Last year, Millennium Films attempted to bring back Robert E. Howard's enduring pulp hero with Conan the Barbarian, a ramshackle reboot starring Jason Momoa as the title character. With that movie failing to connect, though, Fredrick Malmberg, whose Paradox Entertainment owns the film rights to the eighty year-old barbarian, is teaming up with Universal Pictures for a new sequel to 1982's Conan the Barbarian. 1984's Conan the Destroyer illustrated the hazards of making a Conan without John Milius, but it doesn't look like the co-writer and director will be involved in this new movie.
There's no director yet, but Malmberg will produce alongside Chris Morgan, who came up with the new story and may write the screenplay. Morgan's credits as a writer include Wanted, Cellular, next year's 47 Ronin, and the last three installments in The Fast and the Furious franchise. It's that last one that might keep him from scripting. Morgan wrote the currently-filming Fast Six and is on board to write the seventh entry, too, and he might still be toiling away on that once The Legend of Conan quickly enough, since Universal wants this sequel ready for the summer of 2014. Even if he doesn't write, Morgan will apparently be a very involved producer.
The sixty-five year-old Schwarzenegger told Deadline, which broke the story, “I always loved the Conan character and I’m honored to be asked to step into the role once again. I can’t wait to work with Universal and the great team of Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan to develop the next step of this truly epic story.”
Malmberg, meanwhile, stressed that The Legend of Conan is a sequel, not the reboot it's inexplicably called, saying, “The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make. 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.”
By all indications, this new movie will essentially disregard Conan the Destroyer, as Morgan said, “After the original seminal movie, all that came after looked silly to me. Robert E. Howard’s mythology and some great philosophy from Nietzsche to Atilla the Hun was layered in the original film. 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 this is meant to be Schwarzenegger's Unforgiven implies that it will grapple with the moral complexity and lingering effects of popularized violence, but that seems doubtful. Nonetheless, Morgan emphasized his love for Milius's 1982 film, saying, “I loved the choices they made in that film. You start with the wholesale slaughter and death of Conan’s village at the hand of the warlord played by James Earl Jones, and you see young Conan chained to a wheel as he becomes stronger. Then he’s a pit fighter, and later basically a stud bull before he meets the first kind person of his life, who lets him go. All of that horrific stuff happened for a reason, and then an act of kindness sends him on his journey. 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.”