A Retrograde Look At Conan The Barbarian (2011)

Was the 2011 Conan movie really that bad? Or, was there something else at play?

Conan The Barbarian (2011) gets a lot of flak. It nearly killed the franchisel; it was a rough production with directors in and out of the movie until it finally ended up being filmed. The film was a box office bomb and it has gone down in history as being a very bad adaptation of the Conan franchise.

So, people may raise their eyebrows when I say I actually enjoyed it. Not as much as I enjoyed the older movies and neither this film or those films are a scratch on the books and comics, but I had a good time. But that is mostly because Conan is played by a younger Jason Momoa.

A New Conan (At The Time)

Jason Momoa played the role of Conan quite well, I’d say. Though, I must admit, he was more on the brawn side of Conan and not the thinker and tactician we got from the books and comics. And, ahough the action was good, the film really hit the nail on the head with the setting and the scenery.

It felt like an exotic land though the film was very rushed from start to finish. So, as each environment came into the story, the characters were whisked away to the next place.

Conan 2011

Wrong Era?

Upon reading about some opinions on this movie, I couldn’t help but notice one recurring question. “Was this movie too masculine for its time?”

I’m inclined to think so. Conan is not a civilised man. He offends and he makes no apology for it. In the comics, he calls women ‘wrenches’, he throws the damsels in distress over his shoulder, and takes them to safety. The film didn’t really shy away from this, but it was toned down compared to The Dark Horse comics.

So, yes, maybe the era was the wrong era. But Netflix is currently investing in the Conan universe, so maybe that era is changing? There has been talk of the pendulum is swinging back.

With Hollywood in disarray and many actors speaking out against cancel culture and how nobody is pushing boundaries in storytelling due to that fear of being cancelled, I can’t help but wonder: is now the time for a story like Conan to come out?

If this film came out now would it do better?

I have spoken to other writers and readers who gobble these stories up and they have expressed how there is a market for stories that push boundaries that don’t care about offending. Even the owner of the Conan franchise, Fredrik Malmberg said in an interview with Midnight’s Edge that Conan was a politically incorrect character.

Despite its flaws, this film was a fun watch, . But I think at the time, there was very little urge to watch something like Conan The Barbarian. But I have faith that the culture is changing. 

I feel some of our stories have become too safe and, as a result, too boring. Writers shouldn’t be scared to write stories that offend.

“Art doesn’t care about your feelings and neither should it.”