Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Things Only Adults Notice In The Scorpion King

Allow us to transport you to a time before pocket-sized entertainment-rage devices existed. Kanye has never discussed running for president, Tom Cruise hasn't considered space travel, and all that glitters is gold when it comes to our action heroes. From the cesspool of mediocrity rises a champion of clout, a mountain of muscle, and a titan of industry. We are, of course, talking about the rise of one Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Although many would argue that his meteoric rise began long before the early 2000s, the vehicle which transported him out of the ring and into the hearts of fans across the world was the 2002 film The Scorpion King.

The enormously successful Mummy franchise released The Mummy Returns in 2001, boasting a surprise appearance from a CGI Dwayne Johnson head, perched atop a giant scorpion. This quirky cameo created so much buzz that Hollywood execs recognized the opportunity and ordered a spinoff. A year later, The Scorpion King hit theaters. The Rock, who plays Mathayus, who will one day become The Mummy Returns' CGI beast, helped carry the film to a hearty bounty of $178 million worldwide. The action flick is a fun-filled romp through ancient lands featuring beautiful stars and fanciful battle sequences. While younger viewers, much of the movie's target demographic, might not question the film's events, there are a slew of things that only adults will notice while watching The Scorpion King. We're here to take a look at them.

Mathayus' camel is always within whistling distance

Traversing the deserts of Egypt is no trivial affair, and choosing your travel companion is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. Most of Mathayus' companions opt for the machismo of horseback, but our titular character is much more fond of his trusty camel. He claims this particular mount is smarter than its equine counterpart, and he may be on to something, because the camel's location is always remarkably convenient.

Even over the roar of battle, Mathayus' whistle sails across the winds to his camel's ears. By the third time we witness this beckoning, we start to question the validity of the logistics involved here. Camels might have good hearing, and sure, maybe Mathayus is on to something when he claims they're smarter than horses. But even with those things taken into account, the film stretches credulity to its limits. No matter how much ground Mathayus covers, his camel is always miraculously nearby for a quick escape. Towards the end of the film, it becomes harder to chalk it up to a smart travel companion instead of lazy script writing. No doubt while churning out the screenplay for The Scorpion King at blazing speed, writers were faced with the question of how Mathayus was going to escape various tight spots, and kept circling back around to his omnipresent camel.

The movie is drenched in machismo

Machismo is a major part of the action genre, but The Scorpion King takes it to an extreme. Take Cassandra's introduction. Not only is she scantily clad, she goes weak in the knees upon seeing Mathayus. She is at Memnon's side for all his conquests, guiding him through battle ... but the sight of this man makes her yearn for a realignment of her virtues. Listen, it's the Rock, we get it. But let's ease up on the longing eye contact. And we really aren't sure why Cassandra needs to straddle Mathayus in order to heal him.

Once Mathayus stumbles into Memnon's harem and is swarmed by an army of thirsty concubines, our eyes start to roll into the backs of our skulls. Adolescents might be entranced, but adults may begin to wonder why every woman in ancient Egypt looks like an LA model. A lack of hydration in an impoverished desert environment does wonders for your figure, apparently.

This overbearing machismo is also evident in some of the film's most ludicrous action scenes. Somehow, Mathayus transforms into a ninja in a random cave and systematically picks off a group of soldiers. Each soldier succumbs to his might via throat slits or giant stone spikes to the chest. This is ridiculous, but at least it isn't skeevy: It's a fun time that declares the Rock is all that is man — no weird R-rated "healing" required.

Cassandra isn't a very good oracle

To witness what the future holds would be a magnificent weapon for a military leader to possess. That's the logic behind Memnon's domination of his adversaries: Cassandra, a powerful sorceress, is able to predict his battles' outcomes. As such, Memnon keeps her by his side throughout his conquests. She does appear to actually have said powers, and we do indeed see them put on display. As far as utilizing those powers goes, though, she appears quite inept.

