Ridley Scott thinks Joaquin Phoenix’s Gladiator character is misunderstood

Commodus and Maximus

Titan of the silver screen Ridley Scott has brough us some of the best movies ever made and some of the greatest bad guys to ever menace audiences. None, though, save the Xenomorph from the Alien movies, are quite as terrifying as Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus – the power-hungry, patricidal emperor in the historical epic Gladiator.

Despite Commodus’s laundry list of crimes – including murder, betrayal, treason and fancying his sister – Scott seems to have a soft spot for the treasonous tyrant. In an interview with Deadline, Scott said that no one is totally bad adding that audiences forget how Commodus suffered during the film just because he killed Russell Crowe’s Maximus.

“I always got amazed that people thought that Joaquin Phoenix was an evil man in Gladiator because he killed Russell [Crowe] at the end,” he explained. “They forgot the scene which was maybe the best in the entire movie, where his father said you will not be Prince of Rome. And he gives him a beautiful speech and scene, saying, which older, wiser man will take my place? It’s crushing. Don’t forget those scenes, right?”

During the same interview, Scott gave an update on the long-gestating Gladiator sequel. He claimed that the script has been written and that it will be a proper continuation of the original action movie.

“It’s already been written. We have a good footprint, a good, logical place to go,” he said. “You can’t just do another Gladiator type movie. You’ve got to follow… there’s enough components from the first one to pick up the ball and continue it.”

Talks for a Gladiator sequel began almost immediately after the first movie debuted. Original plans are rumoured to have been quite magical, with the film switching genre to become a fantasy movie. Apparently, this hypothetical Gladiator sequel would have seen Maximus become a champion of the gods and he’d be resurrected to fight in the biggest wars across history. Yeah, I wish we’d got this version too.

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Tom Percival

Editor

Updated: Nov 15, 2021


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