Conan the Barbarian is one of the greatest films of the 1980’s (check out our essay on the film from our 1982: The Greatest Year series HERE). It made Arnold Schwarzenegger a huge star and spawned an entire decade’s worth of (inferior) sword-and-sorcery flicks starring the likes of Marc Singer and Peter and David Paul, aka The Barbarian Brothers. After a neutered, disappointing sequel in 1984, Schwarzenegger hung up the Atlantean sword — seemingly for good — and of course went on to star in action classics like Commando, Predator, Total Recall, True Lies, etc. before semi-retiring from acting altogether and winning the governorship of California.
Now that Arnie’s gubernatorial stint is over, he’s returned to film work at the age of 65, starring in Expendables 2 and the upcoming The Last Stand. Ahh-nuld fans were truly pumped though, when Universal announced plans back in the Fall to produce an all-new adventure of author Robert E. Howard’s famous Cimmerian barbarian. Tentatively titled The Legend of Conan, the film will feature Arnold returning to the role as a conquering, battle-scarred king “who has bedded more women than anyone, and is nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.”
Speaking to Aint it Cool News on a press junket for The Last Stand, Ahh-nuld thought the film would begin shooting at the end of the year — probably in New Zealand — and he was excited that Universal wanted to get back on the Conan train after severely mishandling the franchise over the course of the past thirty years:
“[Universal] finally came forward and said, ‘You’re absolutely right. The previous regime has missed the boat here. We want to pick it up. We’re going to buy the rights and we’re going to be serious about it and make a quality film with an A-director and with A-writers and so on. And we want you to participate in this. We want you to star and you to play Conan. We’re going to take a story where Conan is at that age so it’s totally believable and you’re not looking like a 30-year old action guy.”
When I wrote about the potential of a new Arnold Conan film a few months ago, I said it could either be an awesome, emotional last ride into war in the vein of the surprisingly satisfying last Rocky film, or it could be a sad, saggy trainwreck. It really all depends on who’s going to be writing and directing the thing. Universal’s told Arnie that they want an “A-List director and an A-writer,” but when it comes down to it, will they deliver, or balk at Arnie’s age and the costs involved with producing an epic fantasy flick? And perhaps a scarier thought it is…who do they consider an A-list director, anyway? Until we know for sure, let us pray to Crom that people like McG or Len Wiseman get nowhere near this…