Any time Memnon calls on her to inform him of what the future holds, she stumbles through her mental pathways to arrive at a monosyllabic response: It's either good or bad. No more detail than that, folks. How magical! The sorceress also doesn't appear to be able to properly read her visions, rendering some of her predictions, like the one regarding Mathayus' demise, outright wrong. An arrow in his back does nothing to slow his pursuit of vengeance: Witness the glory as he rips the projectile from his bulging muscles and uses it to launch his nemesis into a giant ball of fire! Where was that in your vision, Cassandra? Her powers might be impressive, but as she has little talent for interpreting her visions with nuance, they're about as likely to backfire as they are to help.

The Scorpion King's plot is nearly non-existent

After a scary opening narration explains Memnon's overwhelming power, the story shifts to a gathering of tribal leaders, arguing about the best way to deal with the tyrant. After King Balthazar entertains us by crushing a snotty brat's hand, Mathayus steps into the scene. It is explained that he has been hired to kill Memnon's sorcerer, so that Memnon can be defeated in battle. From this moment on, any adult with an awareness of the linear progression of time will see the story's structure unravel.

The assassination doesn't go as planned, and Mathayus is forced to watch Memnon kill his brother. No doubt, vengeance is in order. The rest of the film sees Mathayus try his hardest to kill the man that he was already hired to kill — except now, he's angry. That's pretty much the rest of the story in a nutshell. This lax plot leaves plenty of wiggle room for elaborate sword play, leather lingerie, and hordes of baddies to kill, which is what the movie's really about, when all is said and done. And that's not necessarily a bad thing: Explosions and sword fights are what we are here for, and we aren't going to deny we get a goblet full of fun. But that doesn't hide the fact that the plot of The Scorpion King is nearly non-existent.

Many of the weapons featured didn't exist in The Scorpion King's time

The events of The Scorpion King take place in 3077 BC. It also obviously takes place in a fantasy version of our world, so we can excuse most of its whimsical aspects. It can be hard to skirt vast historical inaccuracies when they start piling up, though. The opening scene of The Scorpion King features a hapless sentinel receiving a shuriken straight to the dome. Not only does this scene take place long before the shuriken's creation, but the shuriken is a Japanese weapon, originating in a land far beyond the deserts of Egypt.

The flurry of weapon-based liberties doesn't stop there, going so far as to launch Mathayus out of a catapult to escape his would-be captors. Worry not about our hero's demise, he lands comfortably on a scattering of pillows. And then there are the explosions, provided by a mad scientist with access to loads of gunpowder. Good thing he shows up when he does, because our grand finale needs glorification only possible through classic action movie destruction! Pay no mind to the fact that gunpowder won't be invented for a couple thousand years. We can suspend a lot of disbelief if need be, but when it comes to historical inaccuracies, there is only so much even the most eager grown-up can take.

Memnon doesn't actually seem like that great of a swordsman

From the moment we meet him, the tyrannical Memnon is presented as a mighty warrior. Narration states that he is "the greatest swordsman the world has ever seen." Seeing as that statement is delivered in the opening moments of the movie, we wait excitedly to see his blade-based prowess on display. This is a movie full to bursting with swordsmen — it really means something to pick one dude out of the pack and declare him to be the very best one. At last, a scene in which he is training with his guards arrives. We feel our excitement brimming. This is it, we think, he's going to get angry at the news delivered to him and unleash his slice n' dice fury on these poor lackeys. It's going to be awesome. And then ... nothing.

There never actually comes a moment when Memnon's legendary swordsmanship is put on display. Even his brief moment of victory in the final confrontation doesn't come because of his alleged skills, but because a random guard walks into the arena and shoots an arrow into Mathayus' back. We're beginning to wonder how this guy dominated an entire kingdom, because his oh-so-special sword skills don't actually add up to much.

That's not how arrows work

The battle sequences in The Scorpion King are loads of fun. There's plenty of sword clashing, arrows fly everywhere, punches are swung, and even some body slams are thrown in for good measure. There is one impressive action effect that is reserved solely for the good guys, however, and that is the devastating impact of their arrows. On numerous occasions, the bad guys land some arrow hits, and their targets fall to the ground. But when Mathayus' arrows hit their mark, their impact sends his foes into backwards somersaults.

