MOVIE NEWS – Despite the excitement surrounding Paul Mescal, who will star in Gladiator 2, Denzel Washington’s character will compensate for Maximus’ absence.
Gladiator 2 will not feature the return of Russell Crowe’s iconic character, Maximus. But Denzel Washington’s role will provide what it takes to fill that void. The long-awaited sequel is scheduled to hit theaters on November 22, 2024. Filming on the film finally resumes after the SAG-AFTRA strike ends. The resumption of filming on the Ridley Scott-directed sequel has reignited excitement with new and previously revealed details about the cast and story of Gladiator 2. Among them is the introduction of Denzel Washington’s mysterious character.
Gladiator 2 will pick up more than 20 years after the end of the original Gladiator, and the plot will revolve around Lucilla’s son, Lucius.
After being moved by Maximus’ sacrifice at the end of the first film, Lucius decides not to take on the role of Caesar. Instead, he continues the legacy of the hero of doom. The main character of the sequel will be Paul Mescal, who appeared in Aftersun and will take over the role of the grown-up Lucius. This is one of the most exciting things about Gladiator 2. However, while Mescal’s Lucius is the new main character of the film, Denzel Washington’s supporting character seems to be a natural replacement for Crowe’s Maximus in terms of his role in the plot.
How does Denzel Washington’s Gladiator 2 character compare to Maximus?
Denzel Washington’s role in Gladiator 2 is still unnamed. But some exciting details about his character have already been revealed. Washington will play a former gladiator. He earned his freedom by fighting in the arena long before the events of the sequel. In the Roman Empire, there were a few ways for a slave to earn his freedom. Fighting as a gladiator and surviving was one such path. The biggest thing in common with Russell Crowe’s character is that they are both gladiators. However, Denzel’s warrior shares further, more profound similarities with Maximus regarding their connection to the Empire.
The latest clues about Denzel Washington’s role as Gladiator 2 suggest that after gaining his freedom, he became wealthy by supplying weapons and supplies to the Roman army and now has his own school of warriors.
This would seem to draw more parallels between Washington’s character and Gladiator’s Proximo, played by Oliver Reed in the 2000 film. However, the anger that Washington’s character harbours against the Empire that enslaved him and forced him to fight in the arena makes him a rebellious figure. He openly questions the ways of the Roman Empire. Because of this point of view, Washington’s role – despite being a supporting character – is closer to what Maximus represents in the original film.
Why Gladiator 2’s new characters are better than Maximus’ return?
Gladiator is mainly sustained by the strength of Maximus’ character and Crowe’s performance. So Gladiator 2 could challenge to fill that void. However, since the character died at the end of the original film, Maximus’ return would require a forced twist, backstory, visions, or flashbacks. That wouldn’t be the best solution. With or without the return of Crowe Maximus, he still plays a role in the sequel through his influence on Lucius’ story. And the new characters provide much more compelling, direct conflicts for Lucius’ journey.
Setting the story 20 years later and adding new characters brings new complexity and perspectives to a different landscape than the one presented in the first film and gives the film what it needs to overcome the absence of Maximus.
In other words, the characters in Gladiator 2 make it a very different movie than its predecessor. Ultimately, this creates a much more exciting way to expand the tale. Without simply rehashing Maximus’ story or using Crowe’s presence as a crutch.