Last year was a big one for pop culture. Marvel exploded on the scene with the release of the Black Panther movie. The Walt Disney Company saw fit to purchase one of the most iconic brands in the world, Lucasfilm, for a grand total of $7 billion. Money was no object as the House of Mouse spent millions to ensure that all of their iconic films were preserved for future generations.

A lot has changed since then. Disney has begun to dismantle parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and bring the films in-house. The success of the Black Panther film led to the acquisition of Ant-Man and the resurrection of the Fantastic Four franchise. While this is all wonderful news for fans of Marvel Studios, it’s not so great for lovers of the films. The acquisition of Disney by $300+ million and the upcoming releases of Avengers: Infinity War and the Dark World mean that many of our favorite Marvel characters could be forced into early retirement. The same can be said about much of the content owned by Disney. Befitting a company his size, Michael Eisner’s fondness for acquisitions led him to buy up anything and everything in sight.

This was reflected in the 2019 movies, with titles like Ready Player One, Where Wizards Stay Up Late and Geeza Stereo more or less existing in Marvel’s shadow. Although these titles might not be household names yet, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t loved by their respective communities. Wherever you might fall on the spectrum of autism awareness, there’s a TV show or movie that you’ll most likely recognize the storyline or characters of.

One of the most prominent faces in entertainment today is that of Robert Pattinson. Thanks to a string of mega–hits including Twilight, Breaking Dawn, the Burberry Britches campaign and Good Morning Britain, the Hollywood newcomer has risen to the top of his field. Since starring in a Shakespearean tragedy as King Henry V in 2015, Pattinson has become an in-demand actor, earning a reputation for putting in the hard work. He’s starred in some of the biggest movies of the past year including Bombshell, The Lighthouse, Artemis Fowl and The House Next Door, and now he’s taking on one of the most iconic characters of all time: Conan the Barbarian.

It’s no secret that Conan is a difficult character to embody. On one hand, you’ve got the brash, impetuous, strong willed Hyborian warrior; on the other, a pacifist, shrewd diplomat seeking favor with the gods. It takes a special kind of talent to bring these two contrasting characters to life onscreen and Pattinson seems to have what it takes. In this exclusive video, we’ll explore how Conan the Barbarian became one of the most prominent characters in pop culture and if Robert Pattinson is up to the task of embodying the legendary Cimmerian.

Conan The Barbarian

Conan is the creation of famous writer and artist Robert E. Howard. He first published his adventures of this heroic figure in 1932 and the character quickly became an instant hit. Conan subsequently appeared in a number of adaptations including the popular 1936 movie serials and an animated series that ran for three seasons. The character went on to become one of the most prominent figures in fantasy, appearing alongside J.R.R. Tolkien’s elvish and dwarf characters in the 1970s Marvel comic book series The Coming of Barbarians.

While Tolkien’s and Howard’s fantasy worlds were incredibly influential in shaping the modern comic book, it was the 1981 fantasy film directed by John Milius that most people associate with Conan. The movie, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, was a landmark piece of cinema that helped to elevate the status of fantasy in Hollywood. It also established the brutal, heroic persona that became such a defining feature of our favorite Cimmerian.

The years following John Milius’ Conan movie saw numerous sequels and prequels. While most of those flicks didn’t live up to the hype, the 2007 film Bloodfeud, which starred Thomas Jane, did introduce a darker, more terrifying side to our favorite hero. Since then, the character has appeared in major comic book series like Marvel’s The Thunderbolts and Dark Horse’s The Barbarian Chronicles. In 2018, Conan was also given his own Young Adult novel, Heart of Steel, which served as a prequel to the stories told in The Coming of Barbarians. It was written in collaboration with bestselling author John Gwynne and character designer and illustrator Michael Whelan.

Conan The Diplomat

In the comics, Conan is often depicted as a brash, impetuous strong willed warrior. It is less common to see him portrayed as the cunning opportunist or smooth–talking politician. These are qualities that Conan adopts in the 2019 movie adaptation of his adventures, aptly titled The Dark Crystal.

Admittedly, Pattinson’s Conan does come across as a bit too much like Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort. Both are brash, confident characters who exude power. You get the feeling that you’re not exactly finding much sweetness and light here. Still, The Dark Crystal, which also stars Felicity Jones, calls into question Conan’s very nature. Is this truly the barbarian inside all of us or is it a carefully constructed persona?

The Dark Crystal adapts Howard’s Conan stories as a loose adaptation of the famous fantasy novel The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s an origin story that traces Conan’s quest for the mythical treasure known as the Dark Crystal. Directed by Andy Serkis, The Dark Crystal explores the lengths to which that one particular individual will go in order to achieve his goal. It’s a story that’s more common in literature than in movies and even TV shows. Serkis’ film adaptation does a good job of keeping the brutality, mysticism and wonder of Howard’s stories intact while adding a few interesting twists of his own.

While the original version of Conan the Barbarian mostly sticks to brawling and burning cities, Serkis’ adaptation has some scenes that break the mold. One of the most memorable moments in the film comes when Conan first encounters the giant, reptilian bird–like creatures that are the titular Dark Crystal. The hunter and the hunted here exchange a series of dialogue–free combat scenes. It’s a remarkable moment of pure cinematic magic.

Conan The Avenger

Since the release of the first John Milius-directed Conan film in 1981, the character’s screen presence has evolved along with cinema–going audiences. These days, audiences want their action movies packed with more bang for their buck and less cheese. This was the driving force behind the 2014 reboot of the Conan franchise, which starred Jason Momoa. If you want to call the John Milius–directed Conan the Avenger, then go ahead. We’ll let you get on with your cinematic experiments.

In many ways, the Jason Momoa directed Conan film was a direct continuation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original interpretation of the character. That is, no frills, no fancy pants – just grunts, violence and lots of blood. The movie’s marketing campaign, which featured Momoa in full facial prosthetics, gave fans of the character a brand new look at him. It was also the first time that many of them had seen him depicted in a more ‘human’ looking form, having largely abandoned his more physically imposing appearances in favor of a more streamlined look.

Since then, the popular Conan film series has continued to evolve, drawing more heavily on Japanese samurai films and the works of director Kurosawa. The 2016 Conan movie, which starred Jeremy Renner, was an adaptation of the famous fantasy novel They Came from Beyond Earth, co–written by John Gwynne and Tom Taylor. In the book, a group of American scientists are exploring a crashed alien spaceship and are forced to fight for their survival among a group of murderous savages. It’s a classic ‘70s dystopian scenario that fits perfectly into the gritty, contemporary cinematic style that director Marcus Nispel brings to the screen.

The Coming of Barbarians marks the first time that Robert Pattinson has starred in a Disney film. The actor, who recently wrapped a massive chunk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portrays the half–bred, conquering hero Conan the Barbarian. The role has been described as one of the most iconic of all time and it seems that most people who’ve seen it agree.

In the comics, Conan is often depicted as a brash, impetuous strong willed warrior. It is less common to see him portrayed as the cunning opportunist or smooth–talking politician. These are qualities that Conan adopts in the 2019 movie adaptation of his adventures, aptly titled The Dark Crystal.