What’s next for the creed franchise?

Ado­nis needs to avoid the gloss…

Total Film - - Dialogue - JG

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.

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