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Subjective tropes for the film.
- Crowning Music of Awesome - The score is by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. Do the math.
- Complete Monster - By the end, there's little doubt that Commodus is one. Joaquin Phoenix, who played Commodus, did a superb job of transitioning from the traditional pompous son of the emperor into a genuinely frightening and insane villain.
- Draco in Leather Pants: For some strange reason, some fans ignore that Commodus is a parricidal, selfish, incestuous creep who likes rubbing into people's faces that he's had their wives raped and children crucified.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Since The 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.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Lucilla. The real life Lucilla was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Commodus and replace him with herself and her husband. She failed and was executed.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Commodus is not as bad in history as this movie would make you think. See below for the Hollywood History.
- Hollywood History: Marcus Aurelius was eager to have Commodus take over, Commodus was strangled in his bath after a 13-year rule, and power did not transfer to the Senate after his death. That, and Rome was not "founded as a republic." It was a kingdom originally.
- Lucilla was executed by Commodus (she tried to assassinate him) in 182 AD, predeceasing him by a full decade.
- It Was His Sled: Maximus dies.
- Memetic Mutation: "Are you not entertained?!"
- "AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!?"
- Moral Event Horizon:
- You think you've seen it all with the patricide, but Commodus only goes down from there.
- The audience is never 100% sure what the Praetorians did to Maximus' wife and son. When they come, they ride down the little boy with their horses. When Maximus finds his burned house, both wife and son have been crucified. Commodus later gloats: "Your son squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross, and your wife moaned like a whore when they ravaged her again and again".
- How about threatening to kill his own nephew unless his sister becomes his sex slave?
- Not to mention Commodus' final crossing of the Moral Event Horizon - when he gives Maximus a fatal wound before turning him loose.
- 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.
- Tear Jerker: "Now We Are Free".
- Win the Crowd: The Trope Namer, and the first battle likely did just that for the audience.
Subjective tropes for the novel.
- Fridge Brilliance: It's an Unbuilt Trope, sure, but after Superman enters the picture in 1938 Danner looks nothing but weak and cowardly in comparison. Clark Kent could use his powers only discreetly like Danner does, but instead he decides that the right thing to do is to devote his existence to helping those in need, regardless of what people thought, or even if the law stood in his way. THAT is heroic. Here's why the title is brilliant though. Clark Kent is a Superman because he fights for others, but just like the titular warriors of the more famous film, Hugo Danner is a Gladiator: he fights for survival. It just happens not to be physical survival.