Gladiator 2 first look images reveal Easter Eggs to Russell Crowe's Gladiator

Paul Mescal in Gladiator 2
Paul Mescal in Gladiator 2 (Image credit: AIDAN MONAGHAN/PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

Who's ready to step back into the Colosseum? After 24 years, Ridley Scott's Best Picture-winning movie Gladiator is getting a sequel, and now we have our first look images of Gladiator 2 ahead of the movie’s November 22 release date, original shared by Vanity Fair

While the 2024 new movie is going to be missing the original's star, Russell Crowe (his Maximus had a hero's death in the original), on inspection of these first photos from the movie we see a number of Easter Eggs to the original movie, particularly from new star Paul Mescal.

Mescal is set to play Lucius, who was a boy in Gladiator, played by Spencer Treat Clark. Lucius is the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and nephew of Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), but he admired Maximus in the story. In the Vanity Fair preview article, we learn that after the events of the first movie, Lucius was sent away by his mother to the region of Numidia in Northern Africa, which was just out of Rome's reach to keep him safe. Lucius creates his own life and family, though his resentment for being sent away grows along with his strength. However, his life is upended when Rome invades, and it appears Lucius is put into the arena, where he remembers a thing or two from what he saw of Maximus.

In one image we see that Lucius does the same pre-fight ritual that Maximus did in the first movie — rubbing his hands in the dirt of the arena. In another, we see him looking at Maximus' armor from the first movie, which is displayed in a crypt (presumably of the Colosseum). While Lucius only had one actual meeting with Maximus in the movie, it was clear he admired him, both for his skill in the arena and with how his mother talked about him as the savior of Rome. So it is little surprise that he would look to emulate him when he is forced to fight.

Those aren't the only images that we get to see, as the Vanity Fair article gives some in-depth details to the new movie. Among them we get our first look at Pedro Pascal playing the Roman general Marcus Acacius, who is described as "a man in deep regret with his life and doesn't know where to go with it," per director Scott. There is also the first look at Fred Hechinger and Joseph Quinn as the co-Emperors Caracall and Geta, who oversee a decaying and corrupt Rome; Connie Nielsen as Lucilla, the only actor from the original returning for the sequel; and Denzel Washington as Marcinus, an arms dealer with a stable of gladiators. 

Gladiator 2 is set to premiere exclusively in movie theaters worldwide on November 22. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.