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Gladiator 2 Release Date, Cast And Plot

2000's Gladiator was many things: a stirring historical epic, a multiple Academy Award winner (including Best Picture), and one of the best movies in the long and distinguished filmography of director Ridley Scott. One thing it did not appear to be, however, was the first chapter in a longer story. The flick followed the travails of Maximus (Russell Crowe), a general in the Roman army and trusted confidante of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), who is betrayed in a power grab by the Emperor's son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and made to join the ranks of the Roman Empire's legendary gladiators, who fought to the death for the amusement of cheering throngs.

At the film's conclusion, Maximus gets his revenge in a one-on-one gladiator duel with Commodus, whom he kills before succumbing to his own wounds. He then joins his murdered wife and son in the afterlife in a tear-jerking finale that decidedly did not appear to be setting up a continuation of the story.

However, it was announced in November 2018 that Scott was back on board to direct Gladiator 2, working from a script by Peter Craig (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2). Fans want to know: how will Scott and Craig follow up their epic picture, are any of the original cast members returning, and when can we feast our eyes on the unexpected sequel to one of the best pictures of its decade? Here's everything we know about Gladiator 2.

What is Gladiator 2's release date?

There has been no formal release date announced for Gladiator 2, which is still in the early production stages. One thing we do know, however: Scott has a lot on his plate — and we mean a lot. The legendary director is currently attached to no fewer than four feature films beyond Gladiator 2: an untitled prequel to his classic Alien, the historical drama The Last Duel, the political thriller Queen and Country, and the war epic Battle of Britain. On top of that, he's directing episodes of his TNT sci-fi series Raised by Wolves, and as a producer, he's attached to too many projects to properly list here.

Scott famously likes to keep busy, but he's just as famously a master craftsman who remains in high gear for the duration of any project he takes on. All of his features are currently in the scripting phase, so when it comes to which he'll tackle first, it may just be a question of which will be the first one completed. If we had to venture a guess, we think it seems likely that he'll knock out the Alien prequel (which he's been keen to get into production) before moving on to Gladiator 2, but even in that best-case scenario, we're not likely to see the film before 2022 at the earliest. 

Who is in Gladiator 2's cast?

As of now, there's been no word on who Scott and the film's producers are eyeing for Gladiator 2's cast, but the burning question on fans' minds is whether Russell Crowe will return in any capacity. One scrapped screenplay for the film (which, oddly enough, was penned by musician Nick Cave) saw Maximus resurrected as a Christian soldier. That project would have featured Crowe as Maximus briefly spending some time in the afterlife before being shuffled back onto the mortal coil (where he presumably would have been played by a different actor). Although Craig is starting from scratch for Gladiator 2's story, this early draft at least illustrates one way in which Crowe might possibly make an appearance.

Another would be through the use of flashbacks — although it's worth noting that Crowe is now 20 years older than he was when the first film was shot. Having said that, many recent blockbusters (particularly the films of Marvel Studios) have shown that this is no longer the issue it once was, as the art of using CGI to digitally de-age actors has pretty much been perfected. It remains to be seen whether the film's plot will require an appearance by Maximus, and when it comes to that, we have only the scantest details.

What's the plot of Gladiator 2?

When the project was announced, Deadline reported that Gladiator 2 will shift focus away from Maximus to follow the story of Lucius, the nephew of Commodus, as an adult. In the original film, Lucius was a boy of perhaps 10, who came under threat from Commodus when his mother Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) displayed opposition to her brother's corruption. Fans will remember that young Lucius, who was portrayed by Spencer Treat Clark, was present for the final battle between Maximus and Commodus — and it's safe to say that the fight's outcome would have had a profound effect on the boy.

We don't yet know what plot beats this Lucius-focused narrative will hit, but since the film is called Gladiator 2 (or will at least, presumably, have the word "Gladiator" in its title), it's not too presumptuous to think that Lucius may himself be forced to fight in the Colosseum, perhaps due to his lineage as the nephew of the vile and corrupt Commodus. It's also not known whether Clark will reprise his role, although recent precedent suggests that it's not out of the question; the actor also appeared as a child in M. Night Shyamalan's 2000 feature Unbreakable, and returned to his role as an adult for the 2019 sequel Glass.

When does Gladiator 2 take place?

The time period setting of Gladiator 2 is one detail that actually has been made public at this early stage. After the project's announcement, producer Walter F. Parkes was grilled for details by the pop culture mavens at HeyUGuys, and he appeared to dodge the question before blurting out one crucial aspect of the flick's story. "We're working with Ridley, that's one we wouldn't touch unless we felt in a way to do it was legitimate," Parkes said, sprinkling some croutons on that word salad. He then continued, "It picks up the story 30 years later... 25 years later."

So, there you have it: Gladiator 2 will take place 25 to 30 years after the events of the original, which lends credence to the report that an adult Lucius will be at the center of the story. Interestingly, as pointed out by A.V. Club, the first film ended with the implied restoration of the Roman Republic, which absolutely did not happen, historically speaking. Since Gladiator 2 will pick up the story a few decades down the road, it'll be interesting to see if the film continues down the path of indulging in revisionist history, or if the first film's conclusion is retconned in some fashion.

Is there a trailer for Gladiator 2 yet?

Unfortunately, with no script, cast, or production team yet in place, it's going to be some time before we see a trailer for Gladiator 2. While Deadline's 2018 report opined that the flick could "happen very quickly," we've seen no movement on getting the movie before the cameras in the months since. And though Scott has presumably been hard at work on Raised by Wolves since it was announced in October 2018, that series doesn't yet have a premiere date — which implies that Sir Ridley's first foray into television is taking up a bit more time than he might have expected.

Even if the stars all align and Gladiator 2 enters production, say, early next year, we're still not likely to see even a teaser trailer before 2021 at the earliest. If Scott decides to take on another of his plethora of feature film projects first, it could be significantly later than that.

For the time being, we'll just have to wait to see how it all plays out. It might be a very long time before we get an idea of what Scott and company have in store for us, but fans can at least be secure in this knowledge: they will have their Gladiator 2, in this life or the next.