Gladiator II: Paul Mescal battles a rhino in upcoming film

July 10, 2024 2:19 pm

[Source: BBC]

The trailer for Ridley Scott’s sequel to Gladiator has dropped, showcasing several epic scenes, including a water battle in Rome’s Colosseum and Paul Mescal being rammed by a rhino.

All Of Us Strangers star Mescal plays Lucius, fighting for his life as a gladiator, despite his high status as nephew of corrupt former Emperor Commodus.

Sir Ridley’s first film in 2000, which starred Russell Crowe as soldier-turned-gladiator Maximus, won five Oscars including best actor.

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The trailer opens as Lucius recalls his childhood memory, when ex-Roman commander Maximus battled his uncle in the arena.

“I remember that day. I never forgot it, that a slave could take revenge against an emperor,” Lucius says, before we see him in a flashback from the first film, being dragged to safety by his mother.

Here’s a quick recap of the first Gladiator film: the plot revolves around upstanding Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, who was asked to inherit the role of emperor from ailing Marcus Aurelius.

But Commodus murdered the emperor and took the title, before killing Maximus’ family and leaving him a slave. Maximus rose up to become a gladiator, returning to Rome in order to exact his revenge.

World History Encyclopedia describes gladiatorial contests as “bloody entertainment… an opportunity for emperors to display their wealth”, where up to 50,000 spectators enjoyed “contests which were literally a matter of life and death”.

Some battles included wild animals – Gladiator featured tigers in the arena, while an angry-looking rhino with a bloodied horn charges at Mescal in the sequel.

It’s fair to say the first film caused a flurry of excitement among admirers of Crowe’s powerful portrayal of Maximus.

Given Mescal enjoyed a huge surge in his fanbase after he starred in BBC drama Normal People, it’s possible his role in Gladiator II may have a similar impact.

Lucius is undoubtedly reminiscent of the honourable Maximus, battling from below while having a much higher purpose.

In the sequel, Lucius has been captured from his home far from Rome, and brought there as a prisoner.

He becomes a gladiator, working for Macrinus, played by Denzel Washington, who sponsors fighters much like Oliver Reed’s Proximo did in the first film.

Lucius protects his birthright, saying he doesn’t know where he was born, adding: “I never knew a mother and or father.”

“You will be my instrument,” Macrinus responds.

It appears that the twin emperors now in place – played by Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger – are also corrupt. We see them laugh demonically while gladiators die in their mock water battle (which did happen in real life).

Lucius’s mother, Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen in the original film as well, watches with horror while her son fights beneath her, although we don’t know if she recognises him.

However we see her take him full circle, back to Maximus, by giving him a ring which belonged to the Roman general before he died.