12 Best Viking Movies
Jeff, TV analyst for WatchTVAbroad hails from Pennsylvania, United States and after growing up disinterested in sport found his sport calling in his late teenage years. Now he loves nothing more than streaming boxing, MMA and other combat sports.
Throughout history, our world has had many different types of warriors. There were Greek heroes, Roman legionnaires, medieval knights, modern-day soldiers, Japanese samurai and ninjas, Mongolian archers on horses, and many, many more.
But, it is hard to find a group of warriors that are more admired and respected than the Vikings.
So, naturally, their exploits, raids, adventures, and more, make for some excellent movie material.
In fact, the movie industry seemingly doubled down on the Vikings several times over the last 70 years, like on gangster movies, and other similar topics.
And, of course, if there is a good collection of films covering an interesting topic, you can be sure that I will explore it and come up with a list of the best ones.
With that said, I present you with the list of my top 12 Viking films, featuring some of the largest gems from this genre in the last 70 years.
My favorite is the third from last, do you agree?
The Vikings (1958)
The first on our list of the best Viking movies is The Vikings, a movie from 1958 by director Richard Fleischer which, as the name suggests, is all about the Vikings and their way of living.
Kirk Douglas plays the Viking prince Einar, while Tony Curtis plays Eric the Slave.
The two are locked in a feud that escalates after the Viking prince kidnaps princess Morgana (Janet Leigh). Morgana was previously engaged to another man, King Aella, but her only love is Eric.
The plot places her in the middle of three vengeful men, all seeking to claim her as their bride.
The Vikings was considered THE Viking movie before films like The Northman and Thor, but while it has fallen out of the spotlight, it is still an excellent film. It even has the legendary Viking king, Ragnar Lothbrok.
The Guardian praised it for its historical accuracy by saying that “One of the film’s big surprises is that it actually looks quite authentic. Production design gets points for the fact that neither horned helmets nor drinking out of skulls is in evidence.”
The film stars Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Frank Thring, and others.
Moving on, we have Thor, not the Icelandic strongman, but the first movie about the Norse God of Thunder in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thor has been a part of the Marvel comics for decades, borrowed from Norse mythology.
While the film is only partially of the Viking genre, it still shows a lot of scenery from the Viking culture.
The film’s plot is an epic tale that revolves around the jealousy of Thor’s adopted brother Loki. After he manipulates Thor into defying Odin, Thor gets banished to Earth, powerless.
Stricken by what he had to do, Odin collapses into his legendary Odinsleep, leaving the throne without the king.
Naturally, Loki steps in. Meanwhile, on Earth, Thor attempts to get used to living a life as a human.
However, when his friends come for him, Loki sends a powerful weapon to kill them all, which gives Thor a chance to show that he has learned his lesson, and regain his powers.
The first of the Thor movies, the film shows the story of two brothers at each other’s throats, with epic battle scenes, depicting some of the greatest Norse myths.
The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, and others.
Valhalla Rising (2009)
The third on the list of the best Viking movies is Valhalla Rising, by director Nicolas Winding Refn, featuring a heavily tattooed Mads Mikkelsen.
The plot of Valhalla Rising was set in the 11th-century Scandinavia, the height of the Viking age. Mikkelsen plays the role of a slave who only has one eye, known as “One Eye” as a result.
He becomes a leader of a revolt against the people who imprisoned him. As he fights for freedom, he teams up with Eirik, as well as some Christian religious fanatics.
Following their escape, One Eye goes to the Holy Land and Jerusalem with Eirik and his crew. As Valhalla Rising progresses, they suffer from infighting, starvation, and even attacks coming from the coast.
Valhalla Rising is brutal and bleak, but that actually works in its favor, showcasing the difficult life of Viking warriors, resulting in an epic story, overall.
The film stars Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Andrew Flanagan, Gary Lewis, Alexander Morton, and others.
How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
In the fourth spot on the list of the best Viking movies, we actually have an animated feature film and a massive box office success, How To Train Your Dragon (2010).
This is a film about Norse mythology that received several sequels due to its popularity.
How To Train Your Dragon depicts a Viking society that has something of a dragon problem, meaning that different species of dragons keep attacking their village and causing damage, stealing livestock, and alike.
The main character, Hiccup, is a young Viking boy who stands out from the rest by being a tiny, skinny kid, while everyone else is tall, strong, and massive in comparison.
However, while he may lack in terms of physical attributes, he makes up for it by being highly intelligent inventor.
This allows him to catch the most fearsome young dragon of all, and then befriend it, and even learn about other dragons from it, which eventually allows this young Viking to change his entire village’s relationship with dragons by teaching everyone, How To Train Your Dragon.
The film stars Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, and others.
The 13th Warrior (1999)
Another of the visually impressive Viking films is The 13th Warrior by director John McTiernan, starring Antonio Banderas.
The 13th Warrior chronicles a Muslim ambassador in exile who becomes a part of a Volga Vikings caravan.
Known as Ahmad ibn Fadlan, he is initially extremely confused and even offended by the behavior of his new friends, but soon enough, he gets used to them and even comes to admire their strength and high spirits.
However, when they all learn of an ancient evil that will threaten both of their ways of life, he learns to fight alongside the Vikings, even discovering that there is a warrior lurking inside of him, as well.
Washington Post described the 13th Warrior as a “crazed Iron Age battle rhapsody is so overripe that its flies probably have flies, but that’s not bad; it’s good. It’s why the film qualifies as the summer’s primo-guilty pleasure. It’s red meat for the soul.”
