Pedro Pascal in Gladiator II(l), Statue of Augustus Caesar(c), Denzel Washington in Gladiator II(r)

Gilmanshin/Shutterstock Paramount Pictures/YouTube (Licensed)

Alt-right Roman Empire fanboys are having a crisis over the new ‘Gladiator’

Many complaints seem to forget the point of the original.


Mikael Thalen


A very specific subset of X users has a very specific gripe.

That’s about as funny as you can get.

Alt-right Roman Statue avatar guys, those who adore the Roman Empire for its virtuosity and lasting impact on Western civilization, think the most Roman of all Roman movie franchises, Gladiator, has fallen.

“Thinly veiled anti-Western civilization nonsense,” wrote an X user who cosplays as Imperator Claudius Gothicus Augustus online.

His comment came in response to Daily Roman Updates, who lamented the tone of the new trailer as compared (in his mind) to the previous version.

The trailer for the long-awaited sequel to director Ridley Scott’s 2000 Oscar-winning film dropped on Tuesday.

High among the complaints from the Roman Statue avi crowd was the fact that although the film’s score is composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer, the trailer uses the song “No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

“They didn’t have hip hop in ancient Rome,” shared Daily Roman Updates.

Added another before the trailer launched, “Gladiator 2 panders to blacks: Emperor Septimus Severus will be played by Denzel Washington. Severus was half Punic (Semitic) and half Roman (Italic).”

The account turned out to be wrong, as Washington does not play an emperor.

But while the fascination with the Roman Empire has become a meme of late, Roman Statue avatar guys have been around for the past decade. Appearing on the scene around the same time as the alt-right, they use a professed love of Roman history to push “Western” ideals and aesthetics, thinly veiled cover for far-right and white nationalist views.

Or, to put it another way, one of their biggest fanboys is the site’s owner: Elon Musk.

Musk responded repeatedly to some of the accounts, calling the complaints “100%” with an emoji. He also blamed the trailer on wokeness.

But as with much outrage on X, none of it made much sense.

While the first Gladiator has also become a right-wing obsession, it too was a critique of the Roman empire. Its main character, Maximus, leads a rebellion against it over its excesses.

And people seem to have forgotten even more about the original. The first trailer for the first movie had a similar score.

“I distinctly remember ‘Bawitdaba’ by Kid Rock being used for the trailer for the original…” one user replied.

And while Roman Statue Twitter adores the Roman Empire, it did have a much-publicized fall, which this sequel of Gladiator appears to explore.

Dramatizing that instead of romanticizing the earlier era seems to have struck a chord.

We go from ‘There once was a dream that was Rome.’ And now we have ‘Rome must fall. I just need only give it a push’,” wrote Daily Roman Empire.

Their attitude was best exemplified by Malaysia-based right-wing commentator Ian Miles Cheong, who also said that the trailer was “woke” for focusing on the collapse of Rome.

“The message in Gladiator 2 seems to be that Rome is bad and must collapse. It seems like anti-Western, woke propaganda buried beneath a pseudo historical story,” Cheong said. “It’s also afflicted by the Jay-Z movie rap garbage that they ruin every trailer with. Rap is degenerate.”

Yet once again, among the many supporters of Cheong’s assessment were those who pushed back by noting that Rome did, in fact, fall.

“Rome fell, son. Movie looks pretty good by the trailer,” user PimShimps replied.

And given the film’s legacy, director, and cast, which includes Pedro Pascal and Washington, it’s unlikely that complaints online will have much effect on the movie’s success.

Gladiator 2 will be released in November.

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