The highly anticipated follow-up to director Ryan Coogler’s 2015 Rocky spin-off and sequel to Creed has finally arrived in cinemas.
Michael B. Jordan is back as Adonis Johnson Creed in a film which has been over 30 years in the making as Creed II sees the fighter take on Viktor Drago in the ring.
The son of Ivan Drago, the intimidating boxer who killed Creed’s father Apollo in Rocky IV, taking on Viktor will of course mean a lot to Adonis, both professionally and personally.
You can watch a trailer for the film here:
UNILAD was lucky enough to visit the set of Creed II in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the home to both the Rocky and Creed movies, earlier this year to see what action audiences can expect from the sequel.
Trust us, it will be thrilling!
While there we also caught up with actors Michael B. Jordan (Adonis Johnson Creed), Tessa Thompson (Bianca Taylor) and Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa) at a roundtable to discuss all things Creed.
It is safe to say they got us even more excited for what is to come with Creed II.
Speaking about the plot, Michael B. Jordan told us to expect bigger things with Creed II as the film takes the story ‘to the next level’:
It has been a constant evolution in storylines through the development process. I think Drago, who was so huge in Rocky IV and really made the franchise at that time, to be able to have that evolution, find that real organic way to tell the story of fathers and sons in a modern way in 2018 was extremely important in a really cool and unique way.
We wanted to make the sequel bigger. It is always tough to shoot a number two of anything so to come back with a fresh take, make it bigger than the first one, you know the first one we didn’t really have a real villain or antagonist it was more of an origin story, more than anything he was fighting for himself, trying to figure out who he really was. I think this time round we found the perfect vehicle to build on that, take it to the next level.
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RG @bignasty | The time has come, the fight of the century is finally here: CREED vs DRAGO 🔥🔥🔥 Who brings the belt home?? Secondary…this movie is more than just about belts or winning. It's about family and fighting for the people that we love 💯💯Check it out, I promise you won't be disappointed 🖤 CREED II OUT NOW 👊🏼👊🏼👊🏼 #creed2 #drago #morethanafight #legacy
He added that Stallone was very keen for this sequel to have a strong villain:
Sly is always around, always contributing and I talked to him throughout the development process. When it comes to the boxing, punching up the fights, he wanted to make things look better, the rhythm of the punches, the fighting sequences, he was always a genius when it comes to those sort of things.
He was very adamant about this one having a villain and we followed his lead when it came to that, built on those characters and relationships, added some art to it. Sly is always around to give knowledge, he has a very pivotal role.
While Viktor is the film’s villain, Jordan feels he is much more than that:
Viktor’s storyline is very layered and the two guys are similar in a lot of ways. If we did our job correctly I think you’ll get notes of all of that. There is human nature and some notes to Adonis’ character which feels natural animosity towards a guy like Viktor but there are other themes in there, the maturity of growth and understanding, love, family, legacy. That’s what makes Creed so special. It isn’t just I want revenge, it is about everything, about life and a lot of things.
In terms of the fighting, thank God me and Florian [Munteanu who plays Viktor] had like a month or two to get to know each other, build that chemistry and learn each others’ dance moves. He is a great guy and a really hard worker, he spent hours and hours in the gym learning the choreography but in the moment when you are doing these boxing scenes things slip, we hit each other but it’s all fun. He is a big boy and while he looks scary he is actually just a big teddy bear and really, really nice. We grew really close on this project.
Looking to the future, Jordan is up for doing more Creed films:
I first saw Rocky maybe in high school, I was like 15/16. It was a great underdog story, represented the everyday guy, the American dream, hardworking and dedicated. Never give up, never quit. I was always a fan. It is fun and an honour to continue its legacy.
Me and Ryan Coogler built this franchise, seeing this world through a different pair of eyes, it’s a new character and new perspective and to be able to have the legacy of Apollo Creed and also getting trained under Rocky, it’s a nice combination of the two.
Sly played Rocky for 42 years and if I’m so lucky I could do the same. I want to keep making them as long as they are good. I want to keep my finger on the pulse. I mean 42 years, who knows, who knows.
