Michael B. Jordan returns in Creed II as Adonis Creed after his starring role as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther while Sylvester Stallone returns as his mentor, Rocky Balboa.
Creed II, directed by Steven Caple Jr., with Ryan Coogler as executive producer, is the latest installment in the boxing-themed Rocky franchise, and the sequel to 2015’s Creed, the smash-hit sports drama film directed by Coogler, who also co-wrote it with Aaron Covington.
The Creed series is essentially a spinoff of the Rocky franchise, which took off with 1976’s Rocky, the movie that made Sylvester Stallone. Stallone took the calculated risk of using Creed (2015), the seventh installment in the Rocky franchise and sequel to 2006’s Rocky Balboa, to reset and revitalize the Rocky franchise. He introduced Jordan as the star of the first Creed movie. Jordan played Adonis (“Donnie”) Creed, the son of Apollo Creed, while Stallone’s character, Rocky Balboa, the original protagonist in the Rocky series, played a supporting role as Donnie’s mentor.
Fortunately, Creed (2015) proved to be a critical and commercial success, and its success guaranteed that Creed II would happen.
Creed II will focus on the generational beef between the Creeds and the Dragos, with Rocky Balboa mentoring the young Adonis Creed, the son of his late friend, Apollo. Fans of the Rocky franchise will recall that in Rocky IV (1985), Apollo Creed lost his life fighting Ivan Drago, and Rocky avenged his friend’s death by defeating Drago.
Ahead of the released date, here is everything that we know so far about the upcoming eighth installment in the Rocky franchise.
Creed II release date
Creed II will hit theaters in the U.S. on November 21, 2018, just before Thanksgiving.
— #CREED (@creedmovie) June 19, 2018
The film will be distributed in the U.S. by MGM while Warner Bros. will distribute it internationally.
Creed II details
Sylvester Stallone and Gary Barber, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) CEO, first confirmed on January 5, 2016, that a sequel to Creed (2015) was in development. Because MGM had planned to release Creed II in November 2017, Barber said Ryan Coogler might not return to direct the movie due to a scheduling conflict with Marvel Studio’s Black Panther, which Coogler co-wrote and directed. But Barber said Coogler would serve as executive producer for Creed II.
Coogler later confirmed to Variety in February that scheduling conflicts with Black Panther would prevent him from directing Creed II.
Stallone revealed on Instagram in July 2017 that he had completed the script for Creed II. He also revealed that Ivan Drago would feature in the upcoming movie. However, Luke Cage creator, Cheo Hodari Coker, later joined the team to co-write with Stallone.
Stallone followed up the initial confirmation of a Creed sequel with an Instagram message on October 9, 2017. He indicated at the time that he would be directing and producing the proposed eighth installment of his Rocky franchise.
But it was revealed later in December that Stallone would be stepping down as director and that Steven Caple Jr., writer and director of The Land (2016), would be taking over as director. Explaining the reason for the decision to bring Caple on board, Stallone said they wanted a director who was “part of this generation.”
Excited for Coogler to hand over the reins to Steven Caple, Jr. – our director for Creed 2! Can’t wait to bring you guys the next chapter of our story … coming at you November 2018. 👊🏾👊🏾 #Creed2
— Michael B. Jordan (@michaelb4jordan) December 11, 2017
“The character of Adonis Creed reflects this generation and its challenges,” Stallone said. “I believe it’s important for the director to also be a part of this generation like I was in mine, to make the story as relatable as possible.”
Filming began in March 2018, in Philadelphia and the Port Richmond neighborhood of Pennsylvania, and it ended on June 7. Stallone took to Instagram a number of times in April 2018 to share behind-the-scenes videos of ongoing activity.
You know the old cliché that it “seems like yesterday and “but it does and it’s a very exciting moment to be here getting ready to Watch Creed 2 to commence filming. A very exciting day !!! The actors and production team has been waiting a long Time for this film to start , so ladies and gentlemen get ready to watch the fists startFLYING! #MGM #rockybalboa #CREED2
Many fans were worried to learn that Coogler would not be directing Creed II, although he would remain as executive producer. Coogler gained the reputation as a brilliant director for his work on Fruitvale Station (2013), Creed (2015) and Black Panther (2018). But some of the fears were abated when Steven Caple Jr., Coogler’s USC classmate, was announced as the new director.
The release of the trailer also helped to further calm fears as many fans were impressed with the quality and noted that it appeared to retain the flavor of the video for Creed (2015).
Stallone wrote every installment of the Rocky franchise except for Creed (2015), co-written by Aaron Covington and Coogler. Stallone also directed every installment of the Rocky series save for Creed (2015), the original Rocky and Rocky V, which was directed by John Avildsen.
Creed II trailer
Stallone took to Instagram mid-June to announce that the trailer for Creed II was set to be released. The trailer was eventually released on June 20, 2018. The quick-paced two-minute trailer gave fans plenty of hints about what to expect in the upcoming movie.
