secret identity

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  1. #1
    Heroic Warrior Genuinearticle's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Northwest Washington

    asking explanation of He-manís powers and need for a secret identity

    Based on the Filmation cartoon, could someone please tell me about He-manís powers and need for a secret identity?

    The way that Superman hides behind Clark Kent, when I watch the cartoon as a kid, I assumed He-man was the same way with his Prince Adam identityÖ I probably thought that way based on them having the exact same physique and look. Abiding by this scenario, I believed that raising the sword simply changed Adamís princely wardrobeÖ ummm, "disguise" into He-manís battle outfit.

    But, now that I think of it, is supposed to be more like a ďShazamĒ situation, where Prince Adam is a mortal and only gets powerful upon saying a phrase and having the sword with him? I may be putting waaaay too much thought into this but if you were vulnerable as Prince Adam, wouldnít you just change into He-man one time and remain that way indefinitely?!Ö --maybe then only change clothes when needed.
    Is there a reason he needs to conceal his identity from his parents and Teela, and a backstory why he only shared it with Orko and Man-at-Arms (like the introduction sequence describes)?

    Thanks to everyone that clues me in and gives me their interpretation or referenced information, since I havenít seen all the episodes or read the books.

  2. #2
    Mightiest Mortal Captain Marvel's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Lansing, KS
    For starters, there's the reasons for a hero to maintain a secret identity ever since the Baroness Emmuska Orczy created the Scarlet Pimpernel, it causes no end of frustration for the villain[s] when they don't know who the hero is or where he may be at any given time. And of course the secret identity also shields the hero's family & friends from reprisals; while He-Man is the most powerful man in the universe but he can't be everywhere at once.

    As for Prince Adam not staying He-Man all the time, it's hard to say as we don't have much to go on. Perhaps it's a matter of learning to fully use the Power of Grayskull or perhaps Adam simply chooses not to remain He-Man all the time as the relationships with his friends & family will irrevocably change once they know Prince Adam is He-Man.

    As for Adam & He-Man looking largely the same, I think budget decided that rather than creative choice. If I recall correctly, Filmation ended up using the same base character model for Prince Adam and He-Man to save on costs but they originally wanted to use a different weaker appearing depiction for Adam. In that regard the MYP series is reflective of what Filmation had wanted to do nearly 20 years earlier.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior
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    Jul 2008
    Even as a kid, I couldn't get behind the Adam secret identity thing. For starters, I had read the original mini-comics and that worked fine for me. But basically, I just couldn't buy that anyone would ever be fooled for even a second by Adam's disguise. If you were to see me at the beach with my shirt off and a suntan, you wouldn't think I was a different person. Adam even carried around the same sword as He-Man, and hung around with a yellow and green tiger.

  4. #4
    Heroic Warrior MaxGoof's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    I've wondered about this for years. Typically heroes like Spider-Man hide their identities to protect their families and friends, but as Adam is part of the royal family, every villain in Eternia ALREADY wants to kill his family and friends. In fact, not knowing Adam's secret identity has led Adam's loved ones into taking dangerous risks for him over and over.

    It just makes no sense to me. None.

  5. #5
    Heroic Warrior Sky Breaker's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    I believe the answer you are seeking is a characteristic of what some would call 'an element of fiction'. So like with all heroes in fiction, the secret identity is an element which becomes a vehicle for unforeseen variables in the story telling.

    He-Man's powers themselves come from his (plot device) sword, and every single outcome is solved via what is known as a 'dues ex machina'. I guess in a way, He-Man himself is a dues ex machina, though he doesn't always solve the problem himself, when he does, its in the most stupendous of ways, as there is no established consistency to his strengths and limitations.
    Last edited by Sky Breaker; November 19, 2012 at 02:34am.

  6. #6
    Greatful his pants are on bskcase's Avatar
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    Nov 2000
    El Paso, TX
    There are a few literary elements that justify the use of a secret identity.

    On one hand, yes, the Royal family is a target. But Adam having a secret identity is a 2 way benefit because of it. The family no matter how much protection would face a higher risk threat if they knew Adam was He-man. They would hold a family member hostage and manipulate He-man more. There is a deference between having an important hostage to having a family member hostage. The villains would be able to control He-man more. They know they don't just have the queen hostage, they have He-man's mother hostage.

    Also, Adam is a member of the royal family. He is bound by politics and royal laws. He-man is not bound by anything. He will act on what he thinks is right, not by politics or laws.

    He-man is a mystery to almost everybody. Anybody who knows war strategy agrees that the most dangerous enemy is the one that is unknown. Just like Batman, Bruce Wayne is a public figure. Batman can do a great deal more than Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne can also do things that Batman can't do. He-man can do more than Prince Adam and vice versa. If the truth was out, both would be limited.

    Also, the concept of secret identity is also a plot device. It creates conflict and plot devices to create stories. If He-man is around all the time, this helps his enemies because they begin to observe him and watch him. Things will get boring.
    You just read a post from the head Honcho of Nerds On A Couch!

  7. #7
    Heroic Warrior LemonLimeGygor's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    American Canyon, California
    One thing New Adventures did right was the redesign for Adam, having the robe to hide the muscles and a different hairstyle is a far more convincing secret identity than just a vest and tights.

    I think the classics bios had Skeletor fight Oo-larr as a way to make Skeletor think that He-Man isn't Adam because he would be too young to be the same person back then.

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