1. We know that Red Sonya movie - by virtue of being based on Red Sonya comics - is set in the Conan the Barbarian universe.

  2. It's clear that Kalidor character in the movie bears a close resemblance to Conan (down to Arnold Schwarzenegger playing him).

  3. I know that there are speculations that #2 was by design (meaning, it WAS Conan), and they didn't use the Conan name for the character only because of rights issues (Universal held rights to Conan, and Red Sonya was made by Famous Films).

Question is: Is there anything to confirm that Kalidor was explicitly intended to be Conan and would have been if not for rights/trademark/licensing issues; similar to Spiderman missing from Marvel Cinematic Universe because of Sony rights?

I'm interested in information originating with the movie creative team or the studio. Preferably with documented proof as opposed to hearsay. May be an early screenplay, or a studio pitch, or DVD feature or interview.

  • Just to be clear - circumstantial evidence (such as listing comparisons between 2 characters) isn't what I'm interested in. Feb 4, 2014 at 2:52
  • 1
    even if true, I suspect you won't find anyone willing to officially confirm it and risk a lawsuit.
    – KutuluMike
    Feb 4, 2014 at 4:01
  • 1
    @MichaelEdenfield I disagree. Maybe they officially tried to get the rights to that character and the offer itself wasn't a secret: this would be proof enough for me.
    – o0'.
    Feb 26, 2014 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


The short answer is yes and no (but mostly yes).


The film Red Sonja is based on the comic-book character Red Sonja (with a "j") created by Roy Thomas. This character was, in turn based on the character Red Sonya (with a "y") created by Robert E. Howard and seen in the short story "The Shadow of the Vulture".

This is backed up on the official Conan website;

The Red Sonya (with a “y”) character was created in 1934 by Robert E. Howard. Howard’s Red Sonya of Rogatino first appeared in the Howard story 'The Shadow of the Vulture'. She was a 16th century Russian woman fighter who participated in the battle against the Turks in Vienna. She had absolutely nothing to do with Conan, or the Conan world of Hyboria.

The Red Sonja (with a “j”) character was created by Roy Thomas in 1974 and was set in Conan’s Hyborian Age. This Red Sonja was the heroine of the 1985 Film entitled Red Sonja.


Arnie was tied into a multi-picture deal with Dino de Laurentis and that Dino's strong desire was to create another Conan feature given the financial success of the two previous films. He'd even gone as far as pre-announcing that the next film would be based on the book "Conan the Conqueror".

Dino de Laurentis unfortunately faced two major obstacles, both of which related to his budget;

  1. The character rights for the Conan character were held by Universal and de Laurentis was evidently unable to secure them at a reasonable price.
  2. Arnold's bargain-basement salary deal meant that he couldn't be forced to work a full shooting schedule

Rather than simply abandon the whole project, de Laurentis had what must have seemed a master stroke. He managed to secure the rights to a less well known (and much cheaper) comic-book property called Red Sonja. Sonja was still set in the Hyborian universe which saved him from having to rethink the screenplay and he wouldn't need Arnie to work full time since he would effectively become the co-star of a Sonja film rather than the star of a Conan film. As an added bonus, his writers could simply rehash some existing Conan + Sonja books into the screenplay without having to worry about the rights issues.

Unfortunately for de Laurentis script issues, rock-bottom budget and dire casting choices would ultimately produce what Arnie referred to as "the worst film I've ever made".

In specific answer to your question; the party line is that Sonja and Conan will never meet. In reality, of course we can see that de Laurentis used the Sonja character rights as a figleaf for a 'Conan-in-all-but-name' film.

  • 5
    A confused user is trying to use wikipedia as a source to try and force this answer to change, I've voted to decline the edit and it is gone for now. Valorum's quote is directly from the official source, and is not "wrong" just because wikipedia disagrees. Quotes should be quoted as they are found on the source, not edited to correct them.
    – Theik
    Jun 26, 2023 at 11:22
  • @Theik - "Ibrahim had but one rival in his master's favor—the red-haired Russian girl, Khurrem the Joyous, whom Europe knew as Roxelana, whom slavers had dragged from her father's house in Rogatino to be the Sultan's harim favorite."
    – Valorum
    Jun 26, 2023 at 12:04
  • @Theik - Sonya's sister is stated to be Russian and hails from Rogatino, a real city near Leningrad.
    – Valorum
    Jun 26, 2023 at 12:05
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    I ended up looking through wikipedia's edit history to see where the Ukrainian quote even comes from, and it seems to have been edited ages ago by somebody who has long since been banned for bogus troll edits. Yet another reason why wikipedia should never be used as a source.
    – Theik
    Jun 26, 2023 at 12:37
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    @Theik - The historical character that Roxelana is based on was born in what is now known as the Ukraine.
    – Valorum
    Jun 26, 2023 at 12:44

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