The following article contains spoilers for ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ (and also history).
We stand upon sacred ground, Doctore, watered with tears of blood. It’s been 10 years since the bloodthirsty historical drama Spartacus came to its epic conclusion with its final season, Spartacus: War of the Damned. Charting the rise of the Thracian gladiator who would seek to challenge the might of Rome by leading a slave rebellion, Spartacus earned itself a legion of fans for its violent and highly stylised take on the famous historical tale.
Despite the series ending with Spartacus’ death and the crushing defeat of his army at the hands of Marcus Licinius Crassus and his Roman legions, it would seem that Starz are now planning to breathe fresh life into the series once more. Recently, Starz announced that they were developing a new series revival, with original creator and showrunner Steven DeKnight also onboard to return, and we couldn’t be any more excited.
With Spartacus himself, Liam McIntyre, set to join us at Supanova in Melbourne (22-23 April), alongside Todd Lasance (Julius Caesar), we took the opportunity to get all the hot goss straight from the lips of the Bringer of Rain himself.
“Ten years?!” McIntyre exclaims in disbelief when asked about his memories of the original series. “I fondly remember my back not hurting! I’m kidding (a bit). Ultimately, like all good things, the best parts of the show were the amazing people you got to work with, most of whom I share great friendships with to this day! And getting to swing a sword at work was never going to get old!”
And while McIntyre’s Spartacus eventually fell victim to Roman spears in the original series finale, the actor is excited about the prospect of Starz’s move to return to the property. “I did hear about the plans for them to continue the journey,” he enthuses. “Makes me wish I was better at catching spears. But I’m extremely excited for them – hopefully they can pick it up from where it left off and we can follow some great characters in their ongoing journey, or maybe they’ll have a totally fresh take on it!”
Is it a sequel or a reboot?
The first question on many fans’ lips is whether Starz’s new plans constitute a continuation of the existing series or a fresh reboot of the property. While the conclusion of Spartacus: War of the Damned provided a fairly definitive conclusion for the show’s titular character, all signs seem to point toward this new series picking up after the defeat of Spartacus’ rebel army.
The official logline for the new series suggests the returning show will “depict a new tale of treachery, deceit, and blood unfolding beneath the foreboding shadow of Rome”. Meanwhile, DeKnight, who is also known for his tenure as season one showrunner on Marvel’s original Daredevil series, suggests that he will be “crafting something truly unique and unusual for the next chapter in this epic story”.
Whatever they have planned, McIntyre has nothing but faith in his former Spartacus showrunner. “I know it’s in the right hands with Steve,” he explains. “And I’m so excited people get to revisit the world after so long away. I can’t wait.”
How Spartacus can continue after War of the Damned
Before McIntyre assumed the mantle of Spartacus, his character was originally portrayed by Andy Whitfield in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Charting the titular character’s rise to glory as a famous gladiator, sadly Whitfield was unable to continue in the role after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and tragically passing away in 2011. Facing the enormous challenge of following on in Whitfield’s critically acclaimed footsteps, McIntyre would later assume the role for 2012’s Spartacus: Vengeance and 2013’s Spartacus: War of the Damned.
“I never in a million years thought I’d actually GET that job,” McIntyre says of being chosen to follow on from Whitfield. “I mean, who was I? So it wasn’t till I was basically turning up to set the first day that it really hit me… wait, I’m meant to follow HIM? But he’s brilliant. Then it was pretty overwhelming. But, ultimately, I knew he’d poured is heart and soul into making that character all that it was, and I just wanted to honour that work by trying to live up to the standard he set.”
Meanwhile, McIntyre also hopes the new series will find an appropriate way to honour his predecessor. “With the new show, I hope they can find some way, ANY way to include Andy and his family in it,” he explains. “Either at a production level, in the credits, or some other way. There really would be no show without him.”
For those familiar with the original history, the tale of Spartacus could only end one way, with his death during the Battle of the Silarius River. While the history books suggest that Spartacus’ body was never recovered, the series finale dashed any hopes that his character might survive. Shown being impaled by several Roman spears from behind, the former Gladiator was later buried in a grave marked by a shield with a red serpent upon it, fulfilling a prophecy once made by his wife.
“I’m always happy to come back as a zombie,” McIntyre jokes, but his character’s death does beg the question where DeKnight could possibly go with this new series revival. While the actor remains open to an idea of posthumous return, it does seem rather unlikely. “I mean never say never, and I’d NEVER turn down a chance to make an appearance,” he admits. “But I haven’t been told anything. I truly don’t know.”
Instead, the best answer probably lies in the form of Julius Caesar, played by fellow Supa-Star Todd Lasance. With War of the Damned setting up the political alliance known as the First Triumvirate between Crassus, Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, there is plenty of ripe story fodder surrounding this group and their play for power in the cutthroat arena of Roman politics. Moreover, with Caesar’s infamous campaign in Gaul taking place 13 years after the defeat of Spartacus and his army, the timing would be ripe to see the series pick up against this new backdrop.
One thing is certain, however, whatever direction the new show takes it is likely to be just as bloody. When asked if there was ever a moment in the original series that he thought might have gone too far, McIntyre responded with the bloodthirsty impulse of a true gladiator. “I was usually the one saying ‘but can it have MORE blood?’” he recalls. “I thought it was a riot. Maybe could have chopped off one or two fewer appendages I guess.”
What else is in store for the former Champion of Capua?
Of course, McIntyre has certainly not been sitting idle since his time on Spartacus, and his career has offered him many opportunities to exceed even the wildest dreams of his childhood self. Lending his vocal talents to everyone from the fallen Jedi Knight Taron Malicos in the hit game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, to Captain Boomerang and Aquaman in DC’s animated outings, the actor admits that “there’s a 10-year-old Liam that couldn’t possibly conceive of that”.
With Lucasfilm rapidly expanding their Star Wars footprint on Disney+, the star would also not be averse to making the leap across to a live-action series. “As for getting to play a character in live action – I mean it’s not without precedent,” he admits. “I can truly only hope. That’d be a dream beyond!”
Lead Image: Todd Lasance and Liam McIntyre on stage at Supanova 2023 – Gold Coast. Photo by Steven Yee