Paul Mescal and Pedro Pascal are buff and bloodied in nail-biting Gladiator II trailer

Paul Mescal (left) and Pedro Pascal (right) star in the Gladiators 2 trailer. (Paramount)

The new Gladiator 2 trailer shows Paul Mescal going head-to-head with Pedro Pascal in a bloody fight.

After months of teasing, during which fans were treated to some shirtless thirst traps from All of Us Strangers star Mescal, Gladiator II‘s latest trailer has arrived.

Set several decades after the first epic historical drama, which was released in 2000, the sequel features Mescal as main character Lucius, the son of Gladiator OG Lucilla Verus (Connie Nielsen, reprising her role).

He’s also the grandson of Rome’s former emperor Marcus Aurelis, played by Richard Harris in the first outing).

Lucius is living in relative tranquillity with his wife and child, estranged from his mother and surviving away from the Roman Empire. That is until The Last of Us star Pascal – playing Roman general Marcus Acacius – storms the city, taking him as a slave and forcing him to become a gladiator.

As he prepares to battle Marcus – presumably to the death – he’s also confronting the rule of emperors Geta (Stranger Things’ Joseph Quinn) and Caracalla (Fred Hechinger, of The White Lotus fame).

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To make matters worse. arriving in the arena for his first battle, he sees his mother – a shock, considering he has been none-the-wiser about whether she was alive or not. Oh, and she’s in love with Marcus.

In the latest look at Ridley Scott’s drama, Mescal’s Lucius is left battered and brutalised by his captivity, with the film promising some of the year’s very best sword-fight scenes. At the end of the clip, Mescal goes for the jugular, threatening to decapitate one of his arena rivals.

Oh, and it’s not just sword-based violence here, either: one scene sees Lucius charged at by a rhino, in what is one of the trailer’s most captivating moments.

While Pascal has described his character as “a very good general, which can mean a very good killer,” it’s Lucius who has an unsatiated fury to fight everyone in his way.

“It’s very ‘angry young man’ drama in that sense,” Mescal recently said of his character.

“He can see the way Rome has kind of fallen in on itself… Rome represents all the personal neglect that he felt as a child. Suddenly, he’s thrust back into that world and has direct proximity to all of the things he thinks he hates and doesn’t feel attached to any more.”

Pedro Pascal plays a vicious Roman general in the Gladiator sequel. (Getty)

The list of people who are a thorn in Lucius’s side includes Denzel Washington’s character Macrinus, a wealthy power broker who keeps a stable full of gladiators. According to Scott, he’s “pretty f**king cruel” to those fighting in the arena.

The film also features gay British veteran of stage and screen Derek Jacobi reprising his role as Gracchus, a member of the Roman senate.

The trailer alone is a pretty wild ride, promising to live up to the heart-pounding brutality seen in the first film. By the looks of it, a naff sequel for sequel’s sake is absolutely not what Alien and Thelma & Louise director Scott has planned.

Gladiator 2 is due to be released on 22 November.

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