Conan: rebooted and explained

Marcus Nispel, the director of the new Conan the Barbarian reboot, talked to USA Today this week about the long-awaited film, which serves as a new adaptation of the original Conan source material.

His goal was to speak to those who feel the old Schwarzenegger version did not need to be remade. Besides the point that this is a readaptation, not a reboot or remake of the 1982 film, he emphasized that Conan is dated, and reflects a world, just out of the 70’s, which still worshiped machismo and brute strength.

“Our collective perception of who Conan is really changes through the decades and is not just defined by one thing alone,” said Nispel. “He needs to be updated.”

This Conan is not just about hitting things really hard with a sword, he’s about actual fighting skill and adaptation.

“Is this still a generation that embraces or reveres machoism?” Nispel asked rhetorically, noting there would still be plenty of manliness in the new Conan. “Are they still into an experience where you get dirt under your nails, and that’s sweaty and grimy and hard-core? I believe they will be.”

He also points out that, as it has been almost thirty years since the Schwarzenegger film, much of today’s audience has never even seen Conan in the theatre. “That’s why we’re here to relaunch the franchise,” he said. “Get Conan back out there. There’s a whole generation of kids who don’t know who he is.”

This clip provides a pretty good idea of what Nispel is talking about. It’s from the beginning of the film, so here ‘Young Conan’ is played by Leo Howard instead of Jason Momoa, but it gets the point across. (skip it if you’re squeamish, it’s pretty bloody.)

Even as a child, Conan is a badass fighter, but not just because he’s got buff arms. This Conan is lithe and agile, even improvising his weapons. He’s also got some personality in there, which Momoa will hopefully bring out in full force – although I still have a feeling that we’ll basically be getting Ronan the Barbarian.

For his own part, Momoa has really gotten into the role, even telling interviewers at Crave Online last week that he feels like he could write the script for the sequel; not that Hollywood would actually ever let that happen.

Conan the Barbarian hits theaters this weekend, August 19, 2011.