YMMV / Gladiator

The Film

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Before the Battle of Carthage fight, Proximo is seen complaining, to no avail, about how the gladiators are being set up - and expected to be - slaughtered by the mismatch. Is he trying to protect his investment? Or is he genuinely concerned about his gladiators? The all-out giggle he gives when Maximus and company end up winning adds to the question.
  • Awesome Music: The score is by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. Do the math. Of special note is the end credits song, "Now We Are Free."
  • Better on DVD: The DVD includes several deleted scenes that add to the story, such as a scene where we learn that Commodus is selling off Rome's grain stores to pay for the games, and another scene where Commodus has two innocent praetorians executed because Maximus is still alive (explaining why Quintus refused to give him a sword during the climactic battle).
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The battle in Germania includes a sound clip of 19th-century African war chants from the film Zulu as a Shout-Out. It can be jarring if you're familiar with the other film because of the huge anachronism and cultural difference.
  • Complete Monster: The power-hungry, violent, incestuous Emperor Commodus is the heir to the wise Emperor Marcus Aurelius, but when he learns that his father wants to make Rome a republic again and appoint the noble General Maximus as regent instead of him, he kills Aurelius, frames Maximus, and orders the death of Maximus (who escapes) as well as Maximus's wife and son (who don't). He casts himself as an unworthy son to a father with high demands, but his Patricide and subsequent megalomania show that his grievances with his father only reflect on his desire to become ultimate ruler, not to make his father proud. He becomes Emperor, and marginalizes the Senate's authority while keeping the populace in line with food and games. When Maximus reappears in Rome and the possibility of revolution looms he goes completely off the rails. He tries to have Maximus killed in the arena, but this fails. He then lures his enemy into a trap and unfolds the insurrection, killing most of Maximus's sympathizers and planning to execute the rest after publicly killing Maximus himself in a spectacular showdown, which he shifts in his favor by secretly wounding Maximus before the fight. His "love" for his sister Lucilla is later revealed to simply be lust, and when he learns that she is working with Maximus, the "merciful" Commodus demands that the horrified Lucilla provide him with an heir so his "blood pure" progeny can reign as tyrants for a thousand years to come. He threatens to kill his own nephew (Lucilla's son) if Lucilla doesn't consent to becoming his personal sex slave, or takes her life to defy him. Even the Praetorian Guard (his personal bodyguard, who are paid to protect him at all cost) are so disgusted by him by the end that they refuse to aid him when he loses his sword in the final fight.
  • Consolation Award: While Russell Crowe's Maximus is impressive, many thought he only won Best Actor to compensate his loss for The Insider the year before (and the compensation cycle made an even better Crowe performance that followed to lose to Denzel Washington in Training Day).
  • Draco in Leather Pants: For some strange reason, some fans ignore that Commodus is a patricidal, incestuous, selfish, creep who likes rubbing into people's faces that he's had their wives raped and children crucified.
  • Genius Bonus: A couple for history buffs.
    • Before the battle with the Germanic tribes at the beginning of the movie, Quintus' remark that "a people should know when they're conquered," is very ironic to anyone who knows that Rome never ultimately managed to completely conquer Germania.
    • When he first meets him in the arena (before realizing who he is), Commodus tells Maximus that his nephew "insists you are Hector reborn...or was it Hercules?" The real-life Commodus believed he was the reincarnation of Hercules.
    • The slave trader mentions he bought the Numidian from a salt mine in Carthage. According to (a much later) story, when Romans conquered Carthage, they plowed the earth and salted it so nothing would grow there.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Since Pirates of the Caribbean came out the epic soundtrack of Gladiator brings to mind the quirky antics of Jack Sparrow more than the epic deeds of Maximus. note 
    • Try hearing Maximus's line, "For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!" after watching the movie Elysium.
  • It Was His Sled: Maximus dies.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Commodus might be pitiable, for he had never got the love and acceptance from his family or people in general that all human beings want. Fortunately, the fact that he murders his own father and Maximus' family, repeatedly tries to kill Maximus himself, has incestuous feelings for his sister and ultimately blackmails said sister into being his own personal sex slave(using her son), makes him quite difficult to fully sympathize with.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Are you not entertained?!"
    • "AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!?"
    • "It vexes me. I'm terribly vexed."
  • Moral Event Horizon: Commodus crosses this either with the murder of his father, the Emperor, or with the the brutal murder, rape, crucifixion and other off-screen atrocities committed against Maximus' wife and small son, who is ridden down by horses. Commodus only goes downhill from there, first by threatening to kill his own nephew unless his sister becomes his sex slave, and finally by fatally stabbing Maximus before turning him loose in the arena.
  • Narm Charm: The first fight in the Colosseum - the reenactment of the Battle of Carthage - is intercut with shots of Commodus giggling and making silly faces. It's kind of hilarious.
    • Commodus yelling "AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!" is very over-the-top, but that doesn't make it any less terrifying.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Tigris. An elite-gladiator with a Cool Mask helmet who gives Maximus a tough fight before being defeated. He even survives, thanks to Maxie granting him mercy. He's easily one of the most memorable characters in the film, despite only showing up once.
    • This leads to BRIAN BLESSED as the coliseum spectator who shouts "Maximus the Merciful!"
  • Translation Convention: English for Latin, as it's expected for main characters. Yet in the battle scene with the Germanic barbarians, their leader howls in German something of cutting the Romans into dog food ("Hunde Futter"). Little is known of the Primitive Germanic language of 2nd century CE, but it definitely wouldn't sound like Modern German.
  • Win the Crowd: The Trope Namer, and the first battle likely did just that for the audience.

The Novel