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Gladiator 2 Already Feels like a Hard Sell

For better or worse, most successful franchises simply fade away after a time, often in infamy after their first attempt at a sequel. However, some find glory and retire satisfied, a victorious general at the end of a long campaign. Ridley Scott’s 2000 classic Gladiator falls into the latter camp, as the single entry in a saga that has transcended time and technology, without making a second appearance in two decades.

Sword and Sandal

One of the reasons for Gladiator’s long absence may have something to do with the fact that the most recent era of sword and sandal movies seems to have begun with the release of Gladiator and ended shortly after.

In fact, one of the few places where men in loincloths continue to hold an audience to this day is in gaming, especially in the long-running Assassin’s Creed series. There is also a slot game dedicated to arena fighting for those that play online casino at Paddy Power, the appropriately named Gladiator: Road to Rome. To delve into another cinema classic, a Matrix slot is available, as well – but we’ll discuss that particular franchise shortly.

Gladiator’s movie genre, sometimes known as peplum, after a similar craze in the 1950s and 1960s, included epics like 300 (2006) and Troy (2004). It was supplanted quite dramatically by more fantasy-themed tropes like superheroes, vampires, and zombies in subsequent years, which meant that Gladiator was no more needed on the silver screen in the 2010s than Total Recall was in 2012.

Unfortunately, things aren’t quite so straightforward with Scott’s landmark picture.

De-aging Techniques

Telling the story of a Spaniard played by a New Zealander fighting in Italy, Gladiator was always intended to have a sequel (or prequel), centered on the character Lucius.

However, the fact that the protagonist Maximus didn’t make it out of the original meant that the planned return of Russell Crowe as the lead was a problem. This isn’t a ghost story, after all. The possibility of resurrection was discussed in 2006, though, likely to the distress of anybody who knew about it.

Since then, Gladiator 2 has been green-lit, with the central plot points largely unchanged. Sadly, current theories on Maximus’ ability to defy death remain ridiculous. One conceivable possibility would be to use de-aging techniques to have Crowe play his younger self. This option, while risky, was used to great effect in Spider-Man: No Way Home on Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius. Coincidentally, Octavius also died during his last outing, in 2004.

The Matrix

Even with that problem solved, worries remain. Modern attempts at older franchises have taken a bit of a collective nosedive recently. So far removed from the time when they were famous, films like The Matrix no longer seem to have enough of a place in the public consciousness to justify their existence. Back in 1999, The Matrix birthed a whole new breed of trenchcoat-wearing geeks. In 2021, The Matrix Resurrections couldn’t even make its budget back.

Of course, Gladiator is a different film in a different genre but a sequel still seems like a risk at best and an insult at worst. With no release date yet, though, we can still hope for the best.

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