Universal taps Schwarzenegger for lead in The Legend Of Conan

Conan The Barbarian

When you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger a myriad of images likely flashes through your mind. There’s Schwarzenegger in a dapper suit addressing his constituents as governor of California. There’s Schwarzenegger riding a Harley while firing a sawed-off shotgun with one hand in Terminator 2. There’s Schwarzenegger swinging a gigantic sword in some dusty desert landscape, accompanied by a stirring Basil Poledouris score in Conan The Barbarian.

While that last one might have partially been pushed out of your memory banks by the recent reboot of the Conan series starring Jason Momoa, now would be a very good time to pull Schwarzenegger’s turn as Robert E. Howard’s most famous half-naked warrior to the forefront of your mind. According to a new Deadline report, Schwarzenegger has signed an agreement with Universal Pictures to return to his iconic role in The Legend Of Conan.

Though Deadline’s piece offers scant few details on what this film will be about, we are told that like 1982’s Conan The Barbarian, Legend will be an adaptation of Howard’s Conan tales. Given that there is no Robert E. Howard story called The Legend Of Conan however, we imagine that Universal plans to cherry-pick interesting moments from Howard’s stories to create something of a hybrid Conan adventure.

Intriguingly, it’s being reported that Legend will ignore both the 2011 Conan The Barbarian as well as 1984’s Conan The Destroyer. While not necessarily a direct sequel in name, Legend will create its fiction based on the events of Schwarzenegger’s first Conan film. “The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make,” said producer Fredrik Malmberg. “It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.”

Corroborating Malmberg’s words is producer Chris Morgan who explains why the original Conan film was the peak of the franchise and the only logical entry on which to build this new film. “Robert E. Howard’s mythology and some great philosophy from Nietzsche to Atilla the Hun was layered in the original film,” Morgan states. “People say, he didn’t speak for the first 20 minutes of the film, but that was calculated in depicting this man who takes control of life with his own hand. 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.

That seems like an intriguing premise and an excellent way to gloss over Schwarzenegger’s age. 1982 was three decades ago, and while the 65-year-old actor is still likely in far better shape than the vast majority of us common folk, he’s not exactly the same sculpted statue of masculinity that captured the world’s heart during the Reagan administration. That said, the man has a seemingly endless font of charisma, so assuming the script is well-written we’d be very excited to see Schwarzenegger tackle a more complex, older version of the sword-swinging barbarian character he made famous in his earlier days.

As this deal just came to light a few moments ago, we’re not likely to see The Legend Of Conan in theaters any time soon. Given the rigors of production and the number of other projects Schwarzenegger has lined up since leaving the world of politics, we’d expect at least a year to pass before Legend makes it theatrical debut. Deadline offers no word on when this film might enter production nor even an estimate on when it might see theaters, so please temper any giddy excitement you’re currently experiencing at this news.