"Tonight we've got Hayfield. Like all the other schools in this conference, they're all white. They don't have to worry about race. We do. let me tell you somthing: you don't let anyone come between us. Nothing tears us apart. In Greek mythology, the Titans were greater even than the gods. They ruled their universe with absolute power. Well that football field out there, that's our universe. Let's rule it like titans."
— Coach Herman Boone
A 2000 film Based on a True Story about a Northern Virginia school that experiences an enforced racial integration in 1971, merging the black students with a white school and neither side being particularly happy about the arrangement. Both schools had a proud football team and now they are forced to come together and play as one team. In an effort to placate critics, they hire a new coach, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), to replace the beloved coach of the white team, Bill Yoast (Will Patton). Boone disliked being hired over Yoast (having experienced some of the same racial politics in the past), but pleads with him to stay on as the defensive coach despite being qualified to take on head coach at nearly any school of his choosing.Boone and Yoast lead the new team to training camp not far from Gettysburg and Boone enforces an integration policy that all of his players must abide by, the team will not separate into black and white "cliques." The various team members are fleshed out, with one of the strongest friendships form between the team captain Gerry and Julius, one of the leaders of the black side. The team eventually sees past color but once the season starts they find things to not be as easy outside the game. Despite this, they earn respect on the field and that unifies the town better than anything else.Despite the title and the film being about football, it has nothing to do with the Tennessee-based NFL team. Or Titans of the man-eating variety.
This movie provides examples of:
Ambiguously Gay: Sunshine gets a lot of accusations because of his hair and being from California. He then goes on to Troll his teammates by kissing Bertier and refusing to give Petey a straight answer when he asks.
Cheaters Never Prosper: During one of the games, the cheaters aren't either team, but the referees: the game was rigged by an old boys' club, who were trying to make the Titans lose, which would result (persuant to his contract) in Boone being fired and Yoast getting his head coach position back. This was arranged entirely without Yoast's involvement or acceptance, and about halfway through the game, Yoast talks to the head referee and demands that he call the game fairly, or the papers will know all about the arrangement before the night is out. The Titans end up winning.
Chekhov's Skill: Minor instance - At one point, Sunshine is seen practicing Tai Chi outside school. In the next game they play, he uses the inertia of an incoming tackle to knock the opposing player on his back.
Composite Character: Sheryl Yoast, Coach Yoast's daughter. The real Sheryl was one of four daughters Coach Yoast had, but they were okay with it. Tragically, the real Sheryl Yoast passed away just before the movie's release.
David Versus Goliath: Averted. The T.C. Williams Titans, were, on paper, supposed to be the best high school team in Virginia. They were essentially an already very strong team that was adding dozens of African-American players, which very few other Virginia teams had at the time. Their struggles came not from their abilities or lack of talent, but from the racial tension faced from both outside and within. They ended up overcoming that tension and living up to their potential as one of the top high school football teams in the nation.
Also within Disney itself. With the box office success of Titans, it signaled the end of Disney's goofy kid-centric sports films like The Mighty Ducks series and ushered in a wave of serious sports biopics from the studio specifically aimed at older audiences, such as Miracle, Invincible, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and the aforementioned Glory Road.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gerry and Julius friendship becomes their most important relationship in the film. Gerry, for instance, clashes with his own mother over it.
Graceful Loser: The coach of the Titans' opponent in the state finals.
Military Brat: Louie Lastik and Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass. Ronnie's father, for instance, wants his son to play for the titans because "if they can fight a war together, they can play football together."
Miracle Rally: A case of Playing with a Trope. The Team starts to fall apart during a game due to racial tension but they still win without one these, but several players recognize that they need to come together for the next one or they will lose for sure. So they stage one of these between games.
Mood Whiplash: A victory celebration suddenly and abruptly leads to Gerry's car wreck and crippling.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Yoast stopping the rigging of the semifinals results in him being banned from the Hall of Fame and being declared a "race traitor" by his former peers.
Nothing But Hits: Late 60s/early 70s classic rock and done well. When things look bad for the Titans, the film's original score (by ex-Yes member Trevor Rabin) is used. When things begin to go their way, classic rock begins playing.
Only Sane Man: Louis starts out this way despite his "dumb jock" persona, as initially he's the only guy who just wants to play football and doesn't care what his teammates' look like.
Opposing Sports Team: Played With: The Titans' semi-finals game puts them against an openly racist coach and biased referees. The opposing team in their final game, on the other hand, show no racial prejudices and are just very good. The coach even comes out on the field after they lose to shake Boone's hand.
Sadly Mythtaken: The speech in the page quote, where Boone tries to inspire the players to follow the example of their mythical namesakes, who were "greater even than the Gods". He's apparently unaware that, in Greek Mythology, the Titans were actually the predecessors of the Gods who were eventually overthrown by them, and the leader of the Titans, Kronos, was a murderous ragehead who was killed by his son after he tried to cannibalize his own children. He's not the best role model for a team captain. Although the part about that the greek Titans being overthrown because of a betrayal, like both Petey and (nearly) Boone, is a Genius Bonus.
Starts with Their Funeral: The film opens and closes with the rest of the characters attending Gerry's funeral, although we don't find out whose funeral it is until the end of the film.
Stereotype Flip: When the police officer pulls up next to Julius walking through a white neighborhood only to congratulate him on a well-played game and wish him luck. It's not what you'd expect from a Virginia police officer in the early 70's.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sheryl Yoast and Coach Boone's daughter Nicky (her response to Sheryl's offer to play ball with her: "I just did my nails"). While they don't became best friends, they do get along better.
Training from Hell: Boone's football camp was rough, but it was less the physical stress than the racial integration he forced everyone to be involved with. However, this is not to say that the physical part was a cakewalk.
Coach Boone: We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts... and then you will run a mile. Perfection. Let's go to work.
Who's Your Daddy?: Coach Boone towards Gerry, in order to make clear to Gerry who is in charge after Gerry tries to dictate to him how the team should be organized. What's worse, he makes Gerry say that Coach Boone is his daddy, in front of his own parents. Then again he did bring it on himself.
Women Are Wiser: Played with. There are mothers who clearly against racial integration, women are among the people who make nasty comments about Coach Boone when he first moves into the neighborhood, and Gary's girlfriend Emma is racist (at least until her Heel-Face Turn late in the movie). On the other hand, though, the white girls at T.C. Williams seem much more accepting of black people than their male counterparts: a group of three white students fawning over Sunshine talk to Petey without a problem and even try to keep their boyfriends from beating him up (albeit unsuccessfully), and the integrated cheerleading squad seems to lack the problems the football team has. Teen Girls are Wiser, perhaps?