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Film / King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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"You wanted the prophecy?! This is your prophecy: the man who pulled sword from stone! Behold! Your born king!"

A 2017 Guy Ritchie fantasy film starring Charlie Hunnam as the titular legendary British king, Jude Law as King Vortigern, Eric Bana as Uther Pendragon, and Katie McGrath as Elsa. This version portrays Arthur as a street urchin... until he finds Excalibur, and discovers his royal blood. Now, he must join forces with a resistance movement - including a young woman known only as "the Mage" - in order to dethrone the evil king Vortigern, who usurped the throne of Camelot.

Previews: Comic-Con trailer, "Kingdom" teaser, Trailer 1, Trailer 2.


King Arthur: Legend of the Sword contains examples of:

  • Action Dad: Uther, in the prologue.
  • Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time Aidan Gillen has played a man named Bill Wilson.
  • Advertised Extra: The humongous War Elephants that are featured heavily in the trailers only appear in the prologue and in a Bad Future vision the Lady of the Lake gives to Arthur, then play no further role in the story.
  • And Starring: "With Jude Law and Eric Bana."
  • Animalistic Abomination: The War Elephants, which are bigger than the castles they are attacking. Mordred summons them to fight for him. So does Vortigern in the Bad Future vision the Lady of the Lake gives to Arthur.
  • Animal Motifs: Vortigern's army has a thing for ravens, as shown by their Shoulders of Doom, while Vortigern himself adds a beetle design to his crown and armor.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • More like 500-Foot Whatever. The War Elephants are magical creatures so enormous they would give most Kaijus a run for their money. They carry building-sized siege structures on their backs, and the only way to stop them is killing their summoners.
    • The final battle involves a titanic snake sent by the Mage to lend a captured Arthur a hand against Vortigern's goons. It utterly curbstomps everyone in the room and then leaves again without having suffered a single visible injury.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The final scenes consist mainly of Arthur's gang knighting each other, naming Arthur himself King of England, and eventually, Arthur receiving the crown in front of his cheering populace.
  • Badass Beard:
    • Arthur wears a nice one. And of course no viking worth his salt would be complete without one.
    • It seems to run in the family in Arthur's case, as Uther Pendragon's beard is also quite impressive.
  • Badass Longcoat: Arthur wears a fur-lined tan number that looks surprisingly modern.
  • Bat Out of Hell: The Darklands are a saturnine world that harbors a lot of vicious oversized beasts, one of which is a species of bats the size of a small plane with a taste for humans and the strength to carry off a grown man with no effort whatsoever.
  • The Beastmaster: The Mage can take control of one type of animal at a time, resulting in her eyes taking the same shape as those she commands.
  • Big Bad: Vortigern.
  • Black Vikings: The film doesn't even attempt to be historically accurate so there are a few non-European characters around. Granted, Londinium appears to be a trade city, which historically did have diverse populations, so this could in fact be one of the few things in the film that actually is historically accurate (in Roman Britain, some black Africans did live there, and into the medieval era too).
    • Bedivere as played by Djimon Hounsou. Counts as a Race Lift, as "Bedwyr" appears in the oldest Celtic layers of the mythos. However, perhaps surprisingly, there is a black knight mentioned in a medieval Arthurian work (by a 13th century Dutch author who attached his work to those of Chrétien de Troyes): Sir Morien. So at least there is precedent, and possibly this was an inspiration. There was also pre-Islamic 'Saracen' (i.e. Kurdish) Knight Palamedes and his brothers/friends Safir and Segwarides.
    • To be fair, around the time Arthurian lore first evolved beyond its Mabinogion roots, i.e. when the Romans officially evacuated Britannia during the Anglo-Saxon and Jeute/Geat invasions, leaving a large population of citizenry and auxiliary forces behind, there already was a large population of non-Europeans withing the isles. Londinium, being the capital city, is one obvious example of a city with such demographics at the time, but the polity that would eventually evolve into York is an even more prevalent example, as it not only housed stranded auxiliaries (who in Britain were typically African, Indo-Persiac Dravidians, Bedouin and Canaanite Mesosemetics, Ural-Caucasians, and Sibero-Turkic Orianoasiatics, due to protocols the Romans had regarding auxiliaries serving near their homeland), like Londinium, but also a large merchant populace that included one of the oldest established Jewish communities in Britain.
