With a remake of Conan the Barbarian coming out this Friday, it's time to contemplate the awesomeness of sword and sandal movies. You know - movies set in the mythical days of antiquity, when everybody carried swords, wore sandals (or leather boots), and opened their mouths really wide while fighting.
Nothing says "sword and sandal" like crazy leather outfits and chest-baring. Especially when you throw some barbarians into the mix. Here are some of the most memorable barbarian looks created by Hollywood.
Let's start with a late twentieth century classic: Conan the Barbarian, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in a mankini, tooth necklace, and a lot of oil. This is probably the most classic sword and sandal barbarian outfit, though as you'll see there are several variations that involve chest straps.
In the new Conan the Barbarian movie, coming out this Friday, Jason Momoa shows us a tamer version of the barbarian outfit. The mankini has been replaced with a modest, long skirt. At least he has several extraneous leather belts and a tooth necklace to keep things edgy.
In Spartacus, playing the eponymous hero, Kirk Douglas shows some loincloth and the ever-popular cross-chest strap. He's also got the bonus armored arm, perhaps to make up for the fact that all his other soft parts are naked to the air.
In the new Conan flick, Jason Momoa tries out the armored arm look too, though doesn't quite pull it off due to his long skirt covering up the ever-important loincloth.
Hercules Unchained is one of the most iconic sword and sandal movies, and here you can see Hercules posing in an off-the-shoulder number. Muscle-bound hero Steve Reeves teaches us that if you can't wear chest straps or go mostly naked, at least have the decency to bare some chest and one nipple.
Now we're talking. In 300, there are so many mostly-naked fighters that you forget that they are civilized Spartans and start getting that barbarian feeling. You've got to love a movie where everybody wears swords and leather underwear. I know I do.
You don't have to wear a skirt to be a barbarian. Check out the pants on Jamie Bell, who is giving us his best pube cleavage smolder. He's the barbarian pal to a centurion traveling through the wilds of Scotland during the Roman occupation in The Eagle.
And then there are the barbarian fashions you can never unsee. Here, the future barbarian Sean Connery wears thigh-high leather boots and a hot red loincloth with red chest straps. It must be Zardoz!
Somehow Charlton Heston manages to keep his nipples covered in sword and sandal classic Ben Hur. Love those fetishistically buckled gloves and whip, though.
He's not a barbarian exactly, but Russell Crowe is striking the perfect sword and sandal pose in this picture. Like Spartacus, above, he's not showing nip. And he's got a modest leather skirt, with a cute cotton slip underneath. Still, he manages to work some straps in there and keep his mouth in the right shape for a sword and sandal epic. In comics, this facial expression would be called "blowjob face." In Gladiator, we call it . . . um . . .
And we call this . . . Sparta!
In Centurion, a Roman soldier is being chased by a vengeful barbarian who manages to look deadly without baring any chest at all, and without making the blowjob face. Olga Kurylenko's outfit here is the rare exception to the barbarian chest rule, perhaps because she lives in the freezing forests of England. Or maybe because the barbarian genre is all about male nipples, not female.
In Disney's forthcoming swashbuckler John Carter, our titular hero (Taylor Kitsch) is transported to Barsoom (AKA Mars). He quickly adopts the local barbarian fashion with — you guessed it — straps on his chest! Apparently chest strap fashion is popular all over our solar system.