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Ancient Egypt: The Scorpion King Movie Decoded

The Mummy spinoff movie known as The Scorpion King was by all means, not the best franchise. Yet it still held the responsibility of teaching its audience about the ancient world. The Scorpion King was almost like an ancient world parody that fought against mythical deities and old world concepts. The series came into play after the popularity rise of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his portrayal of the Scorpion King in Return of the Mummy II. It was the Rock’s first leading film, so most of his movies, he is portrayed in a very comedic acting style and fun representation.

The setting of the movie is very confusing as it has no historical ties to a region. It leaves the audience to assume that it’s in the middle east somewhere or most commonly Egypt. The official synopsis of the movie states that the movie takes place in Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah are said to be a biblical city known as the city of sin that god destroyed. In terms of archeological evidence, the city is a myth. However, there has been new evidence surfing that an asteroid destroyed a city near the area the city was said to be.

In several scenes of the movie, the audience is confused by the setting as there is an abundant of Sumerian and Egyptian culture within the city. However, the synopsis states that this is before the time of pyramids so how in the world did Dwayne the Rock Johnson take over Thebes in Mummy II if it never existed in his time? This movie was a tool for subliminal messages and maintain the lie that Sumerian culture founded Egypt. Yet again this movie was released in 2002 and it was a different time. It was before the age of social media and media expression. So this movie was almost like law without much push back on representation.

In the first line of the movie when The Rock goes to save his brother. The antagonist clearly mentions all the regions of Sumeria. “We have killed Babylonians, we have killed Mesopotamians, Assyrians but never an Akkadian.” At this moment everything, where the audience thought prior to watching this movie, was proven false. The continuity was thrown off as The Rock wasn’t an Egyptian as the Mummy franchise portrayed him but an Akkadian.

This means that the movie supported the Dynastic Race theory, which states that those who created the Kemetic civilization (Egyptian) were outsiders who migrated into Egypt to create a ruling class. In the next scene, there is a meeting taking place with several rulers on the main antagonist Memnon. Memnon’s name was demonized in this movie as he was an Ethiopian mythical king who fought in the Trojan wars (he’s also portrayed as white as well).

Despite having many nations in one meeting, only two nations stood out the last of the Akkadians and Nubia. Nubia’s presence in the film is very clear. However, there constantly degraded or disrespected. For example at 6:20 a man confront the Nubian king and says to him “You are the ruler of nothing but a pile of rocks and sand”. Balthazar who is portrayed by the late actor Michael Clarke Duncan was the ruler of Nubia in the film. His character shows a power perception of his kingdom but he’s also very arrogant and envy of Mathayus (Rock). There is a constant beef between Mathayus and Balthazar. In which Balthazar believes he doesn’t need the Akkadian assassins to take down Memnon. The Nubian king had a military consisted of several Nubian women and his wife name was “Isis”. Isis is an old kingdom deity in Egypt, was celebrated in much of Nile valley culture. Fast forward to 52:24, Mathayus travels to Balthazar’s kingdom (Nubia). Upon his arrival, they are bet with a lot of hate and rejection. Balthazar fights Mathayus in an honorable fist fight was, of course, the Rock won. With Mathayus winning he convinces Balthazar to go fight Memnon since he didn’t have an army.  The army he needs would defeat Memnon’s mercenaries who look similar to the villains in Return of the Mummy II (They had the same clothes).

A key part of this scene is the fact that Nubia is said to be a sanctuary. This is why it was a vast diversity in his village. But it could also explain the relationship Egypt played in the ancient world as it was a melting pot and safe having due to its geographical region. In the final battle, the Nubian king has degraded again as he his dressed as a woman. Something that is seen in a negative light within the black community. However towards the end of the movie we see a bond between the Nubian king and Mathayus as they defeat Memnon and his forces. Balthazar is a great fighter and fights for the survival of his people. At the end, the city of Gomorrah was under Mathayus rule. As they depart the most powerful lines were said between the two. At 1:23:35, Mathayus-“Stay here with us Balthazar. There’s much work to be done”.

Balthazar-“I have to look after my own people. You are a king now Akkadian and a good one I think Don’t forget how you got here or the people you came from.

Mathayus- “My people will live on through me, remember there will always be a place for you here.”

Balthazar-‘Laughs’….(as he leaves)

“Remember, Nubian eyes will be watching you, Scorpion King”


The last scene is a subliminal message to the founding of Egypt. As there were both Sumerian and Nubian influences to the birth of Egypt. However, Nubia is the one who gives Mathayus his people, morals, land, and opportunity. Nubian eyes are watching is all a reference to the constant rivalries between Egypt and Nubia. With all the battles they fought in the movie, they realized they couldn’t defeat Memnon without each other-“Don’t forget how you got here or the people you came from.”

Despite the diversity of Nubians with white Amazon warriors. For not one moment do you think his kingdom is not African, this is due to the role of leadership and the leading actor actually being portrayed as an African (as well as his queen). Unlike the Mummy were Seti and Imhotep were clearly European even though the Medjay were pure Africans in the movie. You perceive the nation as European or Arab because of leadership.

Like most Ancient Egypt films there isn’t really a moment when your actually watching ancient Egypt. Besides the films of the 20th century, Egypt is always a cameo. In Scorpion King 4, an older Mathayus meets Balthazar’s grown up daughter. They visit a tomb in Giza to find secrets about a myth. However, if the audience looks closer Egypt is abandoned. How is that possible? Egypt wasn’t founded when Mathayus became king but when he turns to about 50 years old ancient Egypt is gone?

There are many continuity issues and it’s overall not the best franchise. However, one thing remained constant. The representation of Egypt itself was NEVER there. It was only illusions, the movie focused on the neighbors of Egypt who played a significant part in the rise and fall of Egypt. However despite the many mentions and allegedly being a prequel to the mummy series we never actually travel to Egypt.

Article by Ptahamous

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