'Gladiator II' First Look: See Paul Mescal and Pedro Pascal in Action

'Gladiator II' is slated to premiere in theaters on Nov. 22.

It's been over two decades since Gladiator fans first stepped into the cinematic colosseum helmed by Ridley Scott and now we're getting an official look at the director's new story in the same universe.

On Monday, Vanity Fair shared several first-look images from Scott’s long-awaited Gladiator II, which welcomes a host of famous faces including Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington, Connie Nielsen, Joseph Quinn, Fred Hechinger and more.

Gladiator II stars Mescal as Lucius Verus, the nephew of former Emperor Commodus, the patricidal traitor-turned-emperor played by Joaquin Phoenix in the first film. Per Vanity Fair, his mother, Lucilla (Nielsen), sent him away to grow up in Numidia, a region in the northern coast of Africa, where he starts his own family and resents his mother and the empire.

When the Roman army (led by Pascal's general Marcus Acacius) attacks, Lucius' new home is destroyed and he's captured and brought back to Rome to be a gladiator. The Rome he returns to is corrupt and cruel, led by two "sadistic" co-Emperors (Hechinger and Quinn), and Lucius finds his mother is involved with the very general who just destroyed his way of life in Numidia.

Washington stars as a former slave-turned-wealthy arms dealer named Macrinus, Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus, Tim McInnerny as Thraex, and Alexander Karim as Ravi, alongside Lior Raz, Peter Mensah, Matt Lucas, May Calamawy and more.

Pascal's general is said to have trained as a junior officer under Russell Crowe's Maximus -- the role that won Crowe the Best Actor Oscar back in 2001.

At the end of the first Gladiator, Maximus succumbs to injuries he earned while leading a violent attempt to overthrow Commodus, meaning Crowe's character could not return for the sequel. But that doesn't mean he'll be forgotten in the sequel.

"This movie has an identity that is shaped by his legacy. It wouldn't make sense for it not to," Pascal tells Vanity Fair. The actor described Acacius as a fighter who "learned from the best, so of course this code of honor is ingrained into his training and into his existence. But at the end of the day, he's a different person. And that can't change who he is. Maximus is Maximus, and that can't be replicated. That just makes Acacius capable of different things."

When asked about his perspective on what the film is about, Mescal tells Vanity Fair: "What human beings will do to survive, but also what human beings will do to win. We see that in the arena, but also in the political struggle that's going on outside of my character's storyline, where you see there's other characters striving and pulling for power. Where's the space for humanity? Where's the space for love, familial connection? And ultimately, will those things overcome this kind of greed and power? Those things are oftentimes directly in conflict with each other."

It's a remarkably different tone than the project Scott watched that drew him to Mescal for the role of Lucius -- Hulu's limited series, Normal People

"When I watch anything, I tend to be clocking who's interesting. It's just in my DNA. And so, watching a TV show that's not really my kind of TV show almost four years ago, I said, 'Who's this guy?'" Scott says of Mescal drawing his attention in the adaptation of Sally Rooney's 2018 best-selling book

Scott recalls arranging a Zoom with Mescal while the latter was performing A Streetcar Named Desire in London: "I met with him and he said, 'Of course, I'd love to do it.' And that was it. We were away and running with the ball. He was a special find. He was absolutely perfect."

Mescal adds that the conversation took "about 20 to 30 minutes."

"I wanted to get a flavor from him about what the story was going to be about, so we spent about 15 minutes talking about that, and then we spent another 10 minutes talking about the sport that I played growing up -- Gaelic football. Maybe that was something that helped with it, in that I'm used to being physical in my body," he shares, adding that Scott later decided he didn't need to do a camera test. "My memory of it is that probably two or three weeks later, the offer came in."

Crowe will seemingly remain an unseen figure in the sequel after his character's demise in the first film. Earlier this month, the 60-year-old Oscar winner opened up about his complicated feelings about the Gladiator sequel during an appearance on the Kyle Meredith with... podcast.

"I reflect back [on] the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it and the doors that that particular movie opened for me," he said, sharing his thoughts on the sequel.

"There's definitely a tinge -- and this is just being purely honest -- a tinge of melancholy, tinge of jealousy," he admitted, adding with a laugh, "because I remember when I had tendons.”

"I'm slightly uncomfortable, the fact that they're making another one, you know? Because, of course, I'm dead, and I have no say in what gets done," he added. "But, a couple of things that I've heard, I'm like, 'No, no, no, no, no. That’s not in the moral journey of that particular character.' But, you know, can't say anything. It's not my place. I'm six foot under. So we'll see what that is like."

Gladiator II is set to storm into theaters on Nov. 22.