Stallone is certainly happy for Jordan to continue the Rocky legacy, telling us the story has now been passed on to a younger generation:
The story of myself and Drago has been passed on to the sons now and they don’t really have anything against each other. They feel vindicated to fight for revenge and it is something we really study in this thing. Do we really have to shoulder the responsibility or legacy of your father? Are you doing it to be better than your father or are you doing it for publicity. Or are you doing it because you feel the necessity for revenge? It is a big subject.
While Stallone does feel his role of Rocky has a sense of nostalgia about it, he understands things have to move on saying:
There is nostalgia around it. The irony is as my life evolves, I find things in the character. In the last one he faced death and mortality and in this one he is finally completely alone, the only thing he has left is this young man and so now he is a part of the Creed universe. The Rocky universe is kinda gone, it was left in the graveyard.
While Thompson did expect a sequel to Creed to happen, she had no idea the first would be so successful, saying:
To be honest yes, I expected a sequel as I knew that was the design. While Ryan Coogler wanted to make this film as a sort of stand-alone thing the truth is we all knew if we did it well it could be the birth of a new franchise. Bringing it to a whole new generation of people, that is the hope for us. What I didn’t expect is what it is like to have distance from a character, to step away from a role and a universe and years back later step back into it, you will have grown and changed.
I was surprised though by how successful it was. I think there were so many people ready to dismiss it. At a time there are so many reboots and franchises, there is this perception Hollywood is bankrupt and there are no new ideas. The hat trick of the first Creed is you take what you think is an old idea but you inject it with new big ideas.
Introducing the Rocky franchise to a whole new generation, the films also tell a beautiful story about a young black man in this country and to make that a franchise everyone wants to get behind is actually politically really, really cool. A lot of people didn’t think the film would have as much integrity as it does.
In the sequel Bianca also steps into her own ring as the stakes are higher with both her career and relationship:
Her reach has grown and she is really racing against time due to her progressive hearing loss and there’s a lot of intensity around finding an audience and solidifying her legacy within the music industry, trying to break new ground and reaching new heights. Trying to find the persona of an artist within this film.
There is a lot of intensity in the relationship and she spends a lot of the movie questioning whether she would really pursue music because of her hearing loss and her role as a new mother. Bianca in a way is back in the ring and deciding ‘I am going to perform until I can’t any more as it is in me and matters to me’. You can see her as she grows. She is finding new ways to deal with the hearing loss.
This film is also about family. In the first film you saw her and Adonis navigating love and pursuing dreams, this time they become a unit, a family unit so there is no room to not be in it together. They figure out how to really become a strong one, becomes more than us.
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Since #Creed2 is only 4 days away I figured I'd give you guys some more BTS. "Bianca" aka @tessamaethompson aka Baby 🐐holding the new addition to the family "Amara" aka Mar-Mar aka RaRa aka Donnie's baby girl. Wasn't my first time portraying a dad on screen (RIP Oscar Grant) but surely my first time molding my character as one. Tessa was such a natural mom, which just speaks to who she truly is such an amazing, intelligent, artistic, "Hactor" (hand-actor 😂 (inside joke)) and overall talent. She demands your attention everytime she graces the screen in @creedmovie truly a blessing to work with such a gifted soul. Can't wait for you guys to see her performance in Creed II
Thompson also discussed how the changed Hollywood landscape allows her character to vary from Rocky’s love interest and wife Adrian in the Rocky series:
I think Adrian in the first film is such a compelling character and she is not exactly the conventional romantic love interest, particularly in a sports film. She is shy and complicated and has a rich life which is incredible. The times have really changed and the cultural conversation has really changed. Audiences aren’t satisfied any more with the female character to be the object, they want her to be the subject of the narrative.
While Adrian is an endearing and enduring character, she also fell victim to what women fall victim to in films, the life of a girlfriend, you can just put them in the coma. I tease Sly about this and he has a good sense of humour so he jokes with me. What we are seeing now talking about the Hollywood landscape, when you write rich female characters these films are much stronger, more compelling and appeal to a wider audience. You also get to see her story paralleled, she is fighting for something. It is really exciting to play like Adrian 2.0 but in a time when that character can have some real room.
Creed II is out in cinemas now.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.