What’s next for the creed franchise?
Adonis needs to avoid the gloss…
Creed II director Steven Caple Jr. says he has no idea where the Creed franchise will go from here, and he’s not the only one – many reviews commented on how the flurry of emotional gut-punches delivered by the closing shots felt like a natural endpoint for the Rocky spin-off series.
Resolution was found by all: Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) escaped the shadow of his father via a famous victory, and began building a family of his own with Bianca (Tessa Thompson); Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) reunited with his estranged son; and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) let go of his hatred for Balboa to start treating Viktor (Florian Munteanu) like a son rather than a blunt instrument of revenge.
But with Creed II recording $56m at the US box office over its opening five days – the hardest a live-action film has ever punched over Thanksgiving weekend – you can bet the champ will be back to defend his title. The question is, how can the franchise stay in shape? Sly’s Rocky survived Creed II, but Stallone recently announced he’s officially retiring the former champ, and his telling Adonis “it’s your time now” suggests the transition is being handled with care. The bigger issues, though, are those of tone and theme.
Given that Creed II felt as much a sequel to Rocky IV as to Creed, it seems the likely way forward is to now track Adonis’ glory years – much as Rocky III and IV did for the Italian Stallion. It might work, too, but only if the franchise doesn’t exchange grit for gloss. Such storytelling-onsteroids was fine in the ’80s because, well, it was the ’80s. But what we don’t need now are endless training montages, ever-more-cartoonish opponents, a robot companion, or, indeed, the return of Clubber Lang with his hard-asnails daughter – an idea floated for Creed II, by the way.
Better to maintain Creed’s authenticity by mounting a down ’n’ dirty study of fame, ego and machismo, as Adonis is showered by riches and temptation, leeches and sycophants. Or strip away every layer of varnish, with Adonis trying to deal with retirement after a serious injury, say – y’know, a bit like Rocky V, only good.
What they can’t afford to do is let complacency set in. Or, put another way, change passion for glory.