- Directors: Zack Snyder
- Producers: Frank Miller, Zack Snyder, Gianni Nunnari, Jeffrey Silver, Mark Canton
- Writers: Screenplay, Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael Gordon, Comic Book, Frank Miller, Lynn Varley
- Genres: Action, History, War
- Actors: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, Vincent Regan, Rodrigo Santoro
Through Dilios’ narration, the life of young Leonidas is depicted, chronicling his journey from a boy to a man per Spartan doctrine. Years later, after Leonidas is crowned King, Persian messengers arrive at the gates of Sparta demanding its submission to King Xerxes. Offended by their threats and behavior, King Leonidas and his guards kick the messengers into a well. Knowing that these actions will precipitate a Persian attack, Leonidas visits the Ephors — ancient priests whose blessing he needs to convince the Spartan council to authorize going to war. He proposes a strategy to repel the numerically superior Persians by using the terrain of Thermopylae (the Hot Gates)â€”his plan involves funneling the Persians into a narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Ephors consult the Oracle, who decrees that Sparta must not go to war. After Leonidas departs a messenger from Xerxes appears, rewarding the Ephors for their covert support and revealing that they have been corrupted by Xerxes.
Denied by the Ephors, Leonidas follows his plan anyway. While he does not require the council’s permission for this, taking such a small force, turns what had been a bold strategy into a certain suicide mission. Leonidas hopes that the sacrifice of himself and his men will spur the council to defy the Ephors and all of Greece to unite against the threat to freedom and democracy (represented by Greece) posed by slavery and tyranny (represented by Persia).
In Sparta, Queen Gorgo reluctantly submits sexually to the influential Theron in exchange for help in persuading the Spartan council to send reinforcements to Leonidas. Following her address to the Council, Theron publicly betrays the Queen, prompting the councilmen to cry out in outrage and Gorgo to kill him out of rage, which spills open a bag of Xerxes’ gold from his robe. The exposure of Theron’s treachery, along with their Queen’s plea, prompts the Council to unite against Persia. Meanwhile, at Thermopylae, the Persians use the goat path to surround the Spartans. Xerxes’ general demands their surrender, again offering Leonidas titles and prestige. Leonidas seemingly bows in submission, allowing one of his men to leap over him and kill the general. A furious Xerxes orders his troops to attack. As Persian archers shoot at the remaining Spartans, Leonidas rises and hurls his spear at Xerxes, cutting the King on the cheek, thus making good on his promise to make “the God-King bleed.” Visibly disturbed by this reminder of his own mortality, Xerxes watches as all of the Spartans are cut down by a massive barrage of arrows. Concluding his tale before an audience of attentive Spartans, Dilios declares that the Persian army, depleted by desertions out of fear the heavy casualties they suffered at the hands of a mere 300 Spartans, now faces 10,000 Spartans commanding 30,000 Greeks. Although still outnumbered, Dilios declares that the Greeks shall have victory. Praising Leonidas’ sacrifice, Dilios leads the assembled Greek army in a charge against the Persian army, the Battle of Plataea.