    • This also discounts the hundreds, if not possible thousands of slaves who used the chaos to either revolt, purchase their freedom, or escape to the Christian and Druid Enclaves Ireland. Ireland itself was becoming a focal point of migration for Christian priests as monasteries were destroyed by Romans, barbarians or other empires, and said monks were known to come from as far as Samarkand. Finally, to the north in Ulster, the Orkneys and Scotland you would also have their occasional Greenlander-Inuit that would wash up on the shore (alive or dead) and be mistaken for a Selkie.
    • Kung Fu George, played by Tom Wu.
    • Wetstick, who appears to be mixed race.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Uther impaled himself on Excalibur by tossing it into the air and letting it rotate as it fell.
  • The Cameo:
    • Katie McGrath as Vortigern's doomed wife Elsa.
    • David Beckham as the heavily scarred sergeant (named Trigger) overseeing Arthur pull Excalibur out of the stone.
  • Canon Character All Along: Arthur's friend Wetstack turns out to be Sir Tristan.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Clingy MacGuffin: No matter what Arthur attempts to get rid of Excalibur, it'll end up back in his hands in no time. As the climax implies the spirit of Uther Pendragon lingered in the sword until Arthur finally mastered it, this becomes rather poetic.
  • Cool Sword: Excalibur, as per usual. In addition to its usual nature as an unbreakable glowing weapon, this depiction of the sword also grants its wielder magical power as well.
  • Composite Character:
    • Vortigern takes his name, headquarters, and political power from his traditional depiction, but in the original legend he was only responsible for the death of one of Arthur's uncles and was long dead by the time Arthur became king. The film's version of Vortigern combines him with the other kings and usurpers Arthur had to defeat to solidify control of his kingdom.
    • The Mage seems to be teetering on the edge of this and Decomposite Character. She has a similar backstory to Nimue as Merlin's acolyte who takes on her mentor's role as Arthur's magical ally, but due to the movie being about Arthur's rise to power, she becomes what would've usually been Merlin's role in such a story. She also displays hints of Morgana le Fay. The creators said she was originally going to be Guinevere, but with completely different characterization to what is in the final film.
  • Costume Porn: The royal court - especially the women - tend to wear gorgeous period finery while most soldiers sport kick-ass black armor. Vortigern pimps his with a floor-length white pelt cape.
  • Damsel in Distress: Every single woman except for the Mage. Until the final chapter where she also needs rescuing.
  • Death by Adaptation: Mordred is long dead by the time Arthur is grown.
  • Death Glare: Mordred apparently believes this to be an actual weapon. All he does when Uther breaches his various magical fire obstacles is glare at him from below. It works about as well as one might expect it to work when a pissed-off One-Man Army with a mythical sword is out for the glaring person's head. Of course, when one considers that Vortigern secretly aided Mordred's attacks, it's more than likely Mordred anticipated Vortigern finding another way to backstab his brother and chose simply to Face Death with Dignity.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The direct result of the above-mentioned Death Glare, although a family-friendly version appropriate to the movie's rating. It's just Mordred's shamanistic headdress that's presented, not his actual head, but the spirit of the trope is invoked regardless.
  • Demoted to Extra: Instead of being Arthur's mentor, Merlin is reduced to a single scene where he is seen forging Excalibur, and never interacts with Arthur.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Although not the victim of a serial killer per se, the sole woman to die on the heroes' sidenote  just happens to be a prostitute.
  • Double Weapon: Vortigern's One-Winged Angel form wields a double-bladed scythe.
  • Drunk with Power: Vortigern embraces how "intoxicating" being feared is.
  • Ear Ache: Vortigern cuts off one of Back Lack's ears before slitting his throat.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Vortigern rose to power by striking a deal with a trio of squid-like, female-ish creatures that dwell in the waters beneath Camelot. They demand a sacrifice of something deeply beloved from any supplicant in return for great magical power.
  • Eldritch Location: The Darklands, a Mordor-like region crawling with lethal oversized predators that can only be reached via a magical teleport of sorts. Arthur gets sent there in an effort to gain control over Excalibur and learn more about his past. Results are ambiguous.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Vortigern cries bitter tears when he sacrifices his wife and later his daughter to the eldritch creatures that dwell underneath Camelot. Too bad he didn't love them enough to put their wellbeing ahead of his lust for power.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Arthur has scars on his hands from grasping Excalibur's blade as a child.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Mordred and later Vortigern.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Mordred's and Vortigern's magical towers. It goes without saying that both go down in flames and debris the moment their creators bite the dust.
