Spartacus War of the Damned Gladiators

I Don’t Know How to Feel About This Hit Starz Revival

My heart will never beat for another.

We are in the age of reboots, revivals, and sequels. Most of the time I am here for it. I love that we will soon have a new Indiana Jones movie. I’m beyond excited that we’ve got superhero media coming out of our ears. Watching the trailer for That 90s Show sent me on a weepy nostalgic journey. Don’t get me started on all of my Fast X feelings.

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However ecstatic I can get about continuing my favorite franchises, sometimes enough is enough. Rebooting Winnie the Pooh as a horror movie is a choice and I’m not sure we really need another Toy Story adventure. Everyone loves Pooh and Buzz Lightyear, but we can enjoy the stuff that is already out there repeatedly. So when I saw that Starz and Steven S. DeKnight announced a Spartacus sequel was on the way, I had mixed feelings.

You had me at “Spartacus”

Steven S. DeKnight created the original Spartacus television show for Starz. It premiered in 2010 and stared Andy Whitfield as the unnamed Thracian who was sold into slavery and became the gladiator known as Spartacus. After the first season, Whitfield became ill. To keep public interest in the series while Whitfield recovered, Starz did a prequel series called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. It featured many of the same characters but took place right before Spartacus arrived in Rome. Sadly, Whitfield succumbed to his illness and the character of Spartacus was re-cast with Liam McIntyre. Two more seasons followed before they completed the show in 2013.

The series leaned heavily on the 300 style of visual effects and over-the-top gory violence. Inspired by actual historical events, it makes everything brutal and graphic (and I mean that in every sense of the word). One scene might feature an intense human decapitation, then cut to a full-frontal sex scene. It was like a hyper-masculine soap opera filled with drama and perpetual backstabbing. And it’s all set against the backdrop of ancient Rome. They show the poor conditions of the slaves in stark contrast to the opulence of the upper class. It was a show of extremes.

Do we really need a revival?

Even though Spartacus doesn’t seem like the typical show that I would like (and I didn’t like the overuse of depicting sexual assaults), I loved this series. I’ve watched the entire series several times. Yes, it was almost laughable with its graphic violence, but the drama kept me hooked. For being a show from 2010, it had a more diverse cast than most and had women kicking butt. Lucy Lawless, one of my first loves, played the immoral Lucretia with such believability and gorgeousness you couldn’t truly hate her, even though she was awful.

Spartacus Lucretia Lucy Lawless
(Starz)

Weirdly enough, it also had one of the best gay romances going on at the time, too. Agron and Nasir were a gladiator and a house slave who found love during the slave rebellion. They spell out their love for each other in no uncertain terms and probably have the healthiest relationship on the show. These two warrior boyfriends are some of the only main characters to survive the last battle.

As much as I loved Spartacus, I don’t know if we really need a sequel. Unless it is of Agron and Nasir as goat farmers, but I highly doubt that is what it will be about. It will take place after the slave rebellion and Spartacus’ death. The press release only details “a new tale of treachery, deceit and blood unfolding beneath the foreboding shadow of Rome.” But is it really even Spartacus then? Almost everyone died at the end and nothing about their rebellion truly changed Rome. So is Starz just using the Spartacus name to get away with the same extreme vibe of sex and violence? With DeKnight returning, it might be worth watching, yet I have many doubts that the revival will be worth it.

(via Variety, featured image: Starz)


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Author
D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.