These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
It's also extremely popular with the European Far-Right for less wholesome reasons.
Gratuitous Special Effects: This movie makes heavy use of prosthetics, Green Screen and lots of CGI. The same battle was depicted in the movie The Three Hundred Spartans decades earlier with little more than fancy costumes and prop swords. The comic is comparatively more realistic with its visuals.
Ho Yay: This movie might have been called Ho Yay: The Motion Picture. If you know your way around Spartan culture, it's not hard to see why.
Moral Event Horizon: If Theron didn't cross it by using Persian money to bribe the ephors into warning Leonidas against going to war against Persia during an imminent religious holiday, he definitely did so by raping Gorgo and attempting to out her as an adulteress at the Senate meeting the next day.
Narm: We could also call this Narm: The Motion Picture, what with every single actor on a 100% scenery diet.
The Tree of the Dead, which goes on the same premise as the wall.
Older Than They Think: A number of lines from the movie are actually from Herodotus, including "fight in the shade" and "Tonight, we dine in Hades" (Hades was the underworld, or Hell, for Ancient Greeks). The Spartan epitaph planted by the side of the road is actually still visible as a marker from the Classical period:
Go tell the Spartans, passer by,
That here, by Spartan law, we lie.
Queen Gorgo also apparently said "Only Spartan women give birth to real men." Though this is believed to have been said to another Greek, not to a Persian Messenger.
Reality Is Unrealistic: While exagerated to the point of absurdity, a surprising amount has at least a seed of truth in it:
While their garb fell more towards Rainbow Pimp Gear and Bling of War than toward ninja-like garb, and the facemask they wore(which not all accounts mention) is described as more akin to a bandana or ski mask, the Immortalsnote The name is believed to be a mistranslation by Homer confusing the Persian name for the force, the Anûï¿½iya ('companions'), with Anauï¿½a ('Immortals') were in fact the backbone of the Persian infantry. According to several accounts, when one of this units 10,000 soldiers was injured, killed, or fell ill he was immediately replaced. It should be obvious why 10000 disciplined soldiers with deep reserves equipped with light armor and skilled in close combat specializing in mass formation assaults was one of the most feared military units in the ancient world.
While not used during the invasion of Greece, the Persian army did utilize elephants in combat, always accompanied by handlers from their region of origin experienced in training them. Alexander the Great's historians make many mentions of their use as mobile siege towers, and he considered the best method of handling them to be essentially the manner depicted in the film- exploiting elephant's tendency to panic in battle to scare them off cliffs or through the ranks of soldiers behind them.
At various times many historical armies also attempted to field other creatures, like rhinos, with about as much success as depicted in the film.
The "sorcerers" wielding grenades actually reflect a real weapon of war in use at the time. While true "greek fire" and explosives would not be introduced until the middle ages, accounts of clay "grenades" filled with burning substances like oil, tar, and sulfur date back as far as records of Assyrian sieges in the 9th century BC.
Ron the Death Eater: The movie Spartans get hit by this heavily, with the actions of the real Spartans used to attack them due to Values Dissonance (killing imperfect children is the work of a devil today, in ancient times it could have been the difference between food stores lasting the winter or running out partway through, among other things) and all of their actions painted in the worst light possible. They even get attacked for being all the same race, while these critics point out that the Persians are composed of many different peoples and nationalities. Apparently it's okay to slaughter innocent villagers and conquer other lands as long as you do it utilizing diversity.
In universe and from the other end, the Persians also get this for the inverse reasons.
Tearjerker: The ending. Each man knows that he faces death at the hands of Xerxes, but they absolutely refuse to give in or abandon their king.
It must be remembered that the Real Life Sparta was a thoroughly corrupt military oligarchy which practiced slavery and where most individual Spartans had absolutely no freedoms whatsoever, even before we get into the real problems. in Real Life Persian Empire was a multicultural quilt of nations which tolerated various religions, customs and languages... even though it was *also* an absolutist empire.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Complicated again, as the film was made during The War On Terror, which Frank Miller supports, but the original comic was written a decade earlier. This has lead to such a bad Misaimed Fandom that a March 2007 press conference saw director Zach Snyder asked by a reporter whether King Leonidas was meant to be George W Bush or Osama bin Laden. Original author Frank Miller claims that his comic to a large degree was inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, which is often considered to be a metaphor for the Cold War. Whether such a message was intended or not is far from clear.