In an interview, Scott explained that he felt sorry for Commodus, who he believed due to his upbringing never had a chance to be a decent person:
“I saw him as the most likable character of anyone in Gladiator. He was the result of neglect, total neglect of the father he adored. Until finally, in the movie, the father said, “I’m neglecting you even more. “You will not be a prince of Rome.” And then, in his old age, the father realizes that he needs some kind of absolute. So he does something terrible. He kneels before the boy and asks for forgiveness. This was disastrous, because the boy had never seen his father ask for such a close conversation. …So she strangles him. From that point on, I thought Joaquin was the most compassionate person during the movie. What he did and what followed, what resulted from it, the character of it was created by his father.
Although there is an old saying that the sins of a father should not be passed on to his son, in this case Mark passed on his sins because he had negligently created a monster. By never showing Commodus any love or treating him with any respect, he kept him trapped in his youthful state, always desperate for approval.