First Official Trailer for ‘Gladiator II’ Shows Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal Face Off in the Colosseum

Photo Credit: Gladiator II Official Movie Website / Paramount Pictures
Photo Credit: Gladiator II Official Movie Website / Paramount Pictures

The trailer for the long-awaited sequel to the 2000 historical epic, Gladiator, aptly named Gladiator II, has been released. Jam-packed with action and showing the likes of Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington in action, it appears to take what the first film left and elevate it to a whole new level.

Connie Nielsen and Joaquin Phoenix as Lucilla and Commodus in 'Gladiator'
Gladiator, 2000. (Photo Credit: Zayne / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

Filming officially wrapped on Gladiator II in January 2024. News first broke about the movie in December 2022, with a host of big-name Hollywood stars having signed on, including Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal. At CinemaCon 2024, its title was revealed, sparking fanfare among those excited to see the full feature, and while Russell Crowe isn’t expected to appear, he spoke out about the feature.

Director Ridley Scott confirmed in 2021 that the script for the sequel had been written, three years after the project was green-lit by Paramount Pictures. While the screenplay was initially slated to be created by Nick Cave, long-time collaborator David Scarpa instead provided the story.

Gladiator is considered one of the best historical epics ever released, and it was the second-highest-grossing film of 2000, after Tom Cruise‘s Mission: Impossible 2. Starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, it centers on the betrayal of Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius by Commodus, the son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

After learning Marcus Aurelius has pegged Maximus to secede him, Commodus kills his father and assumes the throne. He then orders the murders of Maximus’ family, who himself is stripped of his status and sold into slavery under a gladiator trainer. Seeking to avenge his loved ones’ deaths, the former general enters tournaments as a gladiator and rises through the ranks. His popularity skyrockets as he secures victory after victory.

Ridley Scott standing on a red carpet
Ridley Scott will return as director for Gladiator II. (Photo Credit: Michael Ostuni / Patrick McMullan / Getty Images)

Also starring the late Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, Gladiator earned over $460 million at the worldwide box office. Scott was praised for his script and directorial skills, while Crowe and Phoenix’s performances launched them into the spotlight. During the 2001 awards season, the movie won a number of accolades, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film, the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and five Oscars at the 73rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

Gladiator‘s popularity is credited with reigniting public interest in the events of ancient Rome and Greece. It’s also said to have reinvented the dying sword-and-sandal genre of film.

The film is loosely based on events that occurred within the Roman Empire during the 2nd century AD. Scott aimed to make the project as historically accurate as possible, hiring historians and advisors. That being said, he did take some artistic liberties with the script, which upset some of those hired to ensure Gladiator‘s authenticity.

Examples of this include the fact Marcus Aurelius wasn’t actually murdered by his son – his death was the result of the Antonine Plague, which swept through the Roman Empire during his reign. Additionally, the costumes weren’t historically accurate, with the helmets and armor coming from a different time period, and a number of weapons were used in an incorrect fashion.

Denzel Washington standing on a red carpet
Denzel Washington is among those cast to appear in Gladiator II. (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

At CinemaCon 2024, it was announced the sequel would have a simple title: Gladiator II. Along with this, Collider shared photos of a promotional stand for the film at the convention, which featured the quote, “What we do in life echoes in eternity” – a preview of sorts for those who can’t wait to sink their teeth into the feature.

Gladiator II is set 25 years after the first film and will center around Lucius Verus II, portrayed in the original by Spencer Treat Clark. He’s the son of Lucilla and Lucius Verus, the former of whom was Commodus’ sister. The child served as co-ruler during Commodus’ reign in the 2000 movie.

While it was initially believed Clark would reprise his role, it was announced in January 2023 that Paul Mescal would portray Lucius Verus II in the sequel. Connie Nielsen will reprise her role as Lucilla, while Derek Jacobi is slated to return as Gracchus.

Newcomers to the franchise include Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Peter Mensah, Matt Lucas and Stranger Things‘ (2016-present) Joseph Quinn. While Dunkirk (2017) star Barry Keoghan was slated to portray Emperor Geta, scheduling conflicts led the role to be given to Fred Hechinger.

The release of Gladiator II‘s official first trailer on July 9, 2024, was the first time worldwide audiences got a sneak peek at what’s to come in the epic sequel. All grown up, Lucius Verus II is as much a fighter as Maximus was, with various scenes showing him in action in the Colosseum.

In a June 2024 interview uploaded to the Kyle Meredith with… YouTube Channel, Russell Crowe broached the topic of Gladiator II, admitting he’s actually a bit uncomfortable with the fact a sequel is being made.

“I’m slightly uncomfortable; the fact that they’re making another one, you know? Because, of course, I’m dead and I have no say in what gets done,” he told Meredith. “A couple of things that I’ve heard, I’m like, ‘No, no, no. That’s not in the moral journey of that particular character.’

“But, you know, I can’t say anything. That’s not my place. I’m six feet under. So we’ll see what that is like.”

The actor also added that he’s slightly jealous about not being involved in the production.

“I reflect back on the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it and the doors that particular movie opened for me,” he said. “So there’s definitely a tinge – and this is just being purely honest – a tinge of melancholy, a tinge of jealousy.”

Still from 'Gladiator'
Gladiator, 2000. (Photo Credit: Pineapples101 / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

Previously speaking about the film with Deadline, Scott said, “Oh, it’s been written. It’s already been written. We have a good footprint, a good, logical place to go. You can’t just do another Gladiator type movie. You’ve got to follow…there’s enough components from the first one to pick up the ball and continue it.”

It was initially said Gladiator II would enter production following that of Napoleon (2023), Scott’s film about the rise of French leader Napoleon Bonaparte and his turbulent relationship with Empress Joséphine.

More from us: INTERVIEW: Director Steven Luke Talks New WWII Film, ‘Come Out Fighting’

Gladiator II is currently slated to premiere in North American theaters on November 22, 2024. International fans will be able to view the movie a week early, on November 15.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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