A family affair
Creed II sees Adonis fighting the son of his father’s killer. Will old scores be settled?
THERE ARE NO prizes for guessing that Creed II is the sequel to Creed. The clue’s in the name. But, as the eighth film in the Rocky saga, it also has the honour of being a sequel to six other movies. And one in particular: Rocky IV.
In case you’ve forgotten the cheesiest of all Rocky movies, that’s the one where Sly Stallone runs up a mountain; the one where James Brown sang ‘Living In America’; the one with the robot butler. It’s also, crucially, the one where the beloved Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) met his end at the hammer hands of giant Russian punch-bastard, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Drago is the reason why
Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) never got to meet, let alone know, his father.
And if that seems like fertile ground to mine for drama, you’re absolutely right. For Creed II will see Adonis face off against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), a huge unit who just happens to be the son of the man who killed his father.
“The theme of the film is family,” says Steven Caple Jr, who replaces
Ryan Coogler in the director’s chair.
“The film isn’t about just one person, it’s about who’s behind you. Who, legit, is in your corner?”
In this movie, that’s not just a neat phrase. For, just to make things even
more melodramatic — Shakespearean, even — Adonis and Viktor have two old rivals in their corner: Rocky Balboa, naturally, and one Ivan Drago.
Where Drago has been for so long remains to be seen, but the return of the one true villain of the entire series (it could be argued that Rocky was always his one true enemy) is a mouthwatering prospect. “That character was so huge in Rocky IV,” says Jordan. “We didn’t have a real villain or antagonist first time around. It was more or less an origin story.
This time we’ve found the perfect vehicle to build on that.”
The Rocky series has boasted emotional depth and complexity from the off. That’s what makes the uppercuts and jabs really sting. And Caple Jr knows that this tale of fathers, sons, and the sins of the past is filled with rich dramatic material. “Ivan Drago coming back could be super one way, genre-esque, and the other way is there could be a character piece, and a story that feels natural and not so in your face.”
Creed was, without doubt, a character piece, one that saw Stallone nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (he narrowly lost on points to
Mark Rylance). Is it too fanciful a notion to imagine that the sequel might present Lundgren with a similar showcase? Incredibly, Rocky IV was his first movie. This will be his 70th. And yet he admits that, on Creed II, “I learned a lot as an actor. I don’t think I’ve ever played a guy that desperate before. He’s angry at the world, especially Rocky. Which makes the father-son relationship interesting.”
It’s father figure vs father. Son vs son. Russia vs America (which feels timely, again). The ingredients are there for a classic Rocky/creed movie. And this one won’t have a robot butler.
CREED II IS IN CINEMAS FROM 29 NOVEMBER
Empire spoke to the Creed II cast and crew in Philadelphia (where else?) on 21 May. Main: Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordon) psyches himself up for the fight against Drago’s son Viktor. Inset: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) trains up Creed.