– by Joseph Jammer Medina

It’s no exaggeration to say that Creed was quite the surprise for most fans. The Rocky franchise was one that had pretty much run its course. It started out as an independent critical darling before ascending to mainstream popularity as the quality took a nosedive off a cliff. Then Sylvester Stallone brought it back to its indie roots for Rocky Balboa, a film that focused as much on the emotional circumstances surrounding the fighting as the first film. Furthermore, it closed out Rocky’s storyline. He’d grown old and fought out his pent-up aggression in one final professional match. Nothing more needed to be said.

But then Creed came along, reintroducing Rocky, and introducing Adonis Creed to the mix. It was incredibly successful from both a filmmaking and storytelling standpoint, as it walked the line between paying homage to its predecessors and paving the way for the future. In the next film, director Steven Caple, Jr. and writer Cheo Hodari Coker are looking to do more of the same, with Creed II bringing back Ivan Drago, who Rocky defeated in Rocky IV.

Speaking with /Film, Coker discussed how all the main characters will be utilized in the film, and how their journeys contribute to the main thrust of the narrative.

“It’s about the legacies of sons haunted by their fathers. Even though Drago is alive, his son is haunted by him because Drago is a broken man who’s trying to rebuild himself through the son. Apollo Creed isn’t broken but because Apollo died, Adonis Creed is still haunted by his father’s death and how it defined him, what it is it means now to be a champion. He’s aspiring to be a champion but also at the same time trying to figure out who it is he is. Particularly with Bianca, particularly also because he’s got Rocky who at this point becomes the new Mickey.”

I love the fact that they are going through the trouble to make the villains very sympathetic here. With the exception of Apollo Creed, the Rocky movies have never been subtle about who we should be rooting for, and in this case, it looks like we may see where the competition is coming from.

But what about Rocky himself? Well, he made it through the first Creed, and they’re making sure his growth is still continuing.

“He really is the trainer who was a champion and lost it, kind of got something back and of course is still, in his own way trying to deal with the absence of Adrian. It’s one of those things that thematically, haunted me.”

Character first. They’re certainly making that work here, and it reminds me why these movies still manage to work today. Let’s hope they execute it well enough!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.