Gladiatorial Combat In Movies


Adversarial combat has been a staple of big budget films since directors first realised that extras with no lines were cheap. But films with epic battle scenes between humans, like the historically inaccurate Gladiator and Braveheart films, seem to have taken a backseat lately to more large scale superhero fight movies like the newly released ”Pacific Rim”, or Superman and Zod’s huge fight throughout Metropolis in ”Man of Steel”. But considering the massive amounts of releases which have come from Marvel and DC, it’s unsurprising that these superpower laden wars are here to stay.

Marvel are doing a particularly efficient job at churning out huge fight sequences. The new Hugh Jackman movie ”The Wolverine” looks like a concerted effort to cover up the embarrassing mess that was ”X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, and should contain some interesting sequences as our side-burned antihero fights in the streets of Japan, while struggling internally against his own immortality. 2014 will also see the release of ”X-Men: Days of Future Past”, another chance for Jackman to prove his worth in both fighting scenes and storyline, as well as bringing back the cast from the first two successful films in the franchise.

”300: Rise of an Empire”, which is due to be released next year will showcase some more of the muscle-bound artistic fighting as did the first film from 2007. Although Zack Snyder has been too busy working on ”Man of Steel” to take care of the prequel, it will be done with the same artistic comic book style that the first film did so well, but focussing on how Xerxes became the God King with help from Artmeisia I of Caria, one of the most bloodthirsty women in history. This kind of Greek battle mythology has inspired all kinds of combat games and is even evident in real-time strategy games like Sid Meier’s Civilisation. More recently we’ve been provided with the large-scale MMORPG DC Universe Online for our big battles – and there’s even a multitude of online games such as gladiator slot.

It’s difficult to talk about big fights without discussing Pacific Rim, being as it is one massively spectacular war. In a similar vein to the anime ”Neon Genesis Evangelion”, ”Pacific Rim” is about huge monsters called Kaijus which appear through a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and the man-made Jaegers, huge humanoid machines which were created to hold them at bay and prevent the destruction of mankind. Director Guillermo del Toro was inspired by Francisco Goya’s painting The Colossus for the tone of the movie, and the same sense of awe is evident. As much as we love the gladiatorial struggle of humanity, bravery and honour that are a staple of many action films, there’s nothing quite like watching giant robots fighting giant aliens – unless it’s ”Transformers 2”.