It shows Adonis Creed (Jordan) and Bianca Porter still together. We see the couple with a baby girl. They also appear with Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), Apollo Creed’s widow. Mary Anne appears to try to convince Adonis not to fight Viktor Drago.
The climax of the trailer shows Adonis facing off with Viktor, son of Ivan Drago, the main villain in Rocky IV who killed Donnie’s father, Apollo. We also see Rocky visiting Adrian’s grave.
We catch a glimpse of Adonis and Tony “Little Duke” Evers together, suggesting that the owner of the Delphi Boxing Academy might have finally decided to take on Apollo’s son. Little Duke previously refused to train Adonis because he did not want him to end up like his father, who was punched to death in the ring fighting the ruthless Russian boxer Ivan Drago.
A complete generational shift from Rocky to Creed is implemented to enhance the dramatic appeal of the storyline. Apollo had trained with Little Duke’s father, Tony “Duke” Evers. Duke Evers was there on the fateful night that Ivan killed Apollo Creed in the ring. Duke also later trained Rocky for his fight against Ivan. Now in Creed II, Little Duke (Duke’s son) trains Adonis (Apollo’s son) to fight Viktor (Ivan’s son).
The trailer shows intense training sessions, including an underwater session.
Creed II cast
Returning cast members include Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, and Wood Harris.
Jordan returns to the ring as Adonis Creed, Sylvester Stallone as the aging Rocky Balboa, and Westworld star Tessa Thompson as Donnie’s love interest, Bianca Porter.
Stallone announced on Instagram in January 2018 that the Romanian professional heavyweight boxer and fitness model, Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu, will be playing Ivan Drago’s son, Viktor. Viktor Drago and Adonis Creed will face off in the ring in Creed II.
“Congratulations to Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu for getting the part as IVAN DRAGOS son!” Stallone wrote. “27 years old, 6 feet four, 245 pounds of talent.”
Munteanu has no previous acting experience, but he was reportedly chosen for the role of Viktor Drago because he looks the part.
Stallone first dropped the hint in July 2017 that Creed II will see the return of actor Dolph Lundgren to his 1985 role as Ivan Drago. Ivan killed Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in Rocky IV (1985), but Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) defeated Ivan in Russia in front of a home crowd. It appears from the trailer that Ivan will be looking to settle old scores. His son Viktor will challenge Adonis, and Ivan will help his son to prepare for the fight.
Lundgren revealed in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had doubts when Stallone first brought up the idea of bringing back his character.
“I wasn’t sure, since it’s been about 30 years. I wanted Ivan Drago to live in the past, but it turned out that the script for Creed II was really good,” he said.
Phylicia Rashad returns as Apollo Creed’s widow and Donnie’s stepmother, Mary Anne. Wood Harris will be playing Tony “Little Duke” Evers while the former world light heavyweight champion, Andre Ward, will be portraying Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler. Fences (2016) star Russell Hornsby (Lyons) will play Buddy Marcelle. The former world heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield, and ring announcer Michael Buffer, will make appearances as themselves, according to Newsweek.
Creed II plot
Creed II co-writer Choe Hodari Coker shared an overview of the plot of the upcoming film in a June 2018 interview with Slash Film. According to Coker, the film’s main theme is the “legacies of sons haunted by their fathers.”
Creed II follows the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), a promising light heavyweight boxer being mentored by his late father’s friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). His family legacy is at stake as he prepares for his fight against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who killed his father, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), in a ring fight in Rocky IV (1985).
Adonis faces the biggest challenge of his life as he prepares to fight the son of the man who killed his father. He must strike a balance between his commitment to train for his next big fight and his responsibilities as a father (it appears from the trailer that Adonis and Bianca now have a baby).
“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,” Coker told Slash Film. “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,” Coker continued. “Particularly with Bianca, particularly also because he’s got Rocky who at this point becomes the new Mickey.”
Rocky Balboa, who fought and defeated Ivan in Rocky IV, shares Donnie’s bitter family legacy. Rocky is there by Donnie’s side to inspire him and see him through the challenge that brings both of them to confront a painful part of their past. Facing the son of the man who killed his father in the ring will create a complex of emotions for Adonis, as well as his mentor, Rocky.
Rocky continues to blame himself for Apollo’s death. He blames himself for allowing the fight to continue until Apollo lost his life. He will fear losing Adonis the way he lost the father.
“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,” Coker said concerning Rocky. “It’s one of those things that thematically haunted me.”
It would be interesting to see how much Ivan has changed over the years since he fought Apollo and Rocky in Rocky IV. Will he feel any regret about Apollo’s death or will he return as an unremorseful villain bent on exacting revenge for his humiliating loss to Rocky in front of a home crowd in Russia?