Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Most Memorable Movies

Photo: Don Arnold (Getty Images)

During the ’80s and the ’90s, there hadn’t been a bigger action star in the world than the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger. Obviously, we’re not talking here about some exceptional dramatic performances or method acting. Arnold’s contributions to the whole film industry mostly consisted of unintelligible grunts, bad guy mutilations and cheesy catchphrases delivered upon their untimely deaths. Once he appeared on the screen, people knew what they were in for and loved every second of it. While some of the films he’s made are sci-fi cult works, others are so preposterous and bad that you simply can’t look away. This list of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies will give you some of his most memorable roles (both good and bad).

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Probably the first important film that truly introduced Arnold to the world was Conan the Barbarian, where he played the leading role of a sword-wielding brute who goes on a quest to avenge his people slaughtered by the evil wizard Thulsa Doom. The film quickly became a landmark for the genre and created a faithful fan base. Arnold’s impressive bodybuilder physique (as well as a poor grasp of the English language) made him a perfect choice for this film. After this one, Schwarzenegger made two more films in the same franchise – Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja, fortifying his place as the ultimate fantasy hero.

The Terminator (1984)

However, in 1984, led by the masterful James Cameron, Arnold made an impressive transition from a powerful fantastic hero to an evil, uncompromising robot from the future in the Terminator. This role is one of his defining roles and the first thing people think of when they hear Arnold’s name. In case you’re not all too familiar with one of the most significant sci-fi films ever made (how?), the Terminator is a film about a robot sent from the future to the present day in order to eliminate the mother of the resistance leader and stop him from being born. This was truly a milestone of a film that propelled both Cameron and Schwarzenegger to stardom.

Predator (1987)

Three years later appeared yet another film that introduced an iconic alien villain – Predator. This time Schwarzenegger returned as a badass commando, loaded with guns and ready to take on any natural or supernatural enemy. The Predator’s main characteristic was the highly developed night vision, that allowed it to locate and take out US soldiers one by one, except for, obviously Schwarzenegger’s character – Dutch. John McTiernan, who directed the film, later went on to direct other famous action flicks like Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, and Antonio Banderas’ the 13th Warrior, so it’s safe to say that this man knows a thing or two about real action.

The Running Man (1987)

Arnold Schwarzenegger The Running Man

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)

Considering how popular Arnold was at the time, it’s no wonder that yet another hit film was released the same year – The Running Man. The film was based on the story by the masterful Stephen King, who had written in under a pseudonym Richard Bachman. Although the movie did have a significant fan base and some rather interesting moments, it is considered a flop by many people including Schwarzenegger himself. The reason for this is that the original director of the film was fired just a week in and replaced by a TV director and actor known for Starsky and Hutch. Either way, The Running Man remains an important entry in Arnold’s rich career.

Twins (1988)

Now, Twins is one of those films that people would rather forget, but the thing is – they can’t. One of Arnold’s first main ventures into comedy, Twins was released in 1988 and easily made it’s way to a list of some of the worst movies ever. Arnold stars alongside Danny DeVito, as his long lost fraternal brother. While Arnold’s character is a product of a genetic experiment, Danny’s character is something of a side-product. If you think that’s hilarious, this might be just the movie for you. If not, you might as well skip it.

Total Recall (1990)

As he entered the ’90s, however, Arnold continued to make memorable movies, starting with the fantastic Total Recall, which was based on a story by the sci-fi giant Phillip K. Dick. Arnold plays a construction worker Douglas Quaid, who slowly starts to remember his past when he was a secret agent who operated on Mars. Once he goes there, he discovers a huge conspiracy and corruption on all sides. Although the film was remade in 2012 with an entirely new cast and new, more impressive special effect, the original is still far more superior. Pretty much nothing can top the original memorable and utterly disturbing scene at the airport.

Kindergarten Cop (1990)

We’ve already mentioned that we will list some pretty memorable film from Arnold’s career, regardless of whether they’re good or bad. Well, Kindergarten Cop, as you may have guessed belongs to the latter ones. Whoever came up with the idea of putting Arnold Schwarzenegger around a bunch of pre-school children to be an undercover cop out to get a dangerous criminal, should really not be allowed access to the film industry. This movie that tries way too hard to be a comedy fails miserably on all levels and (who knew?) it was directed by the same man who directed the Twins. Why?

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Arnold, however, made it all better with his next big film that marked the return of the vicious killer robot – Terminator, but this time on the side of the good. This time, Arnold plays a robot sent by the rebels to protect young John Connor from a more powerful robot also sent to destroy him. Yeah, it doesn’t sound too great when someone explains it, but it’s still one of the greatest sci-fi films ever, possibly even better than the original. Combine that with some ground-shaking soundtrack by the Guns N’ Roses, and you get an instant classic that has aged exceptionally well.

Junior (1994)

Of course, Arnold’s trilogy of absolutely horrible films with Ivan Reitman had to be finished with the worst film on the planet Earth – the 1994’s Junior. In this amazingly disappointing movie, Schwarzenegger plays a doctor who decides to become pregnant as a part of a scientific experiment. Why would anyone think it would be a good idea to turn one of the greatest action heroes into a pregnant lady? Sadly, it is still one of Arnie’s movies that really can’t be easily forgotten.

Batman & Robin (1997)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Batman and Robin Mr Freeze

Photo: Getty Images

Finally, Arnold’s last extremely memorable movie to get onto this list is yet another flop, Batman & Robin. Although this was his attempt to infiltrate a popular franchise at the time, he, unfortunately, picked a wrong time and ended in what is probably the worst Batman movie ever. There were so many things wrong with this George Clooney-centered movie that Arnie’s role as Mr. Freeze wasn’t too bad and left quite a mark in everyone’s minds. Still, it could have gone a lot better.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most memorable Arnold Schwarzenegger movie?