  • Evil Uncle: Vortigern seeks to kill his nephew Arthur and claim Excalibur.
  • Evil Wears Black: Well, there's gotta be a reason the Big Bad's goons are called Blacklegs.note 
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Everyone calls the mage "Mage". Nobody in the movie even bothers to ask for her actual name.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: Once again the Sword in the Stone is equated as Excalibur, though they are sometimes distinct in the source material. Similarly, the sword was forged by Merlin and given to Uther. After Arthur removes it from the stone, he flings it into the lake out of his Refusal of the Call mentality. The Lady of the Lake hands it back to him, echoing myth.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Arthur and the anti-Vortigern resistance can't stand each other when they meet. The mage in particular doesn't hesitate to put him in his place when he gets too mouthy for her tastes. By the time the credits roll, the new king and the last mage are best friends, and the surviving resistance leaders have been inducted into the famous Knights of the Round Table by Arthur himself.
  • Fisher King: England is shown to be struggling under the weight of Vortigern's greed and ambition while Arthur is unknowingly in exile. The Lady of the Lake implies that it will get even worse if Arthur does not ascend to his rightful position of king. At the end of the movie, as Arthur is presented to the kingdom as the new king, the coloring is brighter than it has been at any point of the movie since King Uther was featured in the opening credits. It is implied that the populace is much happier under Arthur's rule and that the future will be better.
  • Foregone Conclusion: With characters from the Arthurian cycle and Lohengrin, their final roles should be no surprise.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had a certain group of unruly vikings not beaten up the wrong prostitute, Vortigern's evil plan probably would've gone off without a hitch. Also doubles as a nice, convoluted example of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! because those vikings are in England on his personal invitation, their actions lead to Arthur entering the picture, and that in turn ultimately results in Vortigern's downfall.
  • Gilligan Cut: A texbook example halfway into the movie.
    Bedivere: He is not going to the Darklands!
    [Cut to him, Arthur and the Mage travelling in a rowboat]
    Bedivere: These are the Darklands.
  • Godiva Hair: The eldritch creatures' hair artfully clings to their breasts just enough so their nipples have a covering.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: Backlack catches his son Blue drawing a symbol of a sword in a stone. This graffiti indicates the local populace is unhappy with King Vortigern, supports the Resistance, and believes in the Born King. Naturally, such graffiti is harshly punished and runs the risk of the death of the perpetrator and entire villages and towns being burned to the ground to discourage such sentiment from spreading.
  • Hellbent For Leather: How Vortigern and his men dress.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Arthur's first round against Vortigern during their Final Battle doesn't go so well for him. Then Excalibur grants him a vision of his father that restores his resolve, he rises fresh as a daisy and thoroughly kicks Vortigern's shadowy ass.
  • Heroic Suicide: Uther throws Excalibur up and impales himself, turning to stone in the process, so Vortigern can't have the sword.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The portrayed ladies are shown in a very sympathetic light as the Parental Substitute for Arthur. It's what makes Vortigern's unceremonious murder of one of them early in the film such a kick in the teeth for Arthur and for the audience.
  • Horny Vikings: A warband of bearded, fur-clad, all-around manly Scandinavian vikings play a pivotal role in the story.
  • Human Sacrifice: Vortigern kills both his wife and daughter for power from the eldritch creatures, though he's very upset about it both times. It doesn't stop him though.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Several examples, actually.
    • Arthur's mother falls victim to a wicked-looking javelin hurled by One-Winged Angel!Vortigern that punches cleanly through her chest.
    • It turns out that Excalibur's famous stone is none other than King Uther's petrified body. When Vortigern had him at his mercy, he hurled the sword skywards and let himself get impaled by it in a last-ditch attempt at keeping the weapon out of his brother's hands.
    • In an application of Karmic Death, Vortigern himself meets his end on Excalibur's glowing blade, courtesy of the above-mentioned woman's son.
  • Important Haircut: In the montage of Arthur growing up, he's first shown getting his long prince-like hair cropped short. While it grows out in adulthood, it's never the same length as when he was a child.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Goosefat Bill is a master archer capable of dropping targets with pinpoint accuracy over a distance of 175+ yards. For comparison: modern-day Olympic archers with their fancy high-tech bows compete at half that distance, tops, which is close to these bows' maximum effective range already.
