The Long Ships (1964)
The Viking: Rolfe (Richard Widmark), a Norse adventurer who falls foul of Sidney Poitier’s dastardly Moorish king.
The Awesome: Rolfe is a maverick, even by Viking standards. Peeved at the way Danish King Harold has treated his dad, Rolfe proceeds to steal his ship, kidnap his crew, and take his daughter hostage for good measure.
Then when Poitier gets on his bad side, he soon finds himself crushed by a giant golden bell. Not a man to trifle with then.
The Vikings (1978)
The Viking: One-eyed loon Einar (Kirk Douglas), heir to the Viking throne, and vengeful half-brother to former slave Erik (Tony Curtis).
The Awesome: Douglas has a ball, as historical accuracy goes out of the window in favour of Hollywood action and shamelessly hammy dialogue. Einar might be an eye down after an encounter with an angry hawk, but he’s plenty skilled in the art of mead-quaffing and axe-chucking.
He’s not averse to a bit of rape and pillage either, as Janet Leigh’s princess can attest. The cad.
The 13th Warrior (1999)
The Viking: Renowned warrior Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich), who teams up with Antonio Banderas’ Arab courtier to slay Viking-munching baddies, the Wendol.
The Awesome: A perma-grimacing bruiser, Buliwyf bravely sets out to stop a tribe of cannibals from helping themselves to his kinfolk. He soon manages to off the mad old witch who’s orchestrating the attacks, but not before getting spiked with a hefty dose of poison.
Realising a glorious death is in the post, Buliwyf happily gets stuck into the remaining Wendol, saving his people before promptly keeling over. What a guy.
Erik The Viking (1989)
The Viking: Erik (Tim Robbins), an uncharacteristically moral-minded Viking, who can’t quite square himself with the whole rape and pillage routine.
The Awesome: Not the most blood-and-thunder of Vikings maybe, but then it’s difficult to be too down on someone who thinks that rape is, you know, not very nice. Plus, whilst most Vikings have to settle for caving each other’s heads in, Erik’s quest leads him into loggerheads with the Gods themselves.
They don’t pay him much attention mind, but still, it’s better than an axe in the gut.
The Viking: Ghost (Karl Urban), a Viking boy left behind after an abortive raid on a Native American tribe.
The Awesome: Despite disappointing his old man by refusing to join in the murderous fun, Ghost grows up to be quite the warrior, particularly when his native people pitch up for round two with his adopted tribe.
Knocking a mob of Vikings off a cliff with his slingshot might sound a bit schoolboy, but he’s not above gouging out the odd eye either...
Saga Of The Viking Women And The Great Sea Serpent (1957)
The Viking: Desir (Abby Dalton), leader of a group of feisty lady-vikings, who set sail in search of their missing menfolk.
The Awesome: Awesome title for a start. Desir is pretty handy too, rescuing her estranged hubby from the primitive Barbarian-types who have enslaved him and his chums. Impressive stuff, although tellingly, it’s down to one of the chaps to slay the titular beastie on the journey home.
Women eh? Rubbish when it comes to sea-serpents.
The Viking Sagas (1995)
The Viking: Gunnar (Sven-Ole Thorsen), a grizzled old Viking exiled from his former land, and bearing one hell of a grudge as a result.
The Awesome: Just look at him! This is what a Viking should look like. Straggly hair, greying beard, stoic gaze set rigidly on the middle distance…he’s about to scream “FOR ODIN!!!” any minute!
Not sure the headband is quite so authentic but still, Gunnar manages to turn young buck Kjartan from mild-mannered softie into head-splitting berserker, so he’s alright by us.
The Viking: Wulfric (Jack Huston), a swaggering Viking champion sporting a decidedly un-Viking-like goatee.
The Awesome: Alright, so he might look better suited to a boyband than a horde of bloodthirsty marauders, but that’s not to say that Wulfric doesn’t know his way around a broadsword.
A smirking, mead-glugging, pretty-boy, he may be the most louche of the Vikings on this list, but he’s also the only one to get into a scrap with an alien. Beat that beardies!
Ring Of The Nibelungs (2004)
The Viking: Brunhild (Kristanna Loken), warrior Queen of Iceland. Don’t call her Babe.
The Awesome : She might be a gorgeous lady-type, but Brunhild is hard as nails, calling people out for duels left, right and centre. Which probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that she’s the daughter of slaughter-happy God, Odin.
Brilliantly, it’s not Siegfried, the film’s supposed hero, who disposes of arch-villain Hagen, but Brunhild, who not only lops off his head, but kills all his men too. Ouch.
The Norseman (1978)
The Viking: Thorvald (Lee Majors), son of the estranged King Eurich.
The Awesome: It’s the Six Million Dollar Man in a breastplate! Majors is a Viking prince who doesn’t take too kindly to his old man’s kidnap by some Native Americans. Make no mistake, Thorvald is a man’s man, and as he says himself: “The day that I turn my sails and hide from a new enemy, will be the day that I become like a woman in my homeland.”
Apologies ladies, not very progressive these Vikings…
How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
The Viking: Accident-prone mini-Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who turns out to be quite handy at dragon-slaying.
The Awesome: Initially a let-downto his man-mountain of a father (voiced, surprise surprise, by Gerrard Butler) Hiccup turns out to be very awesome indeed when he manages to off the giant dragon responsible for reducing his people’s longships to firewood.
Loses some points for thinking before he acts (we like our Vikings nice and reckless), but is capable of speaking to dragons, which on reflection, is really rather cool.
Valhalla Rising (2010)
The Viking: One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen), a mute, half-blind nutcase kept on a short leash by a Viking tribe. Until he escapes that is…
The Awesome: He’s a killing machine, plain and simple. His tribe use him as a worryingly effective human weapon, until he breaks free of his shackles and brutally kills them all.
Covered in strange tattoos and stripped of any Odin-bothering dialogue, Mikkelsen’s brooding loner is the Viking warrior reduced to its most base elements. Scary chap.