Ridley Scott has revealed how he would bring Maximus back from the dead in a sequel to Gladiator. In the director's Oscar-winning epic, Russell Crowe’s brave General Maximus survives his betrayal and attempted murder at the hands of Joaquin Phoenix’s scheming Commodus and is metaphorically resurrected as a gladiatorial warrior who rises to become even more popular than the emperor. Maximus goes on to seek revenge against Commodus and ultimately dies in the arena, but not before triumphing over the man who killed his family and destroyed his life.
Maximus’ death at the end of Gladiator would seem to have closed the door on the possibility of a sequel, and indeed to this day there is still no Gladiator 2. In fact, though Ridley Scott has no known plans to make a sequel to Gladiator, he does have thoughts about how Maximus could be literally resurrected for a second film.
Strangely enough, there is already a script for a Gladiator sequel out there in the world. About ten years ago musician Nick Cave decided he would have a go at penning a Gladiator 2 and what he came up with, according to those who’ve read the script, is about as bonkers as you would expect a Gladiator 2 script written by Nick Cave to be. Ridley Scott spoke about Cave’s script in a recent interview with ME.MOVIES and talked about how it would have solved the problem of bringing Russell Crowe back from the dead:
You know I can bring him back, I know how to bring him back. I talked him [Crowe] into how I bring him back. I used the [body] of a dying warrior as a portal to bring somebody back.
In Cave’s script, the absolutely dead Maximus bounces around the afterlife for awhile, meeting various Roman gods and such (it bears noting that the last time Scott dealt with gods it didn't go so well), before finally getting his chance to return to the real world when he rises from the body of a slain Christian martyr (the "portal" referred to by Scott). Maximus then discovers that Lucius, the son of his ex-lover Lucilla (played by Connie Nielsen in the original Gladiator), has been going around massacring Christians at an alarming rate.
Maximus hooks up with a group of embattled Christians and after initially trying to convince them not to fight, winds up helping them form an army. Along the way Maximus discovers that his son Marius, who was supposed to have died in the first film, is actually alive and now a Christian. Maximus also re-connects with Djimon Hounsou’s character Juba. The story builds to a pair of insane action sequences, one involving a flooded gladiatorial arena where men on ships fight alligators, the other a final battle sequence where Lucius kills Juba, then gets hacked to shreds by Maximus and finally killed by an arrow from Marius.
In his interview with MOVIES.ME, Ridley Scott said the script described above is “on a shelf at Dreamworks” somewhere. And it will almost certainly remain on that shelf, largely because in Scott's words Russell Crowe is "getting on a bit now." It sounds like what Nick Cave dreamed up for Gladiator 2 would make for a visually incredible and action-packed movie, albeit one that stretches the limits of credulity, but the chances of us ever seeing that movie are almost zero. Ridley Scott is pretty focused on making Alien movies these days, not to mention his upcoming Battle of Britain film, and likely could never find the time to revisit another of his famous films.
- Alien: Covenant (2017) release date: May 19, 2017