Conan the Barbarian is coming to theaters this Friday, August 19. I have mixed feelings about seeing this film. I'm sure that if I go to it expecting to see Conan as written by Robert E. Howard I will be disappointed. If I go to it hoping that it is more like the original Conan than the 1982 Conan film, I will probably feel ambivalent about it. Finally, if I go to it expecting a grand action Swords & Sorcery film, I'll most likely enjoy it. I always try to see any film with as few preconceived expectations as possible, but with a film based on a literary character that I am extremely familiar with, it will be very difficult.
I was first exposed to the world of Conan and Howard's Hyborian Age in the form of Marvel Comics, as written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John Buscema. I was given several of the Lancer Paperbacks for Christmas and once I read the Howard originals I was a Howard fan for life. I've since read all of Howard's original Conan stories and the pastiches finished by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp, as well as some of the better Conan original novels by Karl Edward Wagner, Andrew J. Offutt and Steve Perry. I've read most of Marvel's Conan comics as well as their Savage Sword of Conan black & white comics magazine. I have even been reading Dark Horse Comics' more recent adaptations of Howard's Conan stories. As far as the film versions of Conan go, I was enough of a fan back in the day to stand in a long line in 1982 to see John Milius' Conan film. I liked Arnold Schwarzenegger well enough as Conan, but Milius' and Stone's script was almost nothing like Howard's Conan and I was disappointed by it. The 1984 Conan the Destroyer had a story treatment by Conan comics scribes Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway pieced together from various Howard short stories, but the finished script by Stanely Mann made Conan a supporting character in his own film.
I remain hopeful that some of Howard’s noble barbarian will shine through in the new Conan the Barbarian film. If not, I think I'll still appreciate Jason Momoa as Conan; an actor whose TV work I'm familiar with from HBO's Game of Thrones and SY FY's Stargate: Atlantis. Director Marcus Nispal did a decent job on Parthfinder, which had a similar theme to Conan, so that has me fairly optimistic as well. Check out the trailer for Conan the Barbarian!