  • In the Hood: The Mage goes hooded most of the time when she's in urban territory. Merlin also wears intricate robes with a cowl that hides his face in shadows in the one scene he gets.
  • Keystone Army: Mordred's assault in the prologue is stopped dead in its tracks the moment he's killed by Uther.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: What Vortigern's covenant with the creatures below Camelot boils down to. First he sacrifices his wife in order to gain the power to usurp Uther's throne. Twenty-odd years later, he proceeds to kill his only daughter in a desperate attempt at gaining the means to defeat Arthur and Excalibur.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: A bunch of Blacklegs lay down their arms and surrender after one of Arthur's Excalibur-powered rampages curbstomped about 90% of their buddies on the battlefield.
  • La Résistance: Vortigern's rule is already opposed even before Arthur joins up.
  • Last of His Kind:
    • The Mage is implied to be one of the few mages that survived Vortigern's purge, if not the last.
    • Also, Arthur is the last member of the Pendragon line. Vortigern kills all of the others during the course of the film - his brother Uther, his sister-in-law Igraine, and even his own wife and daughter. Then Arthur kills him.
  • The Legend of X
  • Limit Break: Arthur's first real use of Excalibur in combat has this feel to it. Everytime he lets loose, an epic Curbstomp Battle ensues.
  • MacGuffin: Excalibur, naturally. The whole plot gets kicked off for real when someone suddenly manages to pull it out of the stone, and the following events continue to revolve around it. To a smaller extent, the magical towers built by Mordred and later Vortigern serve in a fairly crucial role as well - taking them down before they can be put to use by some evil mage ranks very high on their enemies' priority lists.
  • Magical Eye: The Mage's eyes can change accordingly with whatever animal she is controlling.
  • Magic Knight: When wielding Excalibur Arthur and his father before him when fighting Mordred and Vortigern become this, shattering enemies' swords and tossing them left and right with every swing while their eyes take on the same pale blue glow as Excalibur.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Uther sends Arthur off down the river in a boat while he fights Vortigern. He's found and then adopted by some kindly prostitutes when it drifts past Londinium. Unlike in most examples, here Arthur is not an infant but a young boy when this happens.
  • Mushroom Samba: The Mage has a venomous snake bite Arthur to prepare him for the coming showdown with Vortigern. It gives him some pretty disturbing visions and a drunken gait on his way to Camelot, but ends up saving his life when it dissuades another, truly ginormous snake from tearing him to pieces.
  • Mystical Waif: The mage.
  • Nature Spirit: While influenced by the snake's venom, Arthur can see dryads peering out of trees at him.
  • No Name Given: The mage.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Arthur initially couldn't care less about the resistance against Vortigern's regime. All he wants is being able to go about his business in peace, and eventually get some revenge for friends lost in the struggle.
  • Offing the Offspring: A desperate Vortigern sacrifices his only daughter in order to obtain the power needed to overcome Arthur and Excalibur. It doesn't work.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted by Jack's Eye, when trying to figure out what George, and later Mike, Arthur is referring to.
    "King George, Angry George, George of the Dragon? Be clear, Arthur."
    • And then:
    "Mike the Spike, Kosher Mike, which Mike?"
  • One-Winged Angel: Vortigern has one in the form of a hulking black knight with a skull-shaped helmet and a fiery cape with a double scythe for a weapon.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A few. Wetstack is actually Tristan. And Kung Fu George is called Kung Fu George in part to distinguish him from other Georges, and because he knows kung fu.
  • Overcrank: It's a Guy Ritchie film so what did you expect? In this film, however, it's usually to display how Excalibur grants Arthur with superhuman speed.
  • Playing with Fire: Vortigern can manipulate fireballs. Before him, Mordred could incinerate whole platoons of soldiers at once with magical fire shockwaves.
  • Precision F-Strike: Vortigern delivers one to Mercia:
    "Just do your fucking job!"
  • Public Execution: Vortigern attempts one of these to set an example of what happens to anyone who challenges the crown, but it backfires when La Résistance uses magic to help Arthur escape, further cultivating the rumors that Arthur is the rightful king and that he has mystical protection that will help him regain his rightful place on the throne.
  • The Purge: After Mordred's magical rampage in the prologue, Vortigern had all mages hunted down in a purge that was quickly halted again by his brother Uther. Once Uther was out of the way, he got right back to it and apparently was so successful that the Mage is now the Last of Her Kind. All of it was part of Vortigern's plan - he was in cahoots with Mordred from the beginning, and the mage purge was most likely an effort to stamp out any opposition to his own growing magical powers.
