Everyone loves Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe), especially "bros". They love him because everyone in the movie loves him, and never does ole Ridley Scott allow us to think he is anything less than perfect. I mean, his child got murdered by a galloping horse! But Maximus is a flat character, don’t you know. He is defined by about three things: a desire for revenge, a desire to kill bad guys, and dreams of a wheat field. This makes him boring.
So if we are so easily enthralled by characters from Gladiator, why don’t we finally start talking about the true hero of the film?
The German guy.
We could easily look up his name, but we are choosing not to do so, because we are nearly certain his name is never given in the movie. But you remember him, right? He’s the big bodybuilder man, the guy from Beerfest. He’s the guy who initially trains Maximus by repeatedly clubbing him with a wooden sword. He’s hilarious!
While we know little about Maximus, we know absolutely nothing about this guy. He has no backstory, no desires (apart from killing bad guys), and no personality. Well, maybe a little personality, cause who can forget the classic scene where he acts like he is choking on the nasty porridge served to the slaves? It’s a joke so funny that even Maximus laughs!
This German guy is alpha-bro numero uno when Maximus arrives on the scene. But after about three minutes, Maximus is alpha-bro numero uno. In a fist fight, the German guy would win. But Maximus is the best, so the German guy relinquishes his throne without any resistance. Therefore, he is cool.
Then we get into the battle scenes. The gladiators walk through a tunnel of dangling meat for some reason, and this big German guy walks behind Maximus and keeps putting his hand on his shoulder and telling him stuff.
He likes Maximus, so we like him.
In battle, the German guy massacres people. In one scene, he takes an arrow to the calf. This was a wise decision on Ridley Scott’s part, for it allows us to witness just how jacked is his leg. More than likely, this man can squat over four hundred pounds. While the German guy is suffering great pain, Maximus "the merciful" saves his ass from getting split in half like that one lady. Later, the German guy gets about twenty arrows shot into his torso, followed by spears to the gut and back. Then, he dies. We aren’t very sad, because Maximus isn’t. And maybe in death, he has also found a wheat field.
Let’s not forget the battle, though, where the gladiators are chained to one another. Maximus is chained to his African sidekick, Djimon Hounsou, and they kick some major butt. This butt-whooping including clothes-lining a guy. They are of one mind. The German guy, however, gets paired with some nobody, some guy who doesn’t even have a line in the movie. This guy dies really quickly. So the German guy is chained to a dead guy. His response? He raises his sword, roars to the Roman sky, and chops off the man’s arm. Now, he’s chained to a severed human arm. And he’s free to run train on these assholes. He starts swinging his chain around like a bull whip. Each time we see him, he’s beating the shit out of someone else with this chain. It’s an incredible utilization of resources, even in the most dire of circumstances.
And so, in the end, this character, who is basically not a character, is the best character of this movie. Sure, we can enjoy Maximus, but isn't his type of heriosm so predictable? Who could have expected this German man would chop off another man's arm to increase his chances of survival? His strength grants heart and soul to this film. We are still not sure why he is in it at all, but we are very happy he is.