Conan the Barbarian’s presence at Comic-Con has been reported, but another Jason Momoa-linked project is also present. Jason was part of a panel with his fellow cast from Game of Thrones, discussing elements of the show with questions from fans. Then, this:
3:22 p.m. For Jason Momoa, Martin asks, “Who would win? Khal Drogo or Conan?” Well, if Martin didn’t ask, the fans would. Momoa responds, “Well, George, between you and me… Drogo would kick Conan’s ass.”Then Momoa yells something loud in what may or may not be Dothraki. Awesome.
Confirmed by a Youtube video:
How… dare he!
Now, as would probably be expected, the folks at the Robert E. Howard Forums are somewhat perplexed by this statement. Not because they’re scandalized that anyone would dare say their favourite fictional barbarian could totally beat up their favourite fictional barbarian (though, naturally, they maintain Conan totally could), but because it really isn’t helping the promotion of Conan the Barbarian to say that another fictional character would kick his arse. As Stephen “Crossplains Pilgrim” Seal says it:
Yea, awesome. I am sure the Nu Age/Lionsgate PR guys are thrilled. I have now counted about 50 fansites that feature the quote and the sun hasn’t even come up here in Texas. A lot of those sites lead with it. Just Google “Jason Momoa says Khal Drogo would kick Conan’s a**!” and see what pops up. That quote may now be on its way to becoming part of the fanboy culture. “Check out the Conan flick? Are you kidding? Khal Drogo would kick his a**.” And who should know better than Jason Momoa? Anyway you cut it, he trashed his own character at ComicCon where he is supposed to be selling the picture. How dumb is that? Over the years Sly Stallone has been asked many times who would win a fight between John Rambo and Rocky Balboa. He always responds it would be a draw. They are his guys and he isn’t going to boost one over the other. Momoa would have better served the film’s prospects and many a Conan fan if he had done the same.
Since I’ll likely be limiting my editorializing in terms of the film itself, I’ll take the liberty of commenting on this situation.
While I frankly don’t care who could kick whose arse – these geeky arguments are frequently entirely subject to the personal tastes of the parties involved, as I’ve discovered in my observations regarding the eternal Star Trek vs Star Wars debates – I do think it’s essential to promote your upcoming film as strongly as possible. At Comic-Con, which is probably the gathering of the sort of individuals who have lengthy and meticulously crafted arguments over which fictional character could beat which fictional character in a fight, it seems astonishingly ill-advised to me to, essentially, say that a minor character in a cable television program that you’re no longer going to be playing could “kick the ass” of a character who’s your first leading role in a major motion picture who many people and millions of dollars are invested into starting a multi-picture franchise.
It boils down to this: Jason Momoa won’t be returning to the character of Drogo in Game of Thrones, or future series, unless Martin decides to get back into TV writing by producing a prequel series all about Drogo (which would be awesome, I must say). Drogo’s time is over. Conan’s time, on the other hand, is about to begin, and the filmmakers are looking to produce at least two sequels in the coming years. By saying Khal Drogo could beat Conan in a fight, considering both characters are barbarian warriors, you’re essentially saying that this character you used to play is better than the character you’re going to play – which isn’t exactly the sort of thing to inspire confidence.
Some may say that Jason was trying to ingratiate himself with Martin and the Westeros faithful. Fair enough – but he’s gained their appreciation already. He isn’t playing Drogo again. What would be the point in appealing to them, when you could use this as the perfect example to move any skeptical Martin fans onto Conan? For that matter, I’m sure Martin & his fans wouldn’t mind if Martin’s barbarian warrior was beaten by the archetypal, most well known, and most iconic, barbarian warrior in modern fantasy fiction. Conan is the original, the Ur example, the barbarian hero from which so many modern barbarian heroes can draw lineage. Even if you don’t necessarily agree, it just seems… well, polite.
I mean, one could commend him for speaking his mind – if he really believed Drogo could beat Conan, then why bother arguing – but from a promotional standpoint, it’s a bit of a disaster. It’s easy to say after the event what Jason should’ve said. Maybe he should’ve gone with the Stallone approach, and refused to pick a side. Maybe he should’ve said “neither, they’d go drinking and wenching at a tavern and then go out battling together.” Regardless of what he said: Drogo dies in his story. Conan lives. Drogo’s story is over. Conan’s is just beginning. That kind of says all that needs to be said.
EDIT: Some readers, here and elsewhere, are getting a bit bent out of shape about this – evidently my tongue-in-cheek “how dare he!” might’ve been taken at face value – so let me just be clear about how little I’m actually concerned about this. All I was commenting (in a somewhat disproportionate extent relative to my actual interest in the discussion) on was the fact that Jason’s off-the-cuff remark wasn’t exactly helpful from a marketing standpoint for the upcoming film. For Crom’s sake, though, he doesn’t deserve to be crucified over it. He made a light-hearted remark that was well-received by the present audience of Game of Thrones fans that had the unfortunate by-product of rubbing some people the wrong way. Let’s not make this into a thing. I’m sure the idea of enraged Conan fans starting a fuss would be just the sort of “crazy fan fight” soft journalists would love to ridicule.
On the other hand, controversy gets people talking, so who knows. Maybe this could start a whole new thing, as fans argue who would win out of the Dothraki warlord and the Cimmerian conqueror. Could be a new form of viral advertising, pitting Conan against other heroes. Just a suggestion!