Certain tropes and conventions have heroes and villains that exemplify them to the letter; Superman is the quintessential Caped Hero, and Norman Bates is the prototypical Psychotic Killer. Conan the Barbarian is the Godfather of Barbarian Heroes; created by Robert E. Howard in 1932, Conan's will span a full century come December 2032.
The Cimmerian has displayed incredible feats of strength, willpower, and skill throughout the decades. We're going to look at ten of Conan the Barbarian's best moments. To do this, we'll have to scour through thousands of novel and comic book pages and hours of cinema. We'll examine everything from the original Conan stories to the classic 1980s films.
10 Operating The Wheel Of Pain Alone
As with any character that's been around for decades, Conan's origin story gets a facelift periodically. In Howard's original stories, Conan was born in the middle of a battlefield (something that would influence Guts from Berserk's backstory.) However, the 1982 film decided to put a different spin on Conan's backstory.
After surviving a raid by Thulsa Doom's men, a young Conan and a group of other children get kidnapped. Doom's men then place the children in the Wheel of Pain - a torture device that breaks the mind while strengthening the body. Conan endures this torment for years, maturing from an adolescent into a fully grown man. As he does, all of the other captives gradually die off - eventually leaving Conan as the only man left to operate the Wheel of Pain. Without wincing or grimacing, Conan continues to operate the cumbersome Wheel all by himself!
9 Wrestles A Rhino
This feat comes from the world of comics. While the films do a great job depicting Conan's strength, budgetary constraints and the laws of physics limit what can and can't make it to the big screen. Comic books, however, aren't bound by those same limitations; if an artist has the skills, they can draw just about anything!
As a result, Conan often faces off against more inhuman foes than he did in any of the films based on him. Sometimes the Cimmerian has to fight demons Hell or monsters straight out of horror films! Other times, he has to wrestle stampeding rhinos down to the ground and remind them why he's called 'The Destroyer.'
8 Falls 100 Feet And Lives
Strength isn't always about hitting the hardest; a lot of times, the strongest thing we can do is endure - roll with the punches and maintain our composure. For all of his feats that center around punching out dinosaurs and choking out giants, Conan the Barbarian has just as many feats of endurance and durability.
During his adventuring days, Conan once found himself in the confines of a medieval castle. The Cimmerian rarely ever travels without getting into a fight and having to make a speedy exit. When the Barbarian had to escape from the castle and his options became limited, he jumped out of the window and full hundreds of feet until he crashed against a wooden cart - then got right back up, bloody but miraculously alive!
7 Left Unscorched By Dragon's Breath
A massive part of Conan's charm is his ability to disregard logic and reason on a whim. In many ways, the Cimmerian resembles Golden Age Superman - seemingly making up new powers on the fly and performing impossible feats with ease! In reality, Conan the Barbarian's arduous upbringing and rigorous training are what allow him to perform so many superhuman feats of strength.
Still, we're at a loss trying to figure out how Conan survived dragon's fire! The guy next to him (the one with the affinity for purple) has the blessing of the Gods. Conan, on the other hand, doesn't have any divine protection. Apparently, he's just that tough!
6 Conan The One Man Wrecking Crew
Conan the Barbarian is a master martial artist, skilled swordsman, and instinctual combatant. Most of the time, he can beat foes by hacking them to bits with cold steel or pounding them to death with his bare hands. Every now and then, the Cimmerian faces a foe that requires a more modest approach - like dropping a thousand-ton temple of their heads.
The Barbarian's killed scores of monsters by pushing massive pillars and ancient columns on top of them. Conan also won't hesitate to pick up a fallen tree and use it as an impromptu spear! And if all else fails, Conan has enough strength to destabilize gargantuan structures with a kick.
5 Kills A Wolf With His Baby Teeth
Do you remember that awesome scene in 300, where a young Leonidas kills a ravenous wolf all by himself? Now imagine doing the same thing, only you don't have a spear and you're only eight years old. Such a task sounds utterly impossible, right? Well, not if you're Conan the Barbarian.
In a recent retelling of Conan's origin, the Cimmerian encounters a pack of wolves during his formative years. The pack's leader charges at the young boy - intent on killing him and then feasting on his remains. Only a child at the time, Conan takes the wolf head on - stapping it with his knife and ripping out its throat with his baby teeth!
4 Literally Wrestles With Death
In a philosophical sense, we all wrestle with Death during the course of our relatively short lives. The Grim Reaper always wins in the end, but we manage to put up quite a fight before our days are done - metaphorically speaking. Not one for purple prose and dainty sentiments, Conan the Barbarian's always been a literalist.
Not content with figuratively grappling with his mortality, Conan once wrestled the physical embodiment of death to a standstill! Even while the Grim Reaper sucked the Destroyer's life force away, Conan held them down with vicelike strength. Death had to beg and bargain with Conan to regain its freedom!
3 Destroys An Avatar Of Dagoth
Do we need to issue a spoiler warning for a movie that's more than forty years old? There are probably enough parodies of this scene that have already spilled the beans, come to think of it. Eh, we should probably do it to cover all of our bases. This scene comes from the end of Conan The Destroyer. If you don't want any specific details spoiled, then please read on dear readers.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the time Conan beat the avatar of an evil god! The Destroyer needed his friends to help weaken the monster first. However, he alone tore the horn off of the demon's head - expelling the demon from his world. For added context, swords and spears only created flesh wounds on the monster's durable hide.
2 Solos Thog, The "God Of Xuthal"
We might need to add exorcist to Conan the Barbarian's impressive list of titles. The Cimmerian has a penchant for dispelling demons and maiming monsters. Thanks to his incredible intelligence, Conan gets exponentially better at a task with time and practice. That's how he managed to take out Thog, the 'God of Xuthal' all on his own!
During the Slithering Shadow storyline, Conan and his then-girlfriend Natala come face to face with a horrific abomination. At first, Conan isn't sure that he can beat the demon. However, he musters up his strength and his courage, then beheads the beast and tosses its remains down a well!
1 Climbs A Mountain With Mjlonir
We didn't mention it earlier, but Conan exists in the Marvel Universe. Marvel vs. Capcom fans probably know who Shuman Gorath is. If you don't, we'd best describe him as a Dormammu-level entity from Conan's stories! With the bad also comes the good, as evident in Conan the Barbarian's meeting with Thor the Thunderer.
After suffering a severe injury, Thor passes on Mjolnir to Conan. In honor of his fallen friend, The Cimmerian takes the hammer and sets out to climb the Grey Mound. Without stopping or faltering, Conan puts on an epic display of strength and climbs a towering mountain while holding on to Mjolnir!