Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘King Conan’ is the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sequel That We Need to Happen

‘King Conan’ is the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sequel That We Need to Happen

Arnold Schwarzenegger should return one last time to the role that first made him an action star: Conan the Barbarian. However, the film should acknowledge The Terminator icon’s age. You see, Conan wouldn’t be a simple barbarian in his 70s. He would be a king.

Before Conan the Barbarian dropped in 1982, Arnold Schwarzenegger was best known as a world-renowned bodybuilder. At only 20 Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Universe title, and went on to dominate the elite bodybuilding championship Mr. Olympia seven times between 1970 and 1980. In the late 60s, the Austrian Oak even won a handful of powerlifting competitions.

Despite being widely considered the best bodybuilder of all time, Schwarzenegger desperately wanted to be an action star. In the 1970s, he only appeared in a handful of films, mostly in supporting parts. His sole leading role was in 1970’s Hercules in New York, in which he suffered two indiginities. For one thing, he’s credited as “Arnold Strong” rather than his real name. His voice was also overdubbed by an uncredited actor due to his Austrian accent. Okay, maybe there’s a third indignity here, as poor Arnold fights a guy in a shabby bear suit at one point in the film.

However, it was a documentary about bodybuilding that finally helped Arnold breakthrough. 1977’s Pumping Iron showcased not only Schwarzenegger’s physique but also his magnetic charisma. It caught the attention of producers of the upcoming Conan the Barbarian, and the rest is history.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Became an Action Icon After ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Set in Robert E. Howard’s desolate Hyborian Age, Conan the Barbarian tells the epic tale of Conan, a mighty warrior seeking revenge against the cult leader Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). This sorcerer destroyed Conan’s village when he was a child, leaving him orphaned. The film showcases Conan’s journey from slave to pit fighter to fulfilling his warrior destiny.

Conan the Barbarian proved to be a blockbuster at the box office and enjoyed ongoing success in the home video market. The film launched Schwarzenegger into stardom and played a pivotal role in Conan writer Oliver Stone’s career. It also solidified co-writer and director John Milius (Red Dawn) as a creative force to be reckoned with.

Conan the Barbarian went on to have one sequel and a slew of imitators in the 80s. Fantasy epics like Beastmaster, Krull, and Highlander owe a great debt to Arnold’s brutal barbarian masterpiece. Even the 80s action figure smash hit, Masters of the Universe was directly inspired by Conan.

Only one of the planned four sequels actually materialized: the widely criticized Conan the Destroyer in 1984. The barbarian lost his edge, as the follow-up was muted, with less action and a kid-friendly vibe. 1985’s Red Sonja, a movie set in the same fantastical realm as Conan the Barbarian, featured Schwarzenegger as a character with similarities to his previous role, yet distinct. However, despite co-starring Brigitte Nielsen, the film failed to spark a franchise.

Why the Time is Now for ‘King Conan’

Rumors have swirled for years about a belated Conan the Barbarian sequel with Schwarzenegger returning to the role. Reportedly, John Milius has shown interest in writing and directing the project. The film would finally show the tale eluded to in the original films, which flashes forward to a weary Conan, who is now a king.

In recent years, more mature fantasy projects have done gangbusters. Of course, this is evidenced by Game of Thrones and its spinoff House of the Dragon. Even smaller fantasy properties like The Witcher captured the attention of mainstream audiences.

Arnold Schwarzenegger also remains a beloved figure. Generations of fans would love to see him able to give his signature character a proper send-off. Clint Eastwood was able to do his swan song to the Western with Unforgiven, and Hugh Jackman bid farewell to Wolverine in the gritty Logan. Even Schwarzenegger’s contemporary Sylvester Stallone was allowed to end the sagas of Rocky and Rambo on his terms.

King Conan could be an ensemble, teaming Arnold with younger action heroes (Chris Hemsworth would be a great son of Conan). Maybe another action veteran like Stallone or Dolph Lundgren could be a villain or uneasy ally. Make it brutally violent like the original 1982 film, but leave audiences satisfied that Conan is still a hero from a forgotten age.

Let Arnold Schwarzenegger ride off into the sunset with one last, ambitious throwback fantasy action epic.