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

  1. #1
    Widget Genuinearticle's Avatar
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    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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    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.

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    Heroic Warrior geooco's Avatar
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    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.
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    Heroic Warrior MaxGoof's Avatar
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    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.
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  5. #5
    Heroic Warrior Sky Breaker's Avatar
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    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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    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.
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    Heroic Warrior LemonLimeGygor's Avatar
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    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.

  8. #8
    Got Filmation? shadowfall1976's Avatar
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    Adam is Adam, to stay He-Man is to stay a slightly different person, for one Adam may have muscles, but muscles alone only make you so strong, the Power Sword gives him immense strength that He-Man has, which He-Man is partly a mystical entity empowered by magic from the sword he carries....Adam only has access to that power because of the sword.

    As far as the secret ID....his family would be in even more jeopardy if they knew, and others knew of the secret....yes the Royal family is in danger all the time, but the danger is different, no one could hold say Marlena hostage and get more from her than being just a member of royalty....she'd be worth much much more as He-Man's Mom....

    Think Superman, Lois gets herself into enough crap as Lois Lane....imagine the crap she'd find herself in as Lois Kent if everyone knew Superman was Clark.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Marvel View Post
    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.
    This is pretty much accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by geooco View Post
    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.
    Cringer was much smaller than Battle Cat, and at least as Battle Cat, he had a mask on....it's not like the Green Tigers were extinct or something. But apparently as far as Adam goes, you don't care much for Superman....seeing as how his secret ID is reversed He is Cal-El, that disguises himself as Clark Kent....even though he grew up thinking this is who he was, only to realize he was two different people, but unlike Adam, Superman can't just throw a switch to turn it off, Adam should consider himself lucky that the super powers belong to his alter ego, and can be put away.

    I get that....hey you know, you look a lot like Adam....thing, but really, there are a lot of people on the street you could think from certain angles look like someone you know, only to be a total stranger.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Marvel View Post
    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.
    ^Boom.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky Breaker View Post
    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.
    ^Bam.

  10. #10
    Warrior of Evolution 13977's Avatar
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    Hey guys,
    I'm moved this to the ORIGINAL MOTU forum as the first post says its based on the Filmation cartoon.
    Thanks!
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  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior Piccolo Daimaoh's Avatar
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    I was thinking about He-man and the secreit identity myself. If anyone has a worse disguise than Superman it's gotta be He-Man. I mean a tall, muscular blonde raises his power sword, says the magic words and becomes a tall, muscular blonde with an incredible tan. But there is something to be said about hiding in plain sight.

    The thought did cross my mind, like MaxGoof brought up, that as a member of the royal family at a time were the King's brother is seeking to usurp the throne and conquer the world they are already targets so it shouldn't matter if the world knows Adam is He-Man. If they try to hurt He-Man thru his friends it would be like trying to kidnap Wonder Woman to get at Superman. It's not like they cannot defend themselves, but I guess that isn't the point. Adam himself becomes a target when he is not He-Man. There has been many a time when Adam has come face-to-face with one of Skeletor's minions or even Skeletor himself and was only able to escape because they never took Adam as a threat. Plus, if Adam is He-Man then it would come out that Cringer is Battle Cat making him a target aswell as Adam.

    There is a part in Superman Batman Supergirl when Kara Zor-El is asking Kal-El why he maintains this Clark Kent alter-ego. If he is Superman why should he care if the world knows. He then proceeded to give her the best explanation I have ever heard. He cannot be Superman 24 hours a day. He needs time for a regular life. As powerful as he is if he never took time off from being Superman he'd go crazy. Yes, he has human parents who would immediately become targets plus human friends like Pete Ross, Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane would all become targets.

    For He-Man most of his friends and family are trained warriors, including the Queen. But, if Eternia knew that Adam was He-Man you no longer had to worry just about hardcore villains like Trap-Jaw and Beastman, you also have to worry about small-time goons who want to make a name for themselves by kidnapping or killing Adam's family if they go to the market place or anywhere that is public. They'd have to deal with villains who are not so up front about their intentions, the begger in the street, a new cook, people who don't wear costumes. Plus Adam won't get to be Adam if he is expected to be He-Man all of the time.
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  12. #12
    Widget Genuinearticle's Avatar
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    These are all awesome explanations and perspectives. I’m enjoying reading everybody’s thoughts on it.

    I totally get how a dual identity helps out with storylines and makes for more layers in certain plot situations. Is there any reason Orko and Man-at-Arms get to know the Prince Adam’s true identity and not Teela? It seems like his family could know as well as his close circle and keeping the public (and enemies) in the dark. If Orko can avoid letting the cat-out-of-the-bag I would think others could do the same.
    On a similar note, I just now considered a reason the cartoon might have been so successful with adolescent boys. It seems there is an automatic appeal to young boys when there’s a secret identity involved. Like the way boys identify with Peter Parker. For instance, when a girl dismisses a young boy he likes to think, “If she knew how special a person I am, she’d then feel differently about me.” Etc…

  13. #13
    Heroic Warrior Piccolo Daimaoh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Genuinearticle View Post
    These are all awesome explanations and perspectives. I’m enjoying reading everybody’s thoughts on it.

    I totally get how a dual identity helps out with storylines and makes for more layers in certain plot situations. Is there any reason Orko and Man-at-Arms get to know the Prince Adam’s true identity and not Teela? It seems like his family could know as well as his close circle and keeping the public (and enemies) in the dark. If Orko can avoid letting the cat-out-of-the-bag I would think others could do the same.
    On a similar note, I just now considered a reason the cartoon might have been so successful with adolescent boys. It seems there is an automatic appeal to young boys when there’s a secret identity involved. Like the way boys identify with Peter Parker. For instance, when a girl dismisses a young boy he likes to think, “If she knew how special a person I am, she’d then feel differently about me.” Etc…
    I think it makes for a better story if the love interest/person who holds the alter-ego in lowest esteem doesn't know that this zero is a hero. It makes it all the more believable for the people around the hero who also have to believe that Adam and He-Man are not the same person if his closest friend Teela also thinks they are not the same person. Look at Superman and Spider-Man, it is a lot more interesting if Lois Lane/Mary Jane don't know. It makes their interactions that much more entertaining. In the case of Peter Parker the girl eventually falls for him and not Spider-Man and that opens up even more great storylines. I believe when Lois Lane finds that Superman is really not an option romantically she falls for Clark, too. In that reguard it would be cool if Teela finds that she loves Adam even though he isn't perfect like He-Man. It gives the relationship more meaning if they fall in love with the person not the fact that they are these great heroes.

    Plus there are so many secrets in the world of MOTU if Teela finds out that Adam is He-Man she may question her own lineage and get on Duncan for more info on her mother and what really happened.
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  14. #14
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    It always bothered me that Adam never told Teela and his parents that he is He-man.

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