The Insane Gladiator Sequel That Never Happened

The concept of a Gladiator The sequel is one that’s drifted around Hollywood for over 20 years, and in that time it’s gotten no less ridiculous. the original Gladiator, Ridley Scott‘s homage to ancient Rome, which single-handedly revived the sword and sandal genre, was a great film, but it also worked as a standalone experience without the need for future entries. The film followed Maximus (Russell Crowe), a legate forced into slavery after being betrayed by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenixlisten)), a power-hungry emperor responsible for the death of Maximus’ wife and child. After rising through the ranks of the Colosseum’s gladiatorial contests, he defeats Commodus in a one-on-one duel before succumbing to his wounds, convinced that he has avenged the murder of his family. It’s an ending that leaves little hanging in the air and is the perfect crowning glory to one of Ridley Scott’s finest films.

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But it’s also a movie that grossed just under $500 million and won Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars, so it’s no surprise sequel rumors have been swirling ever since. Many names have been attached to the project, including original film screenwriters David Franzoni and John Logannext to new faces like Peter Craig. Little is known about what these scripts would have involved beyond the vague idea that they would have been prequels or sequels or even some bizarre combination of the two, but none are more confusing than the one floating in the middle. 2000s by one of the most unconventional people who could have been chosen for the project – none other than the musical messiah of death himself, Nick Cave.

This might seem like an odd choice – and not least because Cave only had one script credit to his name (John Hillcoat 2005 west Proposal) when the offer reached him. There is, however, a logic to hiring him for the job. Religion has been a recurring theme in Cave’s music throughout his career, as has his morbid fascination with death and the darker side of the human psyche. Christianity in particular was central to his work; he used it to explore topics of good versus evil or the place of organized religion in society at large, to name a few examples. It is also a theme closely related to the Roman Empire, its emergence as a dominant religion in the 4th century being one of the crucial reasons for its eventual decline. It is perhaps unsurprising then that Cave chose to structure his storyline around this conflict, using this pivotal moment in Roman history to explore his longstanding fascination with Christianity from a new angle, but the way he went about achieving this was anything but conventional.


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The biggest change made by Cave was in the genre of the film. Rather than stick to the grounded realism of the original film, Cave wanted to focus on the mythological side of ancient Rome that had previously fallen by the wayside in favor of real-world elements like gladiators and emperors. And that didn’t mean bringing in characters like Virgil or Ovid who would allow him to introduce this rich new tapestry while keeping one foot in reality, but literally including Roman deities like Jupiter and Mars to push the film into a good more fantastic. direction. Combine that with a story revolving around purgatory, resurrection, and a theological war between old and new gods (with more than a few retcons from the original story), and you’ve got a movie that feels so disconnected from what had preceded him than to even call him Gladiator 2 feels like blatantly bad marketing. Unsurprisingly, Cave’s script was rejected, but once the initial “what the hell” backlash died down, a feeling began to emerge that what Cave was trying to accomplish didn’t really matter. wasn’t as absurd as it first seemed…even if first impressions made it feel like a million miles away. far from what made the success of the first film.


Recovery soon after Gladiator, Maximus awakens in Elysium, the Roman afterlife whose idyllic landscapes formed his last waking thoughts before his tragic death. Only it’s not the paradise he imagined, but rather a hellish environment populated by thieves and heavy rains and souls too corrupt to ascend to heaven. Guided by Mordecai (a guide of mysterious origin), he is taken before Jupiter and six other Roman deities where he is tasked with finding and killing Hephaestus, one of their own who betrayed them for another god. Complete their task and he will finally be reunited with his wife and son, fulfilling the dream he has held since the previous film. Shortly after, he finds himself in Lyon several years after his death, emerging from the body of a dying Christian in the midst of a massacre orchestrated by Roman legionaries. From now on, the film follows Maximus as he returns to Rome, reunites with his old friend Juba (Djimon Hounsou), and battles with the new Emperor Lucius, Commodus’ nephew who grew up just as heartless as his uncle.


