Gladiator 2 Puts Even More Pressure On Napoleon To Be Great, And Not Just Because Of Ridley Scott



  • The success or failure of Napoleon will significantly impact the reception of Gladiator 2 since they share the same director, writer, and genre of historical epics.
  • The script for Napoleon needs to impress in order to maintain confidence in David Scarpa as the writer for Gladiator 2, which has faced development challenges for over two decades. The success of Napoleon will indicate if Scarpa was the right choice for the sequel.
  • There is reason for optimism regarding both movies. Initial reactions to “Napoleon” have been positive, and the meticulous crafting of the story for Gladiator 2 bodes well for its own potential success.



Ridley Scott is behind the upcoming and highly-anticipated movies Napoleon and Gladiator 2, but pressure has been heaped upon the former for reasons beyond just sharing the same director. Despite having worked as one of Hollywood’s most esteemed directors for 45 years, Ridley Scott has not slowed down, and remains as prolific as ever. As testament to his enduring work ethic, Ridley Scott has two mega blockbusters on the horizon. Napoleon, starring Joaquin Phoenix, releases in November 2023. As the long-awaited sequel to one of cinema’s true milestones, Gladiator 2 releases in November 2024.

If Napoleon should receive negative reviews from critics and audiences, or perform poorly at the box office, then the prognosis will not be good for Gladiator 2. Gladiator 2 faces heaps more pressure thanks to the unprecedented success of the first Gladiator film in 2000. Scott, as revered as he is, has been known to misfire on occasion, and making a sequel to such a beloved classic is surely a risk. Since both movies are historical epics directed by Ridley Scott, Napoleon will inevitably become a box office barometer for Gladiator 2. That comparison will be even more intense due to a factor completely separate from Scott.

Related: Ridley Scott’s Napoleon: Release Date, Cast, Story & Everything We Know

Napoleon & Gladiator 2 Have The Same Writer – So The Former’s Story Needs To Be Good

Joaquin Phoenix looking worried as Napoleon Bonaparte.

Not only are Gladiator 2 and Napoleon both historical epics, and not only do both movies put Ridley Scott in the director’s chair, but Gladiator 2 and Napoleon also share David Scarpa as a screenwriter. Napoleon’s success – or lack thereof – will be a strong indicator for how good Gladiator 2 will be, thanks to the same creative team working on both of them. If Napoleon comes up short due to a lackluster story, alarm bells will immediately start ringing a whole 12 months before Gladiator 2 even hits a movie theater. It is imperative, therefore, that Napoleon impresses in 2023 – not only for itself, but also for Gladiator 2.

If Napoleon’s script fails to deliver on the hype, questions will be raised over whether Scarpa was the right choice as Ridley Scott’s creative partner for Gladiator 2. This is especially pertinent considering how Gladiator 2 has been trapped in development hell for over two decades due to difficulty with scripts. Ridley Scott’s sequel is unquestionably the harder nut to crack, so if Napoleon‘s story does not deliver, that would send a clear warning regarding the even trickier Gladiator 2.

Related: What Epic Battles Can Gladiator 2 Actually Use (According To Real Life)

Why Napoleon & Gladiator 2 Will Both Likely Succeed

Split image of Maximus in Gladiator and Paul Mescal

Despite David Scarpa’s short and inconsistent career, there is more reason for optimism than pessimism when it comes to his two upcoming blockbusters with Ridley Scott. Initial reaction to Napoleon has been largely positive. The trailers for Napoleon have released to widespread intrigue and excitement, especially regarding Vanessa Kirby’s role as Empress Joséphine. Joaquin Phoenix, meanwhile, is currently enjoying a cinematic hot-streak after Joker and Beau Is Afraid, and audiences will remember how well he performed under Scott’s direction as Commodus in Gladiator.

Regarding Gladiator 2 specifically, a story had been in the works since the first movie was released 23 years ago. Numerous screenwriters and producers have been involved along the way. An original script by Peter Craig was finished by the end of the 2010s, only for Scott to hire Scarpa to rewrite the whole thing – a process which itself took several years (via Variety). This dedication goes to show that Gladiator 2‘s story has been meticulously crafted and re-crafted, which should give audiences hope, regardless of how Napoleon performs.