Hunks galore

300: Rise Of An Empire starring Sullivan Stapleton as Greek general Themistokles

Seven years ago, the movie 300 offered a new perspective - and appreciation - of shirtless dudes.

Never had there been a movie that was literally such a flesh parade.

Just to jolt your memory, 300 was a display of plenty of testosterone from an orgy of half-naked men. Based on the historic Battle of Thermopylae - with heaps of creative licence used, of course - the stylised tale immortalised the heroics of 300 Spartans.

Championed by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), this group sacrificed their lives to protect their Greek city from Persian invaders led by the despot Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).

It was a box-office hit, and much was made of the defined abs sported by Butler and his co-stars. The movie even spawned a Spartan workout.

Guys will be inspired to hit the gym again now that six-packs are back in fashion, with the release of 300: Rise Of An Empire on March 6.

Neither a sequel nor prequel, it takes place somewhat simultaneously as the events of 300.

The story pits another topless and battle cry-ready Greek general by the name of Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) against Xerxes' massive army commanded by the ruthless Artemisia (Eva Green).

Zack Snyder, who co-wrote and directed 300, was the screenwriter and producer of 300: Rise Of An Empire. This US film-maker has the innate ability to turn relatively unknowns into global sex symbols.

SECRET FORMULA

His secret formula? Washboard abs, lots of them - and in your face.

Having a solid set turned Butler, who before 300 was still a relatively unknown Scottish actor, into a household name.

Snyder also helped make Billy Crudup memorable in 2009's Watchmen, playing the chiselled - and very nude - Dr Manhattan.

Then came Henry Cavill, whose physique was already super in 2011's Immortals and was given a further boost when he showcased his abs of steel in the aptly titled Man Of Steel.

No doubt 300: Rise Of An Empire could be a star-making vehicle for the unknown Australian actor, much like what 300 did for Butler.

Will Stapleton become the next Hugh Jackman?

Time will tell, but this 36-year-old already has a set of abs that rivals his compatriot's - and that, we know, is money in Hollywood.

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