This is admittedly fun to watch. But by the halfway point in the film, we begin to question the validity of the hero's arrow velocity. It's an effect that nearly nudges The Scorpion King into the realm of campy comedy. We may not be well-versed in the bow and arrow, but we are comfortable saying that this cartoonish trope has diminishing returns, and it starts to wear on any adult's enjoyment of the movie. Thankfully, Memnon's death doesn't arrive by arrow, but by giant ball of fire. It's not a lot more subtle, but it is a lot less slapstick.

How does everyone in ancient Egypt have such amazing teeth?

Dying young was a lot more common in ancient times. Disease ravaged the land and seeped into the human body in countless ways, unstopped by modern antibiotics or hygiene. One of the ways these dangerous germs wormed their way into the fragile human body was (and still is) through our disgusting mouths. Modern dentistry has gone a long way towards keeping our teeth healthier — humanity's smiles are a whole lot nicer than they were in the past. But that isn't the case in The Scorpion King. In this ancient land, pearly whites shine bright, like every single Akkadian has a killer dental plan.

Maybe we're being jealous: The contrast of the beautiful actors' perfectly tanned bodies against the whites of their teeth is, admittedly, spectacular. Or perhaps we're just noticing some particularly overzealous color-correction. Whatever the reason, it's jarringly apparent that everyone living in Gomorrah in 3077 BC has incredibly great teeth. They're straight, they're bright, they're all intact. We're unsure if we're more annoyed with the time period's fantastic dentistry, or with the fact that everyone is somehow dirty, yet only in places that don't diminish their attractiveness.

The movie does nothing to develop the actual Scorpion King story

Before The Scorpion King was even a concept, there was The Mummy. The wildly successful film demanded a sequel, and Hollywood saw to it that audiences got what they asked for. Returning to the helm was the lovable Brendan Fraser as well as Rachel Weisz, who helped lead the franchise's second outing to even greater success with a box office take of $433 million. The people who saw The Scorpion King as a direct result of this viewing marched into the theater with questions. Chief among them: How the heck did the Rock turn into a giant scorpion?

Those looking for interesting answers and mythos development are drastically let down by The Scorpion King, especially when it comes to how Mathayus becomes the titular beast. The process is, as it turns out, straightforward and boring: Memnon poisons an arrow with scorpion venom which Mathayus gets hit by. Later, Cassandra heals him, and proclaims that he now has the blood of the scorpion in his veins. The movie chugs along with hardly another reference to the event at all. This omission seems less a factor of screen time and more an act of lazy screenwriting.

You can't light steel on fire, Memnon

In the climax of The Scorpion King, Mathayus faces off against his nemesis, Memnon. The two duke it out on the balcony of a temple and appear to be worthy adversaries, trading blows across the terrace. The sword-clashing turns in Memnon's favor when he pulls an ace out of his tunic: He plunges his blades into a nearby flame and lights his swords on fire. In that moment, an adult viewer will search their memory for an image of Memnon covering his swords in any type of flammable substance and come up empty. The man simply decides that he can ignite steel and then does just that. 

We're not sure how much heat is required to create an open flame on metal, but we're certain it's a temperature that can't be achieved with a quick insert into an open flame during battle. This ignition turns the tides of battle, and Mathayus is overwhelmed by Memnon whirling his flaming swords about in a dazzling display. The ordeal is utterly symbolic of the early 2000s, which generally induces grins rather than scoffing. While the ability to light steel on fire shouldn't exist, we do have to admit that it looks pretty cool. Battle on, warriors.

The Rock's jet-black hair is weird

You can lambaste The Scorpion King for its faults all you want, but there is one thing that can't be denied: It captures a star being born. The only aspect of this film that rescues it from being an outrageous act of camp is the star power of the Rock. The smooth cool he exudes throughout The Scorpion King rescues an otherwise mediocre film from the dustbin of Hollywood history. However, there is something about this role that seems out of place.

Have you guessed what it is? He has hair in his movie! And not just any hair: He's got  thick, jet-black hair that flows all the way down his back. Once you key in on it, you realize it's a bit weird looking — and not just because it's hair attached to the Rock's head. The stark hairline of his wig, which looms above his perfectly plucked eyebrows, makes the Rock look plastic. This, paired with the fact that the Rock has been famously bald for years now, makes it an odd look to encounter today. The Scorpion King's version of the Rock is a remnant of the past, which shows just how much the star has grown — even though his hair has shrunk.