As improbable as it may sound, Ridley Scott is moving forward with his sequel to his 2000 epic Gladiator that’s tentatively titled — you guessed it — Gladiator 2.
Fans of the Russel Crowe-led film were stunned in 2018 when it was reported that Scott, despite being in his 80s, believes he’s got a Gladiator 2 in him. After all, it’s not as though he’s shown any signs of slowing down in recent years. This year alone he’s behind films like The Last Duel and House Of Gucci and he’ll continue his movie-making streak with Napoleon movie Kitbag next.
After that, though, he recently explained to Empire Magazine, he’s setting his sights on Gladiator 2 a follow-up to his immensely successful 2000 Oscar-winner. Scott told the outlet that, although he’s hard at work on Kitbag, he’s having the movie written by The Hunger Games and The Town scribe Peter Craig while he’s in production. The hope is to be able to finish his Napoleon epic and transition immediately and seamlessly into the continued adventures in Gladiator 2.
Gladiator 2 will follow the first film, which earned an impressive 11 Academy Award nominations, ultimately taking home five including the highly coveted win for best picture as well as best actor for Russell Crowe. Scott was, of course, nominated but ultimately lost in the best director category to Steven Soderbergh for Traffic. The story of Gladiator follows General Maximus Decimus Meridius in the year 180 AD. After leading the Roman Army to defeat Germanic tribes, he intends to go home when he is told by the current Emperor that he wished to have Maximus, not his own son, succeed him. Upon hearing this, the Emperor’s son murders his father and leaves Maximus for dead. Ever the difficult one to kill, the savvy general finds himself instead sold into slavery where he becomes the greatest gladiator the Roman Colosseum has ever seen, eventually inspiring a rebellion that would end the usurping Emperor’s rule.
Unfortunately — and we’re officially in two-decade-old spoiler territory here — Maximus dies at the end of the movie while vanquishing the big bad Emperor. So, it’s incredibly doubtful that he’ll somehow return to play any kind of role in Gladiator 2. While movies have pulled off better death reversals, Ridley Scott’s soon-to-be Gladiator franchise just isn’t that kind of movie.
When the sequel was initially announced, Deadline reported that Gladiator 2 will instead take place twenty years after the original and focus on the character Lucias. He was just a boy in the first film, but was at the heart of a lot of political intrigue given his uncle was the fake Emperor Commodus and his mother was helping Maximus while turning down her brother’s incredibly inappropriate advances.
It’s unclear where Lucias’ journey will take him in Gladiator 2 but fans will no doubt miss the intensity that Russell Crowe brought to the role. However, in reflecting on the movie after 20 years in an interview with Variety, Crowe noted that he’s become synonymous with the movie in a way he shouldn’t have. In a rare moment of humility for the actor, he heaped all the praise for the film on Scott, heralding him as a creative genius for both the impressive look of the film as well as the performances he was able to get out the all-star cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou and Oliver Reed. So, if Crowe is to be believed, the heart and soul of the Gladiator franchise lies in Scott, who is very much determined to get back to Rome as soon as possible.