She-Ra and the Princesses of Power creator Noelle Stevenson and the voice cast of the animated series were on a WonderCon panel for the upcoming second season. Speaking with reporters in a pressroom roundtable, Stevenson discussed some of the changes coming to She-Ra.

Stevenson’s re-imagining of the Masters of the Universe spinoff was met with love from new fans and grown-ups who grew up with She-Ra (and some who, ahem, saw He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword in theaters), so why change a thing? It’s only been one season. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Well, both real-world factors and narrative factors necessitated some evolution.

A Darker Tone

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power won over new kids with its empowering adventures of young warriors. Now those kids are going to have to learn that it’s not all fun and games. Stevenson promises a darker second season, but it’s not a sudden tonal shift. She-Ra has to face her sister Catra and battle the Horde. That speaks to the pressures of leadership.

“The darkness is something that’s inherent in the story,” Stevenson said. “So much of season one is about setting up these power structures and setting up these characters, but there’s a lot there, just the conflicted feelings between the characters, the dark plot of the villains. It’s just something we dove into more and more as the character evolve and deepen.”

That’s one of the great things about TV too, that seasons can take different tones in continuing stories. If a movie sequel goes dark and fails, then they’ve just blown the only new entry you get. As long as Stevenson takes the Empire Strikes Back approach of taking the characters to the depth of battle, she can still maintain the tone of She-Ra.

“We always try to keep it fun and keep the jokes coming, but sometimes a lot of our episodes will be all fun and games until at the end it’s Adora with tears running down her face,” Stevenson said.

Fewer Episodes More Often

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power returns with only seven new episodes, but the good news is you won’t have to wait another five months for the rest of season two. Voltron: Legendary Defender took this approach too and it worked out well.

“We get to deliver episodes more often so instead of it being, for example, six months between drops of episodes, they can come much more frequently,” Stevenson said. “It’s a little bit more of the experience of constantly watching something instead of here’s 13 episodes, binge them all at once and then wait for half a year before you get another one.”

Honestly, with so many 13 episode seasons dropping every week (and hour-longs no less!), viewers have large commitments already established. Rather than burden them with six and a half hours all at once, splitting it up and making it more digestible to watch sounds good to me.

“I think it does interesting things with our episode structure,” Stevenson sadded. “We basically approach these stories as arcs of 13 so usually the divide of the season happens at a bit of a cliffhanger. So it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction to that is. I’m excited to be able to just have more on more often.”

Look Out For More Masters of the Universe

While Stevenson has ruled out a He-Man appearance, she teased there could be many other fan favorite She-Ra characters popping up this season.

“There’s definitely some cool new cameos coming up and then just even more next season, but stay tuned,” Stevenson said.

Season one already introduced Sea Hawk, Entrapta, Mermista, Perfuma, Swift Wind, Cataspella, Netosa, Frosta and more. Who else would you want to see? Light Hope? Madame Razz? Kowl?

Scorpia voice Lauren Ash also teased an Easter Egg to classic She-Ra.

“We’re going to see a plan of attack through the eyes of Bow and you get to see all of the characters and it’s a real nod to the ‘80s original version of the show,” Ash said. “So we get to see Adora in the more traditional original She-Ra costume.”

The Life Lessons Continue

Season one had some great messages for young viewers as Adora learned the truth about the Horde who’d indoctrinated her to believe that Etheria were the villains. Along the way she also learned to spot posers like Sea Hawk, but he got to redeem himself too. Stevenson saw the original She-Ra’s blatant moral monologues as inherent to the show, but found a modern way to incorporate them.

“We wanted to pay homage to that same societal lens without necessarily turning to the camera, delivering the moral in that way, but I think laying out the complexities of life and the complexities of our society,” Stevenson said. “Letting the viewer draw their own conclusions in some ways but also being very clear about what we support and why.”

So, that darker season two will come with some healthy exploration of the darkness.

“Even though it’s not a world with sexism as we know it, the characters still deal with stresses and anxieties that we deal with every single day in this world,” Stevenson said. “We want to make a world that’s both an escape and a fun place to go to get away from the real world, but also one that isn’t afraid to take a look at and work through the feelings of watching what’s happening to our world, the fear and the sadness around that.”

Not the least of which is Adora living up to the legacy of Mara. Just like Stevenson has the legacy of She-Ra: Princess of Power on her mind, and everyone in the world can relate to in some way.

“She has inherited the mantle from her which I think as women we deal with a lot,” Stevenson said. “You feel like you’re looking up to the women who came just a few steps before you to see what you can learn. I think it’s part like even the women coming after us, we sort of know that they’ll go farther than we ever could. And so the feeling of getting the torch passed to her by Mara and what do I do now? How do I both avoid what happened to her and also succeed in the ways that she succeeded as well? I think she’s sort of figuring it out and I think that’s kind of where we are as women too.”

It sounds like all the things that made She-Ra and the Princesses of Power such a joy to watch will continue to develop further. Even if it’s not the fun and games of initially discovering their power, that’s relevant too. Life’s not always fun, but hopefully having role models like She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow and others can help prepare us.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power returns April 26 on Netflix.

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