Stillman’s Slab #8: Barbarian II

Stillman returns with another victim for his character-devouring slab. This time it’s…. the Barbarian. Again.  Yes, the corpse so nice he’s carving it twice. Gruesome. It’s like Halloween in… October? At any rate, this column speaks lovingly of the Barbarian’s slightly less than original elements. He’s a cool character, and aside from his hair, face, beard, arms, legs, tattoos, muscles, weapons, and armor, he’s totally original to the Diablo series!

Here’s the start of the column, click through to read the whole thing, and let the author know what you think in the comments.

Barbarism, Part II

Haven’t I seen the Diablo Barbarians somewhere before? We’re back with another bone to pick with the Barbarian. Part 2 of Barbarism is about how borrowed the Barbarian is. It’s not that using good ideas from our mainstream culture is bad, but what is overbearing sometimes is when there is so much copying that not a trace of originality shines through. The result of borrowing too much is what you get with the Diablo 2 Barbarian, but this column will explore aspects of the Diablo 3 Barbarian as well. Are Blizzard’s Barbarians too clich? and copied? It’s time for him to meet his maker.

The Diablo 3 Barbarian stole the most from this guy (who is probably not too happy about it):

Yep. It’s God.

What I remember from the substance abuse and hard liquor days of high school philosophizing was that God is an angry killing machine out to destroy evil. He also does a lot of uncontrolled yelling, yet he is supposed to have a wise disciplinary side at the same time. That sounds like a pretty good description of the Barbarian if you ask me. It only makes sense for Blizzard to take ideas and characters from the most popular story ever. Be happy that he doesn’t make us stone anyone to death, and I’m not talking about high school here.

But that is not the extent of the Barbarian’s borrowed traits from extremely successful stories and characters (the most obvious lender being Conan the Barbarian). The big shoulder pads are almost from earlier Wrestle Mania days. The wrist claws in some of the artwork look similar to the Predator’s (another popular Arnold movie). The belt and ?pants?  looks kind of like He-man’s and the ram skull reminds me of Skeletor’s scepter. The chest scars are reminiscent of Rambo. If the female barb retains her red hair, then we have the Red Sonja connection (where Arnold showed up yet again) or the ?angry redhead? stereotype in general. Whirlwind is what the Tasmanian Devil does and the enlarged Hammer of the Ancients is something else you might see from early Warner Brother’s cartoons.

Speaking of cartoons, the scar over his eye belongs to a character named….Scar. It is Scar from Disney’s The Lion King. Was this not one of Disney’s most popular and successful flicks? But the scar is from other popular sources too. There is Hudson from the Gargoyles animated series who has the same scar over the same eye. In fact, that scar is everywhere:

And these are just the few pictures I found after a brief search. Couldn’t Blizzard put the scar somewhere else, like above or below the eye? I guess if Blizzard is going to steal God’s image they may as well throw the whole thou shalt not steal commandment out the window.

The Barbarian learned to steal from mainstream culture back in his horking days of Diablo 2. The blue warpaint is from the movie Braveheart which won Best Picture the year it came out. The winged helms in LoD remind me of Thor’s helm. And doesn’t the Barbarian hail from a cold, snowy (i. e. not sunny) region? The tanned look from Diablo 2 looks more Hollywoodized than Harogathian. Some of his armor looks like modern football equipment like the shoulder pads and the fury visors. Americans love their football; therefore, they will love the Barbarian. And I recall seeing the pigtail used often in other game worlds. In fact, if you chop off two arms of Mortal Combats Goro you will get the Diablo 2 Barbarian exactly. 


So the Barbarian emerges from a whole slew of popular characters that were around long before (or right before) Diablo 2 release. Some of these similarities are shrewd, some are unavoidable, but the Diablo 2 Barbarian really looks like he stepped out of a make up room or Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab. His parts were all sewn on from what was already out there doing well.

But where the Diablo 2 Barbarian is pure generic blandness the Diablo 3 Barbarian at last serves up a fresh new look. After all these years, we finally get a bit of original flavor to the Barbarian. A white braided beard, some male pattern baldness (as opposed to the macho shaved head) and yellowing teeth are not what you would see in a Hollywood hero. The tormented and traumatized facial expression is a vast improvement over the plain boring angry look of the Diablo 2 Barbarian. He really has come a long way. It is quite refreshing to see him with character that tells his story of the hardships that come with victory. You can really see that he has lost everything: his homeland, Mount Arreat, his people, and maybe even his sanity. Well, Mount Arreat was stolen from the Bible too, so maybe it’s not that bad of a loss. The newer Barbarian is probably one of the best changes made so far where the designers dared to stray off the beaten path of clich?s. Although there are some borrowed elements left in him, there was room made for originality. For once he is starting to look more like a Sanctuary Barbarian and less of an Americanized one.

Maybe his newer Americanism is in the form of a Native American elder, or simply an old teacher figure. That sure brings back memories of walking past Mrs. Conrad in high school with a lit joint cupped in my hand, trying to hold my breath and walk by fast but casual-like. If I could pull that off then maybe the Barbarian can be a slew of different things all at once. In conclusion, I suppose it is Ok for Blizzard to steal God’s image because fans who play the game have likely never heard of religion in real life save for a few references in Metallica songs. Plus, everyone knows Blizzard has a newer, much shinier god:


Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of

Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

Tagged As: | Categories: Barbarian, Diablo III Classes, Retired Columns


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