Possible Directors For Masters Of The Universe

Sony are deciding who has the power

Here's another one of those "list of possible directors" stories which, like Dr Strange last week, may not be of great substance in itself, but does indicate that a project is gaining traction at a studio. The studio in question this time is Sony, and the film is the looooong-in-development Masters Of The Universe.

According to The Wrap's sources, Sony, production company Escape Artists and much-involved right owners Mattel have been having meetings with an intriguingly eclectic range of filmmakers.

Harald Zwart is the first name out of the hat. Clearly a popular name at Sony/Columbia, he directed the Karate Kid remake to the tune of $359m in international box office. He had less success recently with The Mortal Instruments, but still proved he could handle a big budget and a mighty FX load. He-Man will certainly be commanding both.

Also in contention is Chris McKay, who hasn't directed before but was editor and animation supervisor on The Lego Movie. He has a history with Adult Swim's Robot Chicken.

And the real wild card in the current pack is Mike Cahill, the polymath director, editor, producer, writer and cinematographer of low budget mumblecore sci-fi Sundance favourites Another Earth and I Origins. Both those films are great, so its fascinating to speculate what he'd do with millions of dollars and an established mainstream property: the idea is not entirely unlike David Lynch making Return Of The Jedi. But we can't help thinking he'd be a fractious fit for a studio tentpole, and especially one connected to a behemoth toy line. Still, he might give us Brit Marling as Teela.

Masters Of The Universe, if you were born after the '80s and need the explanation, was a Mattel toy line and Filmation cartoon series. It centred on Adam, Prince of Eternia and defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. Fabulous powers were revealed to him on the day that, for reasons best known to himself, he held aloft his magic sword and said some magic words, turning him into the muscular warrior He-Man.

His cowardly pet tiger-thing Cringer got to become Battle Cat as part of the deal, and with allies like soldier Man At Arms, sorceress The Sorceress, amazon Teela and floating wizard thing Orco, they fought the somewhat inept powers of evil, headed up by the weirdly buff skeleton overlord Skeletor.

Gary Goddard directed a cheap-o version in 1987, with Dolph Lundgren as the He-Man that fell to Earth. The current iteration at Columbia - thought to be a full-on, sci-fi, Eternia-based FX epic - had Jon M. Chu (GI Joe: Retaliation) at the helm for a while until he jumped ship, leaving the project in its current directorless state. The most recent screenplay is by Lone Ranger / Pirates Of The Caribbean writer Terry Rossio.

Still very much attached, however, are producers Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch (Tony Scott's The Taking Of Pelham 123), and Mattel themselves: protective enough of their property that they took it away from Warners when they didn't like the direction it was taking. There's still nothing like a start date yet.