Before he was Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger was Conan the Barbarian in two films that helped cement his reputation as a brawny, heroic star. Now that he's back (har har) in show business after a brief stint as Governor of California, he's going back to the old well to reprise the role in a new film called The Legend of Conan, scheduled for release in Summer 2014. And it's not just any old Conan movie either… it's the Conan movie everyone's been asking for since 1982.
Deadline reports that the new film, to be produced by Paradox Entertainment CEO Fredrik Malmberg and Fast Five screenwriter Chris Morgan (who came up with the story and my write the screenplay, schedule permitting), will finally show the events surrounding the lost shot of the original Conan the Barbarian, which featured an aged, bearded Conan sitting on a throne and wearing, according to narrator Mako, "the jeweled crown of Aquilonia atop a troubled brow." The second film in the franchise, Conan the Destroyer, continued the tale of young Conan, presumably because Schwarzenegger was still young and why waste money on a movie that couldn't yield more sequels if it's successful. In the years that followed, particularly as Schwarzenegger aged into the part, fans clamored for what for a long time was referred to as "King Conan."
When Schwarzenegger took office in California, and particularly when the ill-fated (but not terribly awful) Conan the Barbarian reboot premiered last year, it seemed unlikely that Schwarzenegger would ever return to the iconic role, but as of today, it's finally happening. And if you really despised the Conan the Barbarian remake, or even the underrated Conan the Destroyer, you're in luck, because according to the producers, those films never happened, kind of like how Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace were intentionally retconned by Bryan Singer's Superman Returns in 2006.
Quoth the Malmberg: "After the original seminal movie, all that came after looked silly to me […] This movie picks up Conan where Arnold is now in his life, and we will be able to use the fact that he has aged in this story. I love the property of Conan so much that I wouldn’t touch it unless we came up with something worthy. We think this is a worthy successor to the original film. Think of this as Conan's Unforgiven."
When discussing whether The Legend of Conan wil be R-rated, like the original film they admire so deeply, he was non-commital but spoke thusly: "Will that level of violence be there? Absolutely, but only if it serves a character who lives by that barbarian law of the wild, who is capable of extreme violence and rage, but who has created his own code and operates from within it. By the end of that film, Conan became a certain character, and this film picks him up there, as he faces different challenges that include dealing with age."
The only question that now remains, besides whether this will fall apart in development like so many other ambitious Hollywood projects, is whether anyone still wants to see Schwarzenegger starring in a major action movie. Although his cameo in The Expendables 2 was appreciated by many (and described by others as kind of creepy, given the way his body has aged), his big return as a headliner comes in the form of The Last Stand, a low-concept action film being released in the dregs of January, presumably to hedge the studio's bets on the actor's remaining star power. If Schwarzenegger can't open a film anymore, will anyone want to see The Legend of Conan, even if it is the film we've wanted to see for 30 years?
CraveOnline will be back with more Legend of Conan news after we stock up on pomegranates.