Behold: Your First Official Look At Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator II’
— Updated on 4 July 2024

Behold: Your First Official Look At Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator II’

— Updated on 4 July 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Vanity Fair has blown those grainy behind-the-scenes photos out of the water by publishing the first official images of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2 featuring Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, and Denzel Washington in all their costumed glory — as well as providing some key story details.

In line with what’s been drip fed to the public over the past two years, the hotly anticipated sequel follows Mescal’s Lucius Vera (originally portrayed by Spencer Treat Clark) — the now-adult son of noblewoman Lucilla (Connie Nielson); and nephew of the villainous Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) — who is “inspired” by the actions of Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe).

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“Decades have passed and Lucius has come of age far away from his mother. While he was still a child, Lucilla sent him to the northern coast of Africa, to a region called Numidia that was (at that point) just outside the reach of the Roman Empire,” explains Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican.

“He never fully understood why, and as he grew stronger, so did his resentment — even if his mother’s reasons had been pure… As Gladiator II begins, Mescal’s Lucius has a wife and child, and lives a relatively peaceful life with them until conquerors from his homeland begin to encroach.”

These “conquerors” are led by Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal) — a Roman general who has apparently been trained as a junior officer under Russell Crowe’s Maximus (although he wasn’t ever explicitly depicted in the first movie).

“This movie has an identity that is shaped by his legacy. It wouldn’t make sense for it not to,” Pascal told Vanity Fair.

“But at the end of the day, he’s a different person. And that can’t change who he is. Maximus is Maximus, and that can’t be replicated. That just makes Acacius capable of different things.”

Now here’s the twist: once Lucius, the grandson of Rome’s former emperor, finds himself a prisoner at the very heart of civilisation, he encounters a familiar face — one that doesn’t immediately recognise him.

“The wrinkle is, when he gets to Rome as a prisoner and has a first round in the arena, he sees his mother — to his shock,” said director Ridley Scott.

“He doesn’t know whether she’s alive or not. How would he know? You don’t have telephones. There’s no press. And there’s his mother in the royal box looking pretty good after 20 years. And she’s with the general [Pascal’s Marcus Acacius] who he came face-to-face with on the wall in Numidia.”

Breznican elaborates: “Naturally, the film eventually finds Lucius and Acacius locking swords again, but then Lucius is prepared to fight everything and everyone.”

Then there’s the matter of Denzel Washington. Or rather, who Hollywood’s most consistent star portrays in his long-awaited reunion with Ridley Scott.

Washington’s character is a “dashing powerbroker” named Macrinus; and as Scott himself reveals: “He’s an arms dealer who supplies food for the armies in Europe, supplies wine and oil, makes steel, makes spears, weapons, cannons, and catapults.”

“He is a very wealthy man. Instead of having a stable of racehorses, he has a stable of gladiators… He’s beautiful. He drives a golden Ferrari. I got him a gold-plated chariot.”

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Prior to both this and the aforementioned paparazzi snapshots included throughout the article below, unfinished footage of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2 was screened at CinemaCon 2024.

The clip reportedly opened with a voiceover of Mescal’s Lucius Verus: “I remember that day. I never forgot it. That a slave could take revenge against an emperor. That a slave could get justice in the arena.”

From there, we see Lucius enter the Colosseum as Denzel Washington’s Macrinus, who ostensibly serves as a mentor to the young hero, tells him:

“This is what they believe in. Power!”

Now here’s where things get wild…

As outlandish as it may sound, rest assured, it’s historically accurate — a flooded Colosseum serves as the stage of an epic naval battle (boats and all). Someone even falls off one of the boats before getting swiftly devoured by a shark.

Somewhere along the way, Lucius also battles some rabid baboons and a rhino.

“You have something in you, smoke, rage. Rage is your gift,” says Macrinus.

More battle scenes, more carnage. The villainous co-Emperor Geta (Joseph Quinn in place of Barry Keoghan) traipses about dramatically to serve as this sequel’s Commodus. Macrinus continues:

“The only truth in Rome is the law of the strongest. You will be my instrument.”

There was an appearance from Pedro Pascal’s Marcus Acacius simultaneously engaging five men in combat; Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla handing Lucius a ring that belonged to Russell Crowe’s Maximus; all building up to a fight between Macrinus and Acacius.

The footage is punctuated with Emperor Geta proclaiming that “The gods have spoken!” as Lucius decapitates a man.

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The aforementioned thespians are joined by a star-studded cast featuring Fred Hechinger as co-emperor Caracalla; along with May Calamawy, Lior Raz, Peter Mensah, and Matt Lucas. Djimon Hounsou and Derek Jacobi reprise their roles as former gladiator Juba and Senator Gracchus, respectively.

The forthcoming historical epic also hails the return of costume designer Janty Yates and production designer Arthur Max; as well as reuniting Scott with two other seasoned collaborators — director of photography Dariusz Wolski and screenwriter David Scarpa (All The Money In The WorldNapoleon).

Like we’ve said many times before, November 22nd 15th cannot come any sooner.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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