Much like Adonis trying to live up to his father’s legacy, director Steven Caple Jr. has big gloves to fill following up Ryan Coogler’s Creed. The first installment of the Rocky spin-off franchise was a knock-out. In addition to being a massive success — both critically and financially — the film is a prime example of how to do a spin-off right.
Did Creed rewrite the rules of boxing movies? Heck no. The framework of Coogler’s movie was a rags to riches story we’ve seen countless times before. Rocky set a precedent for movies like this and few have tried to buck the trend since.
That said, Creed is every bit as good as the original Rocky movie. It is. The themes of self-determination, hard work, and overcoming demons on the way to glory are all there. That’s what makes these movies the uplifting comfort food they need to be after all. But the demons our characters are dealing with in Creed carry more emotional weightiness. The film not only deals with one young boxer’s quest to reach the top and honor a loved one’s legacy, it also reminds us that the universe is unkind and unfair and that our time here has an expiry date.
Creed continued the overarching Rocky story while simultaneously forging a new one. That’s how you launch a spin-off franchise people care about. Now Caple Jr. has the opportunity to continue this momentum and show the world that Creed can go on to achieve a legacy that’s on par with Rocky’s.
Check out the trailer for the sequel below to see what’s in store:
The story follows Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) as he gets ready to fight Ivan Drago’s (Dolph Lundgren) son, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Of course, given that Ivan is the Russian that killed his old man, Adonis has personal stakes in this bout. Sylvester Stallone returns as young Creed’s mentor, Rocky Balboa, and he doesn’t want his protege stepping into the ring for this one.
What makes Creed such a compelling character is the huge chip he has on his shoulder. This is the fight he’s been training for his whole life. The ghost of his father has followed him everywhere since day one and now he has the chance to right the wrong that caused this lifetime of hurt. This is the movie that will determine the type of man Adonis really is.
While Creed 2 gives the franchise an excuse to bring back an old antagonist and cash in on that nostalgia, I’m excited to see how old Drago is portrayed. How has time treated him? Is he bitter? Has age and wisdom burdened him with regret? Does he want to make amends with Rocky and Adonis? Will he read their emails like a pesky Russian meddler? From a character and story perspective, bringing in the Russians makes sense as it rekindles unfinished business. However, I hope the story focuses on good old-fashioned personal grudges and resists jingoism.
The trailer also reveals that Creed and Bianca (Tessa Thompson) are expecting a baby. That child will no doubt become a boxer and lead their own spin-off franchise in 20 years time. The wheels are in motion to ensure that this cinematic lineage for years to come. Bring it on.
Finally, this movie could make Creed surpass the Rocky franchise. Hear me out. The Rocky sequels are fun entertainment, but only the first movie is truly great. This continuation, however, has the potential to be the meatiest Rockyverse movie to date and could also be truly great. There’s just too much animosity between these characters for it not to be.
Now, the big question: Will Rocky and Ivan square off one more time? Given that Stallone and Lundgren are involved, they probably will.