This weekend, we finally see Arnold Schwartzenegger back on movie screens, and it’s been far, far too long since that happened. He has, of course, been busy running one of the largest economies on Earth, and that hasn’t exactly been easy.  So could the man who defined ’80s violent excess on screen be true to his catch-phrase, and actually be back?

The Case For A Hollywood Comeback

The way California is currently going, he’s got to be solely tempted.  He first took the helm in California in 2003, after the… well, let’s just say the “troubled” tenure of one Gray Davis, who was so terrible California actually held a recall election for the sole purpose of getting rid of his ineffectual wussiness and replace him with somebody who might actually get things done.

Since then, we had a great economy and so California did well, especially in the ever robust, always profitable housing market.

Yeah, you might be able to see where this one is going.

  • California is currently staring down a foreclosure crisis that even Goldman Sachs would find terrifying.  And that’s not the only problem, either.  Arnold has found himself fighting the state legislature just to pass a budget over the last few years, and also found himself right at the center of one of the biggest debates in America today, with Proposition 8 getting passed and then overturned.  Just to add to the fun, the Governator is that extremely rare beast in national politics these days, a moderate Republican, and that’s not a good place to be right now, with angry loudmouths forcing the GOP to the right.
  • He’s also got to ask himself how far, exactly, he can go in politics.  He’s on his last term as governor.  Despite the jokes of “The Simpsons”, he’ll never be President; only native-born citizens can get into the Oval Office.  However, he could run for Senator, but he was just forced to cut services across the board, and his popularity is at an all-time low.  Running for Senator would be a hard fight, and he might not have the backing and enthusiasm he enjoyed in 2003 and 2006.
  • Going back to Hollywood, he’d be welcomed with open arms.  When word he was performing a cameo in The Expendables, the Internet went wild with hopes it was more.  Rumors circulated for months that he was involved in the new Conan, to the point where people were alleging he’d appear with CGI muscles.  His movies still sell well on DVD, and he’s still one of the most recognizable people on the planet.  In short, Arnold is still a star.  But does that mean the same thing now that it did in his heyday?

The Case Against a Comeback

If you want hard numbers, really, look no further than his performance in the 200os.  Before he retired in 2003 for politics, he was the lead in one movie that was an unqualified hit: Terminator 3 To be fair, one of his movies, Collateral Damage, had incredibly bad timing, coming out around 9/11, but looking at his overall career and performance of his movies, it’s undeniable that he was on a down-slope and even, with T3, managed to turn into a parody of himself.  If politics hadn’t come along, it might have gotten a lot worse.

  1. Action movies have also changed substantially since the last time he picked up a mini-gun. Where before they were driven by stunts and practical effects, now they’re driven by CGI and intellectual properties like comic books.  And we’ve already seen exactly how Arnold handles comic book material; Batman and Robin, anyone?  As the struggles of Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson attest, it’s hard out there for a muscle-bound hero.
  2. Next we have to consider age: he’s incredibly fit, obviously, but he’s also just turned 63 years old.  Sure, you’ve got guys in their sixties running around making dents in skulls; Bruce Willis is still an action hero.  But Willis has consistently stayed in the public’s eye and made fun of himself, and even his action movies are dealing with his age.  His next movie, “Red”, is about a retired action hero.
  3. Finally, there’s the question of a political comeback.  Arnold has a little time before he has to decide whether he wants to face the voters again, as he’s still got to finish out his term.  And if the economy reverses, he might have more credibility with voters in the Golden State.

Possibility of a Comeback:

Unlikely.  He doesn’t need the money, and he probably doesn’t need the hassle.  Still, it won’t be a surprise if he will, in fact, be back for a few more cameos; after all, when you get that much abuse from your voters, it’s nice to hear from people who still like you. I you get a couple of mill to show up on set and have people pat you on back and tell you how cool you are, it isn’t a bad thing if you’re having a bit of a bad day. It’s hard being Arnie!

Think he’ll be back?  Tell us in the comments!