  • Putting on the Reich: a lesser example than most—while Vortigern's troops don't wear Nazi-like uniforms, they do have a similar color scheme to the typical image of the Gestapo and, during his attempted execution of Arthur, they all chant his name and the assembled crowd is forced to follow along all while making a salute resembling that of the Nazis'—they may as well have been saying "Heil Vortigern!" In the same scene, Vortigern himself also makes such a salute, stretching his hand out to the entire crowd.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: This version of the Knights of the Round Table including their eventual king consists of former street gang criminals and resistance fighters.
  • Rags to Royalty: Arthur's initially a gang leader in the slums of fantasy ancient London, but is destined to reclaim his birthright as King.
  • Rated M for Manly: The mage is the only woman in the entire movie that has anything resembling an action role. All the other heroes are gritty, muscular, fearless brawlers with many a Walking Shirtless Scene who don't take shit from anyone. Arthur in particular is a textbook case of Testosterone Poisoning even before Excalibur turns him into a One-Man Army.
  • Real Is Brown: The entire movie features a highly desaturated color scheme that makes almost everything look blue-grey or black.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • Here Vortigern is Arthur's Evil Uncle.
    • Inverted with Mordred, who is Arthur's nephew, sometimes bastard son, in the myths.
  • Reluctant Hero: Arthur really doesn't want to be England's salvation from Vortigern. It takes more or less the entire movie for him to accept his role.
  • Revenge Before Reason: When the gang's long-range assassination attempt of Vortigern is busted, Goosefat ignores Arthur's order to call it off and instead starts sniping Blacklegs he has a personal beef with. It triggers a wild chase through Londinium's streets and, ultimately, causes the deaths of several protagonists.
  • Rightful King Returns: Vortigern has explicitly become The Usurper by killing Arthur's father Uther (Eric Bana) and taking the crown himself, and as per usual, Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone proves he's the rightful king.
  • Run or Die: More than a few epic running sequences occur involving Arthur and his group fleeing to evade pursuing Blackleg soldiers.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Lucy, Arthur's favorite hooker friend, is unceremoniously killed by Vortigern's enforcer to properly motivate our hero into doing what the bad guy wants. Essentially an instance of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! as it ends up being one of the things that motivate Arthur to join the rebellion instead because now It's Personal.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Goosefat disses Arthur's gang friends this way when he shows off his archery skills on the target they're carrying between them. Hundreds of yards away.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Arthur had no intention of seeking out the Excalibur or seeking out his rightful throne. If Vortigern hadn't gone to such lengths to avoid the born king's prophesied return, Arthur would've never been anywhere near the sword. Additionally, Arthur repeatedly says he doesn't want to be king or involved in fighting Vortigern. However, Vortigern, not content to have a potential threat living as a commoner in the populace, is determined to completely eliminate Arthur, and begins by engaging in a systematic campaign to kill Arthur's adopted family, childhood friends, and new found allies. You know, the people whose deaths would make the previously uninterested rightful heir suddenly be willing to fight to the death.
    • In their first encounter since Uther's murder:
    Vortigern: You and I have a lot more in common than you think. It's not just the same blood we share, but also the same interests. We both developed a palate for power.
    Arthur: I've never had any power. Or any desire to achieve it. Sire, I could simply drift away never to be seen again.
    Vortigern: As much as I would like to believe you, your character makes that unlikely.
    • Later in the conversation:
    Vortigern: What kind of man would you have become if had you inherited your father's kingdom and all its advantages instead of being raised in a brothel? What gave you such drive? Hmm.
    Arthur: So what happens now?
    Vortigern: You know what happens now. You're quickly becoming a legend.
    • In their last encounter, in the final battle:
    Arthur: You wanted to know what gave me such drive. It was you. You put me in that brothel. You cut me on the streets. I am here now because of you. You created me. And for that, I bless you.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Narrowly averted. Mischief John, one of Vortigern's lieutenants, is stuck with giving Arthur and his group a message after Vortigern had taken the Mage and Blue prisoner. He is more concerned about his wife getting to him, because it was his turn to cook that particular evening. Arthur and the others let him go, but the glares they give Mischief John makes it clear they really want to kill him.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sinister Scythe: Vortigern's One-Winged Angel form wields one with blades on both ends.
