Creed II proves itself to be a great successor to the 2015 standout film and a worthy addition to the lore started by the Rocky franchise. Starring Michael B. Jordan, alongside a cast of talents such as Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad, and with Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren reprising their roles as Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago respectively, the movie is both a tale of growth that stretches across generations and a callback to the original series of films that started it all.
Set sometime after the end of the first film and his loss to “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, Adonis Creed (Jordan) has since then worked his way up to becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. Becoming a worldwide phenomenon, he celebrates his success with girlfriend, Bianca Porter (Thompson) and boxing coach, the retired former two-time heavyweight champion: Rocky Balboa (Stallone). However, this is short-lived as he is soon challenged to a match by Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago (Lundgren), a former rival of Rocky’s and the man who infamously killed Adonis’ father, Apollo Creed, in the ring several years prior.
Almost immediately, you can kind of predict the direction that this story is heading in, if the opening image of Ivan training his son is any indication of what’s to come. The theme of legacy is just as prevalent in this film as it was in the first, if not more, with the appearance of Viktor Drago adding to a continuously growing cast of characters that are direct descendants of people from the original Rocky series. Viktor and Adonis’ fight seems like something thirty-three years in the making, and the storyline is pulled off expertly in a way which is familiar yet still enjoyable. Adonis even receives his own set of iconic training montages, which Jordan sells perfectly with his emotionally driven performance.
That isn’t to say that Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis is the only one who goes through a bit of character development throughout the film. Each character receives their own story arc, no matter how small. Thompson’s portrayal of Bianca cements her place as more than just a supporting character, as she appears to literally be the major support system in Adonis’ life. And Rocky doesn’t seem to be faring much better, as he must juggle with his commitment to teaching Adonis, especially when the possibility of facing off against the son of one of his toughest adversaries becomes imminent, as well as his fear of contacting his own son.
However, the most noticeable exploration of character comes from Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago and the fallout from the events that took place decades ago in Rocky IV. Due to his loss at the hands of Rocky, Ivan has become a broken man, outcasted by his family and country. Though he is the bad guy of the story, it’s important to note that he isn’t a villain but simply a human being. Through his interactions with Rocky and his son, you can tell that this is a man seeking his own redemption arc.
Albeit a tad predictable, Creed II is a wonderful addition to the franchise and leaves the audience wondering where the series will go from here.