There was once a time, not that long ago, when a movie’s story being resolutely concluded meant that there was no chance of a sequel. However, that was when an interminable succession of series installments were firmly lodged under the law of diminishing returns and not a crescendoing spectacle ever increasing in scope. As such, Gladiator 2, a sequel to Ridley Scott’s swords-and-sandals epic, is in the works, and it’s now been revealed when it’s set.
When Gladiator was released in 2000, it was the second-highest grossing film of the year, beaten only by Mission: Impossible 2, which eclipsed everything so thoroughly it wasn’t even funny, and didn’t even get points knocked off for introducing Limp Bizkit to the world. Given that the story ends (spoilers for a 20-year-old movie) with the death of its hero Maximus and his afterlife seeing him reunited with his murdered family, audiences naturally weren’t clamoring for a sequel, but as I said, it was a different time then.
Regarding the timeframe of the follow-up, producer Walter F. Parkes stated the following:
“It picks up the story 30 years later, 25 years later.”
Revisiting long-rested material is getting to be a bit of a habit for Scott, who in recent years returned to the Alien franchise with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, 15 years after it was unceremoniously suspended with the distinctly mediocre Alien: Resurrection, and also with Blade Runner 2049, a sequel arriving 35 years after Blade Runner debuted.
The advancement of years within the movie’s timeline is presumably to account for those of star Russell Crowe, who is expected to return. Exactly how Scott intends to bring back the film’s dead protagonist has not been specified, although he has previously teased that he figured out a way, one that hopefully won’t undo the sense of closure that the ending of the original provided.
Gladiator took place in a pseudo-historical setting, featuring the real-life Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, although played fast and loose with reality and greatly condensed the timescale of the latter’s rule. In bringing back a dead hero, it could go down more of a supernatural route, but it might be too much to hope that it will incorporate the joyfully lunatic concept dreamed up by Australian writer and musician Nick Cave, featuring Maximus resurrected to assassinate Jesus Christ, whose growth in popularity is causing the old gods to die off, if for no other reason than Jesus died a century and a half before the original movie took place.
Whatever plans for Gladiator 2 are being formed, if nothing else, it needs to touch on what made the original such a hit. That being that it was a sweeping epic of loyalty, betrayal, love, vengeance, redemption and sacrifice. Are you not entertained?!?!