‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’ – An Outsider’s Perspective

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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power – Coming Soon to Netflix

Like my fellow Geek Family contributor Karen Walsh, I attended the Dreamworks’ She-Ra Panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom on day one of New York Comic Con 2018. Unlike her, I didn’t grow up with She-Ra. The show and its originator, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, were just a little before my time. So I was coming in fresh. My frame of reference wasn’t the source material, it was modern all-ages fantasy-adventure. Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Over the Garden Wall, How to Train Your Dragon, and the just-debuted The Dragon Prince are some of my favorite recent animated epics, and I was hoping She-Ra and the Princesses of Power would stack up to that lofty competition. From this panel, it looks like Netflix’s newest animated adventure is off to a very good start.

Coming from the mind of Noelle Stevenson, the creator of Lumberjanes and the head producer here, this version of She-Ra is a very different animal than the original. It might be a first in that it’s a spin-off that is rebooted to be the originator of the mythology. In a post-panel interview, I asked if the show had access to the whole world of Eternia and was told that the He-Man characters are off-limits due to rights issue. But this means Stevenson has the freedom to craft her own vision of She-Ra as her own hero, away from He-Man’s shadow, And from the glimpse we got of the first season, this could be something great.

The Panel

After a brief introduction of the panel, which included Stevenson, Aimee Carrero (the voice of Adora/She-Ra), Karen Fukuhara (the voice of Glimmer), and Marcus Scribner (the voice of Bow), we were treated to the first of several clips giving us a taste of the show. As fans of the original mythology know, Adora began as a soldier of the Evil Horde, led by the mad vampire Hordak. I’m not sure if she’s keeping her backstory as a secret princess, but when we meet her she’s a highly-trained Force Captain in Hordak’s army. Trained from birth to view Princesses as the enemy, she’s a loyal soldier excelling in her training missions – despite the trolling and slacking provided by her best friend Catra. The snarky banter between the two young warriors is so much fun you almost forget they’re on the wrong side – but their friendship is destined to be torn apart.

She-Ra and Catra – Best friends forever? Credit to Netflix and Dreamworks

The other side of the battle is the Princesses of Power, a rebellion led by a group of magical teenagers including Glimmer – a tough, brash girl who has a tense relationship with her Queen mother. Although Queen Angella didn’t appear in the trailers we saw, I was promised by Fukuhara personally that we’ll see a lot of her in the season. The yin to Glimmer’s yang is provided by Bow, a young black archer who is the Princess’ best friend and partner in escapades. Bow seems to be an early favorite with the fandom, a distinctly non-stereotypical black character who is one of the few male characters in a cast full of strong women. His line “I’m the only one here who isn’t a princess” brought down the house. The panel also let it slip that the character has two dads – making Bow’s family the first bit of LGBT representation in this reboot!

Glimmer, Bow, and Adora. Credit to Dreamworks and Netflix.

The following clips gave us a good sense of the story structure – Adora encounters the sword of She-Ra for the first time and winds up tentatively joining up with Glimmer and Bow. Following Adora’s defection and her fight with an enraged Catra, Catra is promoted to Force Captain by Hordak. It seems like the lost friendship between She-Ra and Catra is going to be the defining story of the first season, and these clips set their bond up nicely. But the breakout clip of the panel was undoubtedly the one where we saw the Princesses of Power in action.

Resembling a mostly-female Justice League composed of magical girls, this team was a great example of how to do a diverse group of girl heroes. You saw a wide assortment of body types, ethnicities, power sets, personalities, and ages. Breakouts included the hilariously sarcastic Mermista, the prehensile-haired techie Entrapta, and pint-sized Queen Frosta. However, the crowd favorite seemed to be the sole male member of the team’s rescue mission – the over-the-top Seahawk. This older, moustachioed Robin Hood-esque hero won the crowd over with his brash heroism that often made him a hilarious spanner in the works.

Meet the Princesses of Power. Seahawk is just happy to be here. Credit to Dreamworks and Netflix.

I came into the panel knowing very little about She-Ra, and left feeling like a superfan. From the highly engaged and friendly panel, to the personal press round table they held afterwards, to the informative and interactive panel that opened by giving us cardboard swords and foam tiaras and ended with a group salute, this is exactly how you build up fan anticipation for a new series. The fanbase is off to a fast start after yesterday’s footage was released, and they’re quickly drowning out any memory of the small group of trolls that complained about the fact that the new She-Ra looks like a teenage girl and not a supermodel. These are great times for fans of She-Ra, but to my eye, they’re also great times for fans of all-ages high fantasy with a new gem on the horizon.

Season one of She-Ra debuts on Netflix on November 16th.

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