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Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Conan film series as it should be

So the new Conan movie trailer is out, and I mostly think it's crap. I won't get into the reasons here--there has been enough talk all over the web about that. I decided, rather, to outline my own ideal series of Conan movies, which would actually be faithful to Howard's conception of the character and world, rather than just pretending that was my intent.

Seriously, it's not rocket science to make a good Conan film. You just need to understand that you can't do it better than the original creator. That being said, I will combine a few elements of what I consider to be the better (or at least useful) de Camp/Carter/Nyberg pastiches.

So without further ado, here we go.

Conan of Cimmeria - The first film would briefly adapt Dark Horse comics' most recent origin story, which I found to be an excellent take on what Howard himself wrote in letters about Conan's origin, then combine it with The Frost Giant's Daughter and The Tower of the Elephant. In this film Conan grows to a young man and becomes the adventurer and thief that we know and love, gaining and showing skills that will serve him well in his rise to kingship later. The film would end with him signing on to a pirate crew to try his luck on the high seas.

Conan: Queen of the Black Coast - The sequel would adapt Queen of the Black Coast and go on for just a bit after Belit's death, introducing Valeria as a minor character towards the end.

Conan: Red Nails - The third film, a straight-up adaptation of "Red Nails," picking up where the second film left off.

Conan: The People of the Black Circle - another straight-up adaptation (see a pattern here, folks?) of one of the best stories in the series.

Conan the Usurper - yes, I'm stealing the title from the old Ace series. This film would show Conan's ambitious rise to power, combining elements from "Beyond the Black River" with "Wolves Beyond the Border" and the pastiche Conan the Liberator. Note that I say "elements," here. It wouldn't be a straight up adaptation, though BtBR would be pretty straight, I think, and could bring Conan into league with the Aquilonian rebels. "Wolves" could act as a framing story for the overall narrative. Liberator, while possessed of many flaws, has some excellent elements for a Conan story--a dark sorcerer, a wicked temptress, great battles, and Conan strangling Numedides on the steps of the throne.

Conan: The Hour of the Dragon - Need I say more? The film would end with Zenobia's wedding to Conan.

Conan the Avenger - This film would combine "The Phoenix on the Sword" with the aforementioned novel, replacing Nyberg's Yah Chieng with Thoth-Amon as the kidnapper of Zenobia.

Conan of Aquilonia - The final film in the series would be an adaptation of de Camp and Carter's Ace paperback, with certain elements added. We would need to see the birth of Conn (Conan II) and his rearing to a teenager who strongly resembles his father. Following that, we move into Thoth-Amon's kidnapping of the boy, and Conan's quest to save him. The end of the film would deviate from that of the book, as I never liked the final battle between Conan and Thoth-Amon being fought in the ethereal plane. Somehow or another Conan would overcome Thoth-Amon's magic and probably choke the life out of the sorcerer with his bare hands. Likely this defeat would come with some help from Prince Conn, so the boy would seem like a worthwhile eventual successor to his father's throne. Likely I would have the boy somehow slip the ring off of Thoth-Amon's finger, rendering him weak and powerless, after which Conan can easily dispatch of him. But the book again has great Conan-esque elements to it--evil sorcerers and witches, long journeys for adventure, and you'd get to see Aquilonia's armies attack Stygia. How can you not love that?

So that's probably my ideal Conan series. Feel free to chime in if you like.


  1. Hi..just figured we can continue our converdsation from earlier at CROM. I do not need to tell you how things work in Hollywood and that most ideas are subjected to a treatment not completely to everyones liking. And YES you're right about the Hyboria comment in the trailer...I did not even think about it while watching it. That was dumb to write that in like that. " He will enslave the people of Hyboria! " Pfahh!
    But seriously these people are not making these movies ( Still waiting for a good Superman film ) for guys like you and me. More than half the people who will see it won't even know it was a Comic book character much less his original pulp roots. But with a rewrite here and a tweak there and a change here and there and you have a marketable franchise. Too bad REH is not here today like JK Rowling to oversee the production and give the OK on what will be allowed as a change. But keep in mind Conan was a great warrior and lived many years and had many adventures. Just consider this as just another adventure. But that I'm alerted to it I'll be watching and listening for little things like " The people of Hyboria "
    But don't expect them too be 100 percent true to REH...they're not that smart. I'm just hoping they use some cgi to do something about his eyes. lol

  2. I don't expect 100% faithfulness. I'd accept 50, but they're not even going to give us 10.


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