But the fantasy doesn’t end there. While most of the film would revert to the grounded tone of the original after Maximus’ resurrection (with only the recurring presence of Mordecai serving to reinforce the otherworldly elements of the storyline), Cave would return to the land of the weird. with great enthusiasm for the finale. After a series of events that see him cursed to live forever, the film will end with a montage of Maximus fighting in various conflicts throughout history such as the Crusades, World War II, and the Vietnam War. The final scene would see Maximus working at the Pentagon in modern-day America, continuing his eternal struggle against humanity’s most depraved emotions while continuing to struggle with his inability to reunite with his dead family. Generate credits.

To say it’s a drastic departure from the original would be the understatement of millennials. Bringing in the Roman gods was pretty implausible, but at least it had some connection to the already established world of Gladiator. A modern twist is something else, and even those aboard the resurrected Maximus would find it hard to accept such an ending. Most notable of these was Russell Crowe himself, who responded to Cave’s storyline with a simple “i don’t like it man”, a four-word statement that effectively killed the project on the spot. Despite Crowe’s denunciation, Ridley Scott attempted to try Cave’s script, conceding that many elements of it “work[ed] very good”, before finally letting him join his place among the growing pile of defeats Gladiator 2 scripts. Cave has since admitted he never thought it would be produced anyway, a belief that explains everything he did and the kitchen sink’s attitude towards the project.


But despite the unusual nature of the script, parts of it seem like a step in the right direction for what a Gladiator 2 should look like. The best sequels are the ones that leapfrog from the original to explore new ideas rather than just repeat what audiences have already seen, and it seems like Cave is a firm believer in that. The first film went to great lengths to portray Roman culture as accurately as possible, and although many anachronisms were made in an effort to make an entertaining film (angering many historians who had been recruited as advisers), the film’s description of Rome during the second half of the 2nd century is broadly correct. After focusing on the real side of ancient Rome in the original, it would make sense to change direction and explore another component of this fascinating period of human civilization.

Gladiator had already sown the seeds with his occasional dream streak in the golden wheat fields of Elysium, and given that Judah’s last line implies that he and Maximus will meet again despite the latter’s death, it’s not too difficult to imagine the filmmakers dipping their toes into the most mythical side of this culture. If nothing else, it would have ensured that the movie wasn’t the same story all over again, except with a different coat of paint, avoiding the predictable plot of the legacy sequel where a previously unknown child of Maximus is forced to become a gladiator while being trained by an aging Juba. Fans of the original might be happy with it, but after two decades in development, it’s not unreasonable to expect more.

It’s also easy to see why the film’s central thesis of Christianity and humanity’s relationship to religion would appeal to Scott. He has since explored both subjects in his Extraterrestrial prequels, with Prometheus in particular blending historical facts and whimsical sci-fi concepts into an intriguing (if uneven) film. The film’s title comes straight from a Titan of Greek mythology, and if Scott is willing to use a sequel to one of his greatest films to explore such concepts, it’s not impossible to think he would jump to the other great mythology of classical antiquity to do it again. Additionally, his 2005 film kingdom of paradise also dealt with a historical conflict that heavily featured Christians, but given that it came out just as Cave was allegedly working on his script, it’s possible Scott found the material too similar to something he had just attacked.

It remains to be seen whether Gladiator 2 will never happen, with Scott and Crowe’s repeated assurances becoming less and less convincing the further we get from the original. While appearing on the campaign track for The last duel and Gucci HouseScott reaffirmed his commitment to do so, saying he “be ready to go“once he’s done with his current movie, Napoleon. It’s admirable that the 84-year-old director only ramps up production as he gets older, but those are all sentiments we’ve heard before. Given Hollywood’s fascination with long-delayed sequels to classic movies, a follow-up is almost certainly inevitable, but whether it will take the form of a prequel or a sequel or an amalgamation of the two remains to be seen. Regardless of what happens, it’s safe to say it won’t draw inspiration from Cave’s script, which crosses the line from believable to implausible a few hundred miles or so. Had it been done, it would have been the most stunning left turn in cinema, but given the pointlessness of a Gladiator 2 is, maybe that’s exactly what the movie needs.


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