Anybody that knows me fairly well expected this article to slash the web sooner than later. I am a HUGE Conan fan. Like HUGE! I got the books and comics, the Age of Conan Video Game, the films, the cartoon, the XBOX 360 game, a statue (Thanks JoBlo for that one), shit I even have the damn sword on my wall. I’m so passionate about the character, his code of ethics and his world and I love that it's enduring. When I wanna hang back, it's usually CONAN time! So yup with the news of Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the role that set him on the path to Hollywood stardom; Conan The Barbarian (also known as Conan The Cimmerian and Amra The Lion to close friends), I had to chime in as to whom the ideal director for the movie would be.
Now in my perfect Conan fanboy world, JOHN MILIUS, the director of the 1982 original would tackle this third entry and bring the franchise full circle. He started it with class and balls and I would love for him to finish it that way as well. Milius is no Hollywood puppet. The man is a rebel (much like Conan himself) and he'd ace another Conan entry. Shite, he even has a script already written (called KING CONAN) ready to go! But that won’t happen. They have a new vision in the works called LEGEND OF CONAN and screenwriter Chris Morgan who penned RONIN (1998) is up to bat to maybe write it and produce it. The movie is actually slated to start shooting towards the end of 2013 in New Zealand (great choice of location). Hopefully the lackluster performance of Arnie's THE LAST STAND won't hinder that. So with Milius out, who has the mad skills, the experience and the cojones to convey the "be quick or be dead" world of Hyboria and its savage citizens with the quality, boldness and dignity they deserve? Most won’t like my answer…but it's WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT Mad Max himself, MEL F*CKING GIBSON.
Conan ready to throw down!
I know Mel said this, Mel did that, burn him at the stake, la-di-da. But that's not my focus here. What I’m looking at is his mammoth talent and how his body of work relates to Conan, particularly the 1995 BRAVEHEART (which got him Best Director and Best Picture at the Oscars) and the 2006 APOCALYPTO. They both stand out as strong proof as to WHY Gibson would be the ideal director to tackle LEGEND OF CONAN. In both films, Gibson showed a grasp on delivering grand scale historical epics with panache and superior skills. He also came through with the spectacle aspect of both pieces while at the same time managing to have layered characters that you cared for and that didn’t get lost in the wam-bam. LEGEND OF CONAN needs that.
Action wise, in both films, Gibson proved that he has what it takes. The sword fights in Braveheart were visceral and grounded. The violence itself was no holds barred with maiming, decapitations, and mucho blood shed. It wasn’t “fun’ violence but REAL violence. LEGEND OF CONAN needs that. And who can forget the extended chase sequence at the end of Apocalypto? Lets face it, it was probably one of the more enthralling chases ever put on film. Now that's freaking TALENT! BLEW MY MIND! Conan needs that. Finally Gibson also knows how to play up a good love story. Being that Conan is a poon hound, I am pretty sure a romantic subplot will be on hand in the new movie (his Queen perhaps) and Gibson is aces at those. He excells at shooting dramatic scenes in an earnest way and in directing his actors (he understands them, he is one himself). So another win. The world of CONAN sports themes like honor, pride, revenge, bravery, sorrow, guilt while wearing the macho proudly on its blood soaked sleeve. Gibson is ALL ABOUT that.
Mel Gibson doing the GENIUS on the Apocalypto set.
Now being one of the few who actually enjoyed Jason Momoa’s take on CONAN (basically the Comic book incarnation come to life with lots of liberties taken, that's the way I saw it), I still crave for a less Popcorn and truer to ROBERT E HOWARD (tone and maturity wise) rendition of the Cimmerian. Now from what I hear, that’s what the folks behind LEGEND OF CONAN are going for. A large scale and serious movie that is more in line with Oscar fare than summer blockbuster. And I am all for that!
In my sure to be bashed opinion, a sure bet in accomplishing that goal is to get MEL GIBSON at the helm. Sure RIDLEY SCOTT could work (as proven in Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), but I’d rather have a genius savage with a heart of gold bring a genius savage with a heart of gold to life. And we all know who that genius savage is. Done! A fan can dream… this is mine... that and nailing Gemma Arterton a quatre pattes but that's for another article...
“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.” ― Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan)