Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Most Badass Movie Moments

Going Commando, kicking ice, and taking names since 1970

After the horrible events of the last week, a hero has emerged. A Last Action Hero, if you will. Arnold Schwarzenegger, last seen making funny “Stay Home” videos with his pet donkey, appeared in our feeds, invoking Kristallnacht, telling sad stories of his Austrian childhood. Then, he brandished THE SWORD OF CONAN.

“You see this sword?” Schwarzenegger said. “This is Conan’s sword. Now, here’s the thing about swords; the more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes. The more you pound it with a hammer and then heat it in the fire and then thrust it into the cold water, and then pound it again and plunge it into the fire and into the water, the more often you do that, the stronger it becomes. Now, I’m not telling you all this because I want you to become an expert sword maker, but our democracy is like the steel of this sword. The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”

Now this was the Arnold Schwarzenegger we all remembered from our childhoods, not the cigar-tent Governator who impregnated his housekeeper, but an unapologetic avenger who shattered his enemies. So I put up a post on Facebook, asking people to remember Schwarzenegger’s most badass movie moments. One person, perhaps not impressed by the sword of Conan, reminded us of Schwarzenegger’s pre-governor habit of groping women. But that didn’t get as much traction as a bunch of old clips from Commando.

Here, then, is an assortment of clips featuring Schwarzenegger kicking ass and spouting catchphrases. Like the sword of Conan, the more you view them, the stronger they become.

Hercules In New York (1970)

The great defender of democracy got his cinematic start with Hercules In New York, and first showed his true heroism with this scene, where he travels to Central Park and beats up a man in a bear suit to the tune of Greek dancing music.

Pumping Iron (1977)

In the documentary that made him a household name, here we see Schwarzenegger retiring from professional bodybuilding while smoking weed and wearing a T-shirt that reads “Arnold is Numero Uno”.

Conan The Barbarian (1982)

“Conan, what is best in life?”

“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.”

Also receiving votes: The Prayer to Crom.

Commando (1985)

This film marked the true beginning of Arnold Schwarzenegger: Action Hero, given that he was the bad guy in The Terminator, the movie that forever sealed him in our consciousness. The scene above contains it all: Ludicrous car chase, gratuitous revenge murder, muscling, and cheesy catchphrase.

Predator (1987)

In the most manly scene in cinematic history, legends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers engage in an introductory arm-wrestle without a table. 

The Running Man (1987)

There are so many amazing scenes from this second-greatest-ever Schwarzenegger dystopia film. But for pure badassery, you can’t top his ownage of Buzzsaw. Watch out, Ted Cruz!

Total Recall (1990)

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Is it possible that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the best movie of 1990? Possibly, considering that was the year that Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture, and Dances With Wolves appeared, winning Best Picture the following year. Who doesn’t love Total Recall, which contains numerous badass Verhoven-directed Arnold scenes. Depicted: the horrifying moment where Arnold finds himself exploding when caught outside in the Martian atmosphere, yet still survives.

Kindergarten Cop (1990)

It only took five years for Arnold to pivot to knowing self-parody. In this fun scene from Kindergarten Cop that still manages to be exciting, he busts up a club.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

While it’s certainly arguable that Robert Patrick or Linda Hamilton is the actual badass in this scene, you can’t get around the fact that Arnold is driving an Oldsmobile in reverse while shooting a killer android from the future with a shotgun.

Batman and Robin (1997)

Schwarzenegger’s hideous yet still remarkably entertaining performance as Mr. Freeze in this disastrous Batman movie marked the end of his prime movie-star period. The movie is basically one long catchphrase.

And yet, it appears quite evident that movie-star Schwarzenegger is coming back. He never really went away. A Terminator movie appeared in 2019, and he continues to be part of the Expendables ensemble. But now we’re looking at a Twins sequel in production, plus rumors that he’s going to star in a Western TV series. Most importantly, The Legend of Conan will be coming soon to a theater or a streaming service near you, or both. One could almost cynically think that, while Schwarzenegger found the events at the Capitol as upsetting as the rest of us, that he used his speech to engage in a little savvy promotion for his upcoming Conan project. If Schwarzenegger has proven anything over his 50 years in the public light, it this: He’ll be back.



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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 12 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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