Another gay role?! With Nicholas Galitzine as He-Man, here’s why ‘Masters Of The Universe’ will always be queer

Another gay role?! With Nicholas Galitzine as He-Man, here’s why ‘Masters Of The Universe’ will always be queer

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Image Credits: Nicholas Galitzine, Getty Images (left) | Image Credit: ‘Masters Of The Universe: Revelation,’ Netflix (right)

Recently, Red, White & Royal Blue heartthrob Nicholas Galitzine admitted he felt a bit guilty as a straight actor playing so many queer roles and “taking up someone’s space.”

Now, look, we have no problem with the handsome, sensitive star so frequently going gay-for-pay, but one would think, given that sentiment, that maybe Galitzine might cool it on the LGBTQ+ projects for a little bit?

Well, apparently not, because it’s just been announced that the actor’s next role will be his gayest one yet: Iconic ’80s muscle-clad hero, He-Man, in a new big-screen adaptation of Masters Of The Universe!

You know, He-Man! That big, beautiful himbo hunk with the bod—and the bob—that just won’t quit. That’s a gay man right there, and we won’t hear otherwise.

Image Credit: ‘Masters Of The Universe,’ Mattel

Initially a Mattel toy line, Masters Of The Universe (MOTU) became even more iconic thanks to its original animated series, which ran from ’83 to ’85 and established its core story, colorfully blending together elements of fantasy and sci-fi: Prince Adam of the planet Eternia transforms into his heroic altar-ego, He-Man, to fight off evil nemesis Skeletor and protect the magical fortress Castle Grayskull.

Over the decades, the story has taken various forms, from comics to video games to TV specials to live-action movies to spin-offs, and the one thing that seems to connects all of them is an undeniably campy sense of homoeroticism (sometimes intentional, sometimes not).

Let’s get into it…

Why He-Man is our gayest hero

First things first, He-Man. Even when he’s not in his scantily club, muscle-bearing form, Prince Adam always rocked perfectly coiffed hair, a pink sleeveless tunic, and periwinkle tights.

But beyond that, there’s plenty of metaphors to be read into the way the prince has to keep his heroic identity a secret, how he frequently code-switches, the fact that he never shows romantic interest in women yet has deeply intimate and nuanced relationships with other men like weaponry expert Man-At-Arms. We could go on and on!

Honestly, the queer reading of He-Man is nothing new, and various riffs on the character’s ambiguous sexuality have long pervaded pop culture—like this viral, throwback meme video showing the hero emotively singing 4 Non Blonde’s “What’s Going On.”

Skeletor & more represent every color of the rainbow

Then there’s Skeletor, the preening, skeleton-faced evildoer who has long been He-Man’s number one most fearsome foe. Despite all of his diabolical plans to conquer Eternia, it’s been remarked that the villain is almost single-mindedly obsessed with He-Man, leading many to wonder if the real story at the heart of Masters Of The Universe is one of tragic, unrequited gay love.

And, come on, Skeletor’s got a flair for the dramatics and loves to surround himself with quirky baddies and to-die-for divas (slayyyy Evil-Lyn!)—he’s another one of animation history’s classically queer-coded villains!

And that’s not all—not by a long-shot. Eternia is chock-full of characters on the spectrum from “hmm, he seems a little fruity, doesn’t he?” to canonically queer, per more recent iterations and spin-offs of the franchise.

There’s the aforementioned Man-At-Arms, He-Man’s closets ally who, thanks to his prominent mustache, looks a bit like a forgotten, Space Age member of The Village People. There’s the burly Beast Man, giving the bear community some much-needed representation in Eternia. The silly sorcerer Orko is a total queen. And don’t get us started on Fisto, whose name says everything you need to know…

Image Credit: ‘Masters Of The Universe,’ Mattel

Making the (Masters Of The) Universe a queerer place

Of late, Netflix’s animated She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power presents a version of the MOTU universe where basically every character is shown to be fluid in terms of gender or sexuality. And the CGI animated He-Man And The Masters of the Universe gave us even more fodder for our theories that Man-At-Arms (a.k.a. Duncan) is gay.

Meanwhile, the ongoing Masters Of The Universe: Revelation / Revolution series—which position themselves as direct sequel to the show’s original ’80s run—hasn’t been shy about welcoming the queer lens to its world.

Image Credit: ‘She-Ra And The Princesses of Power,’ Netflix

In our 2021 interview with writers Rob David and Tim Sheridan, the pair agreed that the world of MOTU has long been one that queer people can find themselves in, while also confirming that Mattel is well aware of—and comfortable with—gay readings of the characters.

“Visibility isn’t just about which characters are holding hands. It’s also about themes and stories and our inner fabulous secret powers and our secrets. That’s why Masters Of The Universe endures,” says Sheridan, who identifies as gay.

Notably, the upcoming MOTU with Galitzine won’t be the first time He-Man and Skeletor were brought to the big-screen in live-action. 1987’s Masters Of The Universe starred an oiled-up Dolph Lundgren and an operatic Frank Langella as the hero and villain, respectively.

While it wasn’t well-reviewed whatsoever, the film did certainly inspire a a whole generation’s worth of sexual awakenings. And, as Buzzfeed‘s Adam B. Vary once (very thoroughly) pointed out, the box-office bomb only accentuated the homoerotic tension lying just beneath the surface of the franchise, heavy on symbolic imagery, lustful, longing stares, and Lundgren’s perky pecs.

How gay will Nicholas Galtizine’s He-Man be?

Which brings us back to the upcoming Masters Of The Universe movie, currently slated to hit theaters on July 5, 2026, and helmed by Bumblebee director Travis Knight. Is there a chance it will lean into the queerness that’s been apparent in the franchise since the very beginning?

It’s hard to say for sure, but as the ’87 movie proved, it’s kind of impossible to earnestly adapt the material without it coming off incredibly campy. This is an eccentric, fantastical world—how can you possibly “play it straight”?

Image Credit: ‘Masters Of The Universe,’ MGM

Then there’s Mattel. They’ve been trying to make a new MOTU movie as far back as 2007, but development hell has led to many, many stops-and-starts (with actors like Kellan Lutz and Noah Centineo previously circling the role).

It’s probably no coincidence that this one would finally get off the ground after the toy brand found massive success with Barbie—could they want to take a similarly arch, meta approach to another beloved, nostalgic pop culture figure? Like the inclusion of Sugar Daddy Ken in Great Gerwig’s 2023 movie, we wouldn’t be surprised if they found ways for MOTU to wink to the franchise’s storied homoerotic appeal and noted LGBTQ+ fanbase.

And, by the way, this MOTU is being penned by Chris Knight, the writer and co-director of stop-motion-animated ParaNorman, with themes of otherness that undoubtedly invite a queer reading and which also features a gay himbo character. Hmm… interesting! Look, we’re just pointing out facts here!

All of this is to say: Nicholas Galitzine, we love ya, but if you were looking to step away from queer roles for a little bit, you picked the wrong loincloth-wearing hero!

P.S. Cast Colman Domingo as Skeletor, you cowards!!!

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