Recent Netflix Hit Could Mean It’s Time To Revisit A Genre That Died 10 Years Ago



  • Despite its initial lack of success, the recent popularity of “The Eagle” on Netflix suggests a potential resurgence in sword and sandal movies.
  • The success of “The Eagle” on Netflix indicates that audiences may be ready for the return of Roman and Spartan films.
  • The upcoming sequel to “Gladiator” has the potential to fully revive interest in Roman and Spartan movies and rejuvenate the genre as a whole with improved special effects and fresh perspectives.



Despite being released in 2011, The Eagle has found some newfound and unexpected success after being added to Netflix’s roster, leading many to wonder if there could be a resurgence in a long-dead movie genre. The Eagle is a historical epic movie that stars Channing Tatum as Marcus Flavius Aquila, the son of a legendary warrior, who goes on a mission to find his father and the Roman’s Ninth Legion 20 years after they disappeared. The Eagle didn’t see much success upon its original release in 2011, earning only $38 million against its $25 million budget, and receiving a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite the poor reception of The Eagle, it is significant because it was one of the last movies to be part of a genre that boomed during the 2000s: sword and sandal films. The sword and sandal genre is a subsection of epic films that depict ancient times including the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the Spartans. Medieval movies can also sometimes be lumped into the genre. Either way, sword and sandal movies have been around since cinema first began, however, the genre has seen varying success over the years. Although movies like The Eagle soared in the early 2000s, by the 2010s, the genre lost much of its audience.

Related: The True Story Of The Eagle’s Ninth Legion & How Much Of The Movie Is Real

The Eagle’s Popularity Could Be Great For Roman & Spartan Movies

the eagle

Although movies about the Romans and Spartans haven’t been popular for over a decade, The Eagle’s sudden success on Netflix is a cue that the genre could be making a comeback. As previously mentioned, The Eagle did rather poorly at the box office and with critics in 2011, however, its recent release on Netflix has been generally successful. In fact, the film has earned a place on Netflix’s Top 10 movie chart since it was added to the streaming service. All in all, this disparity between audience reactions in 2011 versus 2023 says a lot about the state of the sword and sandal genre.

If The Eagle is gaining a new audience 12 years after its release, that could be a sign that audiences are ready for the return of sword and sandal movies. In fact, The Eagle has all the trappings of a classic sword and sandal film, as it takes place during the days of the Roman Empire and stars a rather brawny, attractive male actor as a warrior of some kind. There are also themes such as family and friendship that are hallmarks of the genre. All in all, if audiences are enjoying The Eagle, it seems likely that they would be receptive to new films in the genre.


Since the early 1900s, Roman and Spartan movies have had various surges, however, the most recent rise in sword and sandal movies in the 21st century occurred during the 2000s. From 2000 to around 2010, movies about ancient times were made constantly, and audiences loved them. Some key examples include Gladiator, 300, Troy, and The Scorpion King. These films were as major to the 2000s as superhero films were to the 2010s. They were the blockbusters of the time, and turned regular actors into stars. Two significant points that explain the popularity of sword and sandal films during the 2000s was a change in what these movies looked like and technological advancements.

During the 2000s, sword and sandal movies saw big changes. Namely, the genre focused heavily on violence and hardship. Grittier perspectives such as loss, slavery, and war captured audiences much more than the romantic themes expected of the genre. Additionally, special effects were much improved from the films of the 1950s. This meant that the action sequences, and even the movie as a whole, was much more visually impressive. However, the sword and sandal films of the 2000s eventually died out. Mostly, this was due to a serious decline in quality, especially compared to the epics that jump started the genre’s resurgence.

Gladiator 2 Could Fully Revive Interest In Roman & Spartan Movies

Spencer Treat Clark as Lucius Verus II in Gladiator

Over 20 years later, a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is being made, and this could do what The Eagle did on an even larger scale. Despite the declining interest in sword and sandal films, the Gladiator 2 movie is expected to do incredibly well considering the first film’s success and the star-studded cast attached to the project. Gladiator 2 could not only spark interest in Roman and Spartan movies, but could revive the genre altogether, just as its predecessor did in 2000. With even better special effects and radically different viewpoints from the early 2000s, sword and sandal films could be entirely different, and potentially even better, in 2023.