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The First ‘Gladiator 2’ Trailer Is Epic And Absolutely Stunning

Paul Mescal battles Pedro Pascal and a rhino in first ‘Gladiator II’ trailer

Paul Mescal plays Lucius in Gladiator II from Paramount Pictures.

Paul Mescal plays Lucius in Gladiator II from Paramount Pictures. Aidan Monaghan/Paramount PicturesCNN — 

Prepare for an epic battle. The first trailer for “Gladiator II” has arrived.

The sequel to Ridley Scott’s 2000 blockbuster stars Paul Mescal, who takes over for Russell Crowe.

Mescal plays Lucius, son of Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen and the late Lucius Verus. He is also the nephew of Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix in the original film.

The crowd is chanting. The dual emperors of Rome are thirsty for blood. Step back into the coliseum, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for glorious combat.

After a bunch of teaser images and previews have been released over the past few weeks, the first trailer for Gladiator II is out this morning and it’s absolutely stunning. I have not been this hyped for a movie about Rome since the first trailer for the original Gladiator dropped nearly 25 years ago. (I’ve actually purchased that film in 4K Blu-ray format to watch again for the first time in years before the sequel comes out).

The sequel to Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix’s epic historical drama picks up years after the first movie, and follows Lucius (Paul Mescal) the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and nephew to the first film’s villain, Commodus (Phoenix).

Lucius was a boy in that film, played by Spencer Treat Clark. His mother shipped him off to Africa and out of Rome’s clutches, but he has returned in the sequel as a gladiator where he meets the powerful and scheming Macrinus (Denzel Washington) and General Marcus Acacius, who once served under General Maximus (Crowe).

This looks every bit as epic and grand as the first film, with an even more star-studded cast. Mescal, a young Irish actor, is the least well-known among the leads but director Ridley Scott became a fan of his after watching Normal People. Apparently the two only spoke for half an hour before Scott decided to cast him.

Mescal said he didn’t want to train to look like an underwear model, focusing on fight choreography instead: “I just wanted to be big and strong and look like somebody who can cause a bit of damage,” he told Vanity Fair.

Nielsen, who reprises her role as Lucilla, said of Pascal, “What a gift that guy is. Even to play with, to work with, I just absolutely love him, and he’s so perfect for this role. He is one of those rare actors who really has heart, soul, and at the same time this incredible gift of transformation.”

Rounding out the cast are Fred Hechinger (Thelma) as Emperor Caracalla and Joseph Quinn (Stranger Things) as Emperor Geta. The two come off as rather unhinged in the trailer.

For his part, Scott says this sequel means a great deal to him especially after giving up the chance to direct so many of his other classics. “I mean, I should have done the sequels to Alien and to Blade Runner. You change over the years. At that time, I didn’t want to go through it again.” James Cameron ended up directing the sequel to Alien and Dune director, Denis Villeneuve, directed Blade Runner 2049. Back in the 80s, as a newcomer, “I was never told or asked. You can imagine I wasn’t happy.”

Gladiator II opens in theaters on November 22nd. Along with Deadpool & Wolverine, this is one of my most-anticipated films in the back half of 2024.

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