Who could forget The Gladiator? The violence. The driving vengeance. A crazy Roman emperor. The epic feel. And especially the music.
Recently, it’s been revealed that Ridley Scott is going forward with a sequel to the classic movie. Now, to anyone who’s seen the movie, you might be scratching your head. Whether this news excites you or makes you roll your eyes, there’s one big problem that makes this idea a little tricky: both the villain and the hero are dead.
As much, or as little, as we like a sequel – we are immediately presented with a conundrum. How can we have a sequel if every central character involved in the story’s conflict died at the end? And, to be quite honest, the first movie was self-contained. It committed the worse sin a movie could possibly make – they didn’t leave room for a sequel.
Well, one option we have is to focus less on the characters and more on the movie’s title: Gladiator.
The obvious option is to keep the movie more of a spiritual sequel. They might explore the aftermath – what happened after Maximus and Commodus killed each other in the arena. There’s plenty to explore. After all, Rome just lost its Emperor. Commodus had brought the Empire on the brink of ruin trying to pay for the fights. What’s even better is that the original Gladiator had obviously set itself in an alternate timeline since the movie was not historically accurate. The writers will have more flexibility in putting together what happens next.
In this option, the arena and gladiatorial fights don’t have to be central since it’s a follow-up of the story and dealing with the consequences of a major gladiatorial battle.
The sequel could concern a whole new character involved in an entirely new circumstance. Completely separate from Maximus and Commodus. It could even take place in another Roman era. The one thing it must have in common with the previous movie is that it needs to revolve around a Gladiator. Or at least a person who eventually becomes one.
The idea will be less about the storyline of the original Gladiator and centered more on the idea of a Gladiator itself. The last movie explored the idea of freedom and showing us the parallels between the physical shackles of his gladiatorial status and the metaphorical shackles placed on him by his quest for revenge. How he can’t die – and will do anything to live until he gets the chance to kill Commodus. The writers could explore another aspect like the idea of death or the idea of killing for sport.
I, personally, prefer the second option. Why? Mainly because I think the original movie ended perfectly. Everything was there that needed to be there. Re-opening that world with a new story might easily delude the original…or worse…outright ruin it.
The second option allows for a new approach, new characters, and a whole new story. Not to mention, it frees up the writers since Gladiator 2 wouldn’t have to carry the baggage from the first movie.
So, is Gladiator 2 a good idea? Well, it depends on the writers…and on the approach, they decide to take.