  • Slave Mooks: The Blacklegs, whom Vertigern apparently gets from boys with no attachments, like orphans.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Merlin only shows up for about two seconds and is effectively replaced by the Mage for his role in the story. However, his influence on the overall plot is felt when it's revealed he was the one who forged Excalibur and trained the Mage in the mystic arts.
  • Square-Cube Law: Played straight and thrown out of the window at the same time. Monsters like the Kaiju-sized war elephants should never be able to exist, let alone move in Earth's gravity, although that one's justified because they're explicitly magical creatures. The part the film's creators got right (kinda) is the way the elephants move. Those things look really, really slow and ponderous, but that impression is deceptive thanks to their sheer enormity. They don't even need to charge Camelot's fortifications - all they need to do is walk through them since no stone wall, no matter how thick, can hope to withstand the impact of such an insane mass and the force it applies.
  • Son of a Whore: Arthur describes himself as one to Vortigern during their conversation, since he was raised in a brothel.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Vortigern becomes this after seizing power due to a pact with some eldritch creatures.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Elephant trumpeting from opening scene is the same sound as Tyrannosaurus roar in Carnivores video game.
  • Street Urchin: Arthur's backstory in the film.
  • Sword Drag: How Arthur goes into the Final Battle once he has Excalibur back - lots of sparks included.
  • Taken for Granite: It's revealed King Uther Pendragon is the stone in which Excalibur was stuck in. As he's cornered by Vortigern, Uther throws the sword over him and it runs through him, turning him into a rock.
  • Time-Delayed Death: During the resistance's attempt on Vortigern's life, Goosefat's first arrow ends up embedded in the wooden wall behind his target, so everyone assumes he missed. Then the guy drops dead and reveals that the arrow actually punched right through him.
  • Torture Always Works: Rubio is taken captive after he is separated from Arthur's group and ends up betraying the resistance after being tortured. Vortigern also threatens to torture Back Lack, and his son reveals their allegiance with the rebels to try to save his father.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: It's made clear in one trailer that Poppy Delevingne's character dies early on. As both she and Katie McGrath are credited as 'Elsa', it's only logical that a reincarnated or impersonator version of this character turns up later.
  • "Uh-Oh" Eyes: Whenever someone's eyes change their color or texture, you know shit's about to get real.
  • Undying Loyalty: Arthur's gang, who refuse to abandon their boss even when he is ordering them to during a raid.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: The movie leans on this trope for practically half its runtime, jumping back and forth in the story as characters explain plans while we see those same plans carried out.
  • Unkempt Beauty: The Mage.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Averted. Though the prostitutes have some protection with Arthur and his gang, they still appear to get beaten up by unruly clients fairly often. Arthur and the others then beat up these men in retaliation.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Charlie Hunnam has an awesomely sculpted physique, and the movie makes sure everybody notices it. Further examples abound at Londinium's fight club.
  • War Elephants: Big honkin' ones are featured in the film's opening battle sequence and in a Bad Future vision the Lady of the Lake gives to Arthur. Mordred summoned them using Black Magic.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: The Mage, (played by Spanish-French Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) has a bizarre accent that sounds vaguely British and vaguely Eastern European, and it isn't helped at all by the fact that she whispers most of her lines.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Invoked by Arthur moments before his upcoming Mushroom Samba. The mage agrees by claiming that nobody likes snakes - a strange sentiment, considering the fondness she herself appears to have for them. Perhaps she just considers them a useful tool though.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: If Vortigern had simply killed Arthur in his prison cell, he would have been able to claim Excalibur and rule with unchallenged authority. Instead, he has to make a huge public spectacle out of Arthur's execution, giving the resistance an opening to rescue him. Justified, since rumors of the true-born king's return are inspiring hope in the populace, and Vortigern wants to stamp them out thoroughly; if the common people don't see the heir's death, they won't believe it's happened. When he has Arthur in his captivity again near the end of the film, he does try to kill him immediately.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Arthur's favorite hooker friend Lucy gets beaten to a pulp by a group of Scandinavian vikings. The revenge he exacts on them is what ends up putting him on Vortigern's radar.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Vortigern threatens to take it out on Blue if Arthur doesn't surrender himself to him, and there's no indication at all that he wouldn't go through with it.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Vortigern is warned by the creatures that Excalibur appearing heralds the rightful king's return and his downfall. Naturally, his attempts to antagonize and destroy his nephew at every turn only seal his fate.


Example of: