Movie Reviews

Gladiator 2's "New Maximus" Shows Why Russell Crowe Doesn't Need To Return


  • Paul Mescal shines as Lucius in Gladiator 2, resembling Maximus, gearing up for a blockbuster debut with high expectations.
  • Gladiator 2 follows a new cast in a lavish production aiming to surpass the original’s box office success, building anticipation.
  • With Russell Crowe’s absence, Gladiator 2 focuses on Mescal’s rise as the leading star to create a fresh identity for the sequel.

New set photos from Gladiator 2 show the long-awaited sequel’s Maximus replacement, proving there’s no need for Russell Crowe’s return. Ridley Scott’s original Gladiator film sported Russell Crowe as the general turned gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius, a role that solidified him as one of the world’s most prominent movie stars. The character has a unique blend of charisma and physicality that few stars could pull off, begging the question of whether Crowe would be returning for a sequel for years despite his character being dead. Now, Gladiator 2 is in development with an all-new cast.

Gladiator 2 is one of 2024’s most expensive movies, hoping to make up for its enormous budget by making waves at the box office upon its November 22 release. The original film is widely considered one of the best Ancient Rome movies ever and some of Ridley Scott’s best work, grossing $465 million upon its release. Gladiator 2 will have to surpass the original and then some to make a profit, putting pressure on young star Paul Mescal to deliver a leading performance worthy of the title. Russell Crowe set a high standard, but Mescal seems capable.

Paul Mescal’s Lucius In Gladiator 2 Looks Very Similar To Russell Crowe’s Maximus

BTS Photos Show Paul Mescal Playing Lucius In The Long-Awaited Sequel

Custom image by Ryan Northrup

Set photos of Paul Mescal on the set of Gladiator 2 surfaced on the internet, and the resemblance to Crowe’s Maximus is impressive. Paul Mescal is a fascinating actor who’s defined the early stages of his career with subtle characters experiencing internal struggles in masterful independent films like Aftersun and All of Us Strangers. Gladiator 2 will be his first opportunity to shine on the blockbuster stage, putting challenging pressure on him, especially given how different the performance will be from what audiences have grown accustomed to with him.

Paul Mescal is playing the character Lucius, who Spencer Treat Clark previously played in the 2000 film. Lucius was the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), with the new movie likely picking up about 20 years later. Photos show Mescal in Roman armor, with the same breastplate design Crowe’s Maximus wore in the first film. With his haircut and shredded physique, Paul Mescal looks fantastic, building anticipation for the sequel. Despite being one of the most-anticipated movies of 2024, there still hasn’t been a trailer for the historical epic.

Paul Mescal’s Maximus Parallels Prove Gladiator 2 Doesn’t Need A Russell Crowe Return

Russell Crowe’s Return Could Detract From Paul Mescal’s Status As The New Lead

Aside from Connie Nielsen returning as Lucilla, Gladiator 2 boasts an impressive but entirely new cast, including Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, and Joseph Quinn. Rumors of a Russell Crowe have surrounded the film since its development was announced, but the possibility now seems even more redundant. While he could appear in some sort of vision or flashback, the film is better off moving forward without resurrecting its previous lead. This way, the new movie can focus more on Paul Mescal as its hero.

Without bringing Crowe back,
Gladiator 2
can build up Mescal’s Lucius to have the caliber of screen draw Crowe had in the original.

The new photos indicate that, like with the original, Gladiator 2 will be a film that’s centered around its star. Part of the appeal of the original was that Russell Crowe was entirely believable as a leader and as a warrior, with a particular magnetic aura that draws in other characters as well as audiences. In a sense, there’s a danger in bringing back a character like that, as he can overshadow anything new they’d try to accomplish. Without bringing Crowe back, Gladiator 2 can build up Mescal’s Lucius to have the caliber of screen draw Crowe had in the original.


Gladiator 2 Can Repeat The Original’s Great Twist Ending Trick

Gladiator 2 will etch its own identity by adopting an original story, but it still has the perfect opportunity to repeat the original’s ending twist.

Why Lucius Looks So Much Like Maximus In Gladiator 2

Lucius Likely Takes Inspiration From Maximus

Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark) in Gladiator looking worried

Story details about Gladiator 2’s Lucius provide some insights into what his arc could look like, on top of what’s known about the character from the original film. As a child, Lucius greatly admired Maximus, even more so than his own uncle, Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Due to some conflict in Rome, presumably surrounding the succession of the Empire, which should’ve seen Lucius placed on the throne, he ends up away from the city and living in the wilderness for years. Lucius likely takes inspiration from Maximus in his path back to Rome.

Details reveal that Lucius will be working his way through the gladiatorial games to help his mother, who will still be in Rome, in some way. This means Lucius will have a different motivation than Maximus but will attempt to achieve his goals through similar means. Given how much Lucius loved Maximus, it makes sense that he’d model his appearance off of the man. Gladiator 2 is sure to be a visual spectacle, with Paul Mescal’s performance being the most significant

Gladiator 2 Temp Movie Logo

Gladiator 2

Gladiator 2 is the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s award-winning film Gladiator from 2000. Scott returns to direct the sequel, with Paul Mescal staring as Lucius, alongside Denzel Washington and Barry Keoghan as the villain Emperor Geta. Gladiator 2 had been stuck in development hell for years before a script written by David Scarpa finally moved forward.

Release Date
November 22, 2024

factor for its success.

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