The world of comic books and the MCU had better watch out, because Marvel finally has the rights back to Conan the Barbarian.
While Conan may be remembered in cult fandom thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger's portrayal of the character in John Milius' 1982 movie and its sequel, it is easy to forget that the bloody barbarian has been a major part of comics for nearly 50 years now.
According to Marvel Comics the sword-swinging hero will triumphantly return to comic book powerhouse with a new series in January 2019. While it is great news, Marvel's Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski seems particularly pleased to bring Conan home under his comic book umbrella:
"From Barry Windsor-Smith to John Buscema to Neal Adams, a legendary lineup of amazing artists brought Conan to life in the pages of Marvel comics...“It’s a legacy we’re now going to live up to with the talent we have lined up for the Cimmerian barbarian’s homecoming in early 2019. We’re excited!”
Teaming up with Conan Properties International, Marvel has snatched the rights back from Dark Horse Comics, who have handled Conan since 2003. Although Dark Horse has had a solid run with Conan, their sixth and final entry was 2016's Conan the Slayer. It is impressive to think that between 1970 and 2000, Marvel brought fans over 650 issues about muscular menace, but fans will undoubtedly be questioning if the latest chapter can live up to Roy Thomas' acclaimed work that started the series. Given that Marvel seems to be on something of a buying spree thanks to the backing of Disney, it seems only right that Conan toward the top of their list for returning properties.
As for movies, the acquisition of the Conan comics by Marvel could hint at a brighter future for his big-screen adventures too. Despite the first movie becoming something of a cult classic, the franchise has languished in development hell after the cancellation of Conan the Conqueror in the mid-'80s and Jason Momoa's dire portrayal in 2011's Conan the Barbarian. Although there were plans for a full Schwarzenegger sequel called The Legend of Conan, the project was dropped last year. While there is no news on another big screen adaptation, the fact that the comic series is finally returning to Marvel must mean good news for Conan's chances in the MCU.
With fans of the character including former President of the United States Barack Obama, there is a major Conan fanbase out there. While he may not cross his sword with the likes of Iron Man's armor or Thor's hammer all-too-often, the possibility for crossovers is surely too good to pass up on? Also, as Disney's cinematic slate expands with the X-Men and Fantastic Four, could a Conan adventure be one of those 20+ movies that Kevin Feige has teased beyond Phase 3 of the MCU? There is no other news on what to expect with Conan's next comic series, but it is great to see the sword and sorcery hero back where he belongs.