The film stars Antonio Banderas, Vladimir Kulich, Dennis Storhøi, Omar Sharif, Daniel Southern, Oliver Sveinall, and others.
Back in 2007, director Robert Zemeckis brought to the big screen one of the most exciting of Viking myths, the story of Beowulf. This epic poem has been coming in and out of pop culture, but this time, it’s here to stay, with a Viking storytelling of the poem of the same name.
The movie co-written by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman and a bit overloaded with star power centers on Beowulf, a courageous warrior who offers to help King Hrothgar rid his land of a dangerous demon known as Grendel.
Grendel himself proves to be no match for the Norse warrior, but his death puts his mother on the path of vengeance. More than that, she becomes a challenge even to the bravest heroes.
The film also steps away from Viking mythology a bit in order to let some of the Greek influence in, but if you don’t mind the mix, then this is an amazing film to watch.
The film stars Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Crispin Glover, Robin Wright, John Malkovich, Alison Lohman, and others.
The Northman (2022)
Moving on with the list of the best Viking movies, we have The Northman, which is the new go-to movie about the Viking era and Vikings, in general.
A big hit at the box office, likely due to the success of the TV show Vikings, which prepared the audience and taught new generations to love this setting, the film features a prosperous ruler, King Aurvandill, who just returned home from conquest in foreign lands.
His return is expected to be followed by the coronation of his son, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), but the king’s brother, Fjolnir, murders the ruler and absconds with his wife.
Essentially a retelling of Hamlet, but in a Viking setting, the film offers a bloody and savage story.
The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bjork, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and others.
The Long Ships (1964)
The eighth on our list of Viking movies is a film from the mid-60s called The Long Ships. It is a Viking epic that focuses on a highly-prized, legendary golden bell, known as the Mother of Voices.
The bell is sought by two powerful men, one of which is Rolfe, the leader of the Vikings, while the other is the Moorish ruler El Mansuh, sometimes also called the Moorish king Aly Mansuh.
Movie centers on Rolfe, who sails from Scandinavia with his Vikings, and leads them to Africa in search of the bell. He also takes El Mansuh with them, albeit reluctantly.
While the Vikings know that the bell might be pure fantasy, they still focus all of their energy to finding it, which leads them to a number of very interesting situations.
This treasure hunt may be one of the best movies about the Vikings purely because of the beautiful story, even though only half of it focuses on the Viking culture.
The film stars Sidney Poitier, Richard Widmark, Russ Tamblyn, Beba Lončar, Lionel Jeffries, Oskar Homolka, and others.
The Last King (2016)
Up next, we have The Last King, a fairly recent movie from 2016, which follows two Viking warriors tasked with protecting a child.
The child is no ordinary child, of course, but instead, it is the last heir to the throne, which is forced to flee with its two protectors in order to avoid gruesome death in a bloody civil war.
Interestingly, the film is based on real events from Norwegian Viking history, even though it is not very historically accurate.
But, if you are a fan of the genre and the Vikings, in general, then it is a perfect way to experience a real, historical tale, with some artistic freedoms that the film allowed itself to make.
The film stars Kristofer Hivju, Torkel Dommersnes Sodal, Jakob Oftebro, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and others.
Erik The Viking (1989)
To break the monotony of overly-serious Viking films, we have the comedic action adventure from Monty Python’s Terry Jones, who looked at Norse mythology and decided to present it through a bit more humorous lens.
This allowed Erik The Viking to take life, presenting us with the Viking Erik, who grew tired of pillaging villages. Instead, he decides to travel to Asgard, the city of gods and heroic warriors who died honorable deaths, to try to save it from the mythic wolf, destined to destroy it in the end-of-the-world event known as Ragnarok.
Of course, the British comedy leads Erik through all sorts of misadventures which definitely make this film worth watching.
The film stars Terry Jones, Tim Robbins, John Cleese, Mickey Rooney, Gary Cady, Neil Innes, and others.
Nearing the end of our list of epic Vikings movies, we have Outlander, a film that explores what would happen if Kainan, who comes from a different world, crash-landed in Norway during the era of the Vikings.
Unfortunately, Kainan did not come alone, as he also brought a dangerous predator known as the Moorwen.
The two are mortal enemies, and Kainan has to figure out how to defeat his foe in a brutish and primitive Iron Age.
The film is available on Pluto TV, if it sounds interesting enough.
The part that I liked the most is the inventiveness of the film that combined the modern technology that the outlander brought with him, with the primitive weaponry available to the Vikings.
The film stars Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, John Hurt, Ron Perlman, Jack Huston, Aidan Devine, Katie Bergin, and others.
The Last Viking (2016)
Finally, the last on our list is a short film from 2016 known as The Last Viking. It is a highly atmospheric film that stars Philip Stevens, who also directed the film.
Stevens plays Harald Hardrada, an 11th-century king who ruled in Norway, and whose exploits have been well-documented, and whose death is commonly taken as the end of the Viking age.
The film actually centers on Hardrada’s final moments before he died, gravely wounded.
Barely clinging to life, he still finds the strength to recount his story at a request of a mysterious one-eyed stranger, who is actually disguised Norse god, Odin.
As mentioned, the film is not very long, but it has a strange allure, maybe due to its intimate setting, mythology, or maybe because of the importance of this man whose death will signal the end of an era.
The film stars David Clayton and Philip Stevens.
Did you find your favorite on this list? If so let me know in the comments below or if I missed it, I’d love to hear too.