Gladiator 2’s Villain Plan Is Already Giving The Sequel A Commodus Problem

While it’s exciting to see more news on Gladiator 2, the movie’s main villain, Emperor Geta (Fred Hechinger) could present a problem for the film. Gladiator is a classic movie that will be remembered for ages to come. Now, over 20 years later, it’s finally getting a sequel. But the problem with producing this movie so long after the original is that expectations are high, meaning that small missteps that might be forgiven by audiences are more noticeable. This is especially true with the sequel being produced by Gladiator’s original director, making it worrying that the movie’s villain might already be a stumbling block for the sequel.


The original Gladiator came out in 2000 and followed the efforts of Maximus (Russell Crowe) as he tried to avenge his murdered family. The cast of Gladiator 2 will depict events that take place over 20 years after the original and, although story details are scarce, primarily follows Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark and Paul Mescal), who hero-worshipped Maximus. After Maximus’ death, Gladiator 2 shows that Lucius has taken up the general’s legacy and abandoned his birthright as Caesar, leaving two brutal co-emperors, Geta and Caracalla (Joseph Quinn), on the throne instead. But despite his efforts, Lucius’ political ties will come back to haunt him in the film.

Related: Gladiator 2: Release Date, Cast & Everything We Know

Gladiator 2’s Emperor Geta Risks Being A Commodus Clone

Joaquin Phoenix and Connie Nielsen in Gladiator

From the few reports regarding Gladiator 2’s casting and story, by all accounts, Fred Hechinger’s Emperor Geta is the main antagonist, despite being a co-emperor with his brother. But both men are going to be characterized as violent and potentially despotic rulers with a penchant for brutality. Unfortunately, if this is true, both men, and especially Geta, would be nearly identical to Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), another cruel, powerful figure. To make sure the sequel does not stand in the shadow of the original, the film will need to verify that its villains are not carbon copies of Commodus.

How Gladiator 2 Can Avoid Repeating The Same Commodus Story

Joaquin Phoenix and Spencer Treat-Clark in Gladiator

Despite the worrying similarities between the three antagonistic emperors, there are a couple of options that may differentiate Gladiator from Gladiator 2. First of all, there’s the historical context of Geta and Caracalla being co-emperors, a fact that was taken from actual Roman history. In real life, the two brothers were hopelessly paranoid of each other and never managed to jointly rule, creating a tense political climate that would easily make Gladiator 2 very different from the first movie, especially if there’s even more political intrigue between the two and their followers.

Additionally, Lucius’ position between Geta and Caracalla is likely to create a very different story than the one that was largely a cat-and-mouse game between Commodus and Maximus. With Lucius caught in the middle of these two at-odds emperors, as well as his rejection of his birthright, Gladiator 2 could very well set its protagonist up for a strong royal ascension plot. Especially if Geta and Caracalla are aware of Lucius’ potential claim to the throne, this could bring added tension to the film and overall make for a very different movie.

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