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The Role Arnold Schwarzenegger Regrets Taking

Few actors fulfilled the hyper-macho archetype of the 1980s like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In many ways, his performances in The Terminator, Predator, and Commando helped define the term "action hero." However, Schwarzenegger's beginnings as an icon are a bit different than the bulk of his famous roles. In many ways, both Schwarzenegger's career and the genre he  specialized in were dominated by modern or sci-fi settings. The world of '80s action had very little room for fantasy, except for Conan the Barbarian.

Based on the Hyborian Universe created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s, Conan the Barbarian (along with its sequel, Conan the Destroyer) was among Schwarzenegger's first iconic action roles. Prior to the first movie's 1982 release, the seven-time Mr. Olympia had yet to enter the mainstream with his other starring roles. The Conan movies changed the perception of Schwarzenegger, and his newfound star power opened the door to his other iconic roles. Unfortunately, the Conan franchise crashed and burned thanks to a movie that didn't even include the character. Despite technically being a Conan film, this 1985 sequel gave Schwarzenegger a role he would regret taking more than any other.

What was so bad about Red Sonja?

Though Conan did not appear in the film, Red Sonja was based on later stories set in the Hyborian Universe. The eponymous character, Red Sonja, was created as an addition to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series of comics in the mid-1970s (via Marvel wiki). In many ways, the film did its best to not-so-subtly pull in Schwarzenegger's army of Conan fans via this connection. Even Schwarzenegger's character, Kalidor, was somewhat of a Conan knockoff in appearance and mannerisms. 

Unfortunately, Red Sonja was a massive flop, even with the extra Conan publicity. In his biography, Schwarzenegger called it "the worst film [he's] ever made." The movie sits at a shameful 19% on Rotten Tomatoes and failed to live up to the standards set by the previous Conan movies. Fortunately for Schwarzenegger, the movie would only be a footnote in his long Hollywood career. His films aren't always classics, but if the worst thing Arnold Schwarzenegger ever did is still connected to a beloved fantasy franchise, he should still be satisfied.