Resolution in “Creed II”

The latest chapter of the “Creed” franchise provides us with a resolution 33 years in the making. What’s next for the franchise?

Promotional Creed II Poster

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Since the first released teaser trailer of Creed II, we all knew what was coming. It was a resolution, finally, for our befallen hero, Apollo Creed. Sure, we got to watch Rocky pummel Ivan Drago over and over again culminating in the demise of the Russian boxer. Yet, for the last 33 years, we have never had a resolution to the tragic end that Apollo Creed suffered.

In Rocky IV, Apollo Creed is viciously attacked in an exhibition match with Ivan Drago. Rocky, Apollo’s trainer for the fight, urged Creed to stop the fight — this fight was too unfair. Creed, with all his talent and confidence, lacked understanding of his pride and moxie and its dangers when ignored. While Rocky begged him not to continue on, Creed stepped back into the ring for a fateful dismantling. Although Drago threw the punches and Rocky watched with the surrendering towel in hand, ultimately, it was Creed’s pride that threw in the towel — not on the fight — but on his life.

In the first installment of the Creed series, we meet a young, misguided youth named Adonis. Adonis is the byproduct of his Apollo Creed’s unknown affair with another woman, who died as well. Adonis is visited in juvenile detention by Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne Creed, who informs him of who his father was. Throughout the first film, Adonis battles with his understanding of who he is and what is in his name. Adonis, desperate to make a name for himself, follows in the steps of his father and chooses boxing as his venture to do so. While Adonis develops a father-like relationship with “Unc” Rocky Balboa, he struggles to evade the shadow that is cast by his father, a legendary boxer in his own right. He struggles to connect with the surname “Creed” as he never knew what it was like to connect with the late boxer. With some battles of his own, Rocky helps Adonis forge a path of his own into a newfound heavyweight fight. Although they ultimately lose to a split decision, Rocky and Adonis retrieve respect and cheers from boxers and fans alike and come out the other side with pride.

The pride that Adonis retains spills onto the stage immediately in Creed II. Taking place a few years after the previous heavyweight loss, Adonis has run through the gamut of fighters only to have found himself in the ring against the current heavyweight champion, a foe that Adonis had previously bet his Mercedes he could beat in a gym brawl. Adonis, in full American-clad shorts, beats the incumbent easily and becomes the heavyweight champion of the world. Quickly afterwards, an unknown fighter hailing from Russia demands a fight against the champ. Of course, it is none other than Ivan Drago’s son, Viktor. Adonis, swelled with pride much like his father’s, is floored at the prospect. He believes that he must fight to honor his father, but Rocky disagrees.

Much like the first film, the separation between the father and the son is in large part what balances the movie only this time the father and son are depicted actually as Rocky and Adonis. As Rocky and Adonis fall to their disconnection, they have to question their beliefs about themselves. Adonis quickly falls to Viktor in a rushed fight, and the delicate glass that tied Rocky and Adonis shatters along with it. Fear and doubt creep in, as Adonis loses faith in himself, his legacy, and his family.

With the birth of his daughter, Adonis rekindles his relationship with Rocky and picks up the pieces in a hot desert, in which Rocky claims fighters are “reborn.” With their effort and continued brilliance, they defeat Viktor in Russia reclaiming their faith and providing a resolution for Apollo Creed.

At the end of the film, Adonis is shown speaking to his father’s grave and introducing his wife and daughter. Rocky is shown reuniting with his son as well as meeting his grandson for the first time.

Much like the first film, Creed II depends on the balance between Rocky and Adonis and the respective performances by Stallone and Jordan. This film also reads much more like a Rocky film than the first installment. With a vigorous workout montage in the Californian desert, it easily pays homage to the likes of Rocky IV and the beating Rocky implored physically to prepare himself for Ivan Drago. Moreover, it resembles this film with both Bianca and Mary Anne coming to Russia to watch the fight just as Adrian did just days before Rocky took on Drago. Nevertheless, the nuances between the films are just the cherry as Creed II ultimately provides a resolution to the long-standing and tragic death of Apollo Creed.

In Rocky IV, while we get revenge on Ivan Drago via Rocky Balboa, there was something left on the table by having Apollo disappear without much grandeur. In Creed II, there is nothing left once Adonis regains the upper hand on Viktor. With incredible effort, Adonis fights back much like Rocky did 33 years previously, but this time he sports the Creed name on his dark shorts, which provides us with resolutions for the Creed family as well as Rocky, who still lives with regret for not stopping the fight. Almost miraculously, we also see a father and son relationship blossom from Ivan and Viktor, as Ivan throws in the white towel to save his son from real damage. While we see Rocky and Adonis evolve in their relationship, we are also fortunate to see the hate that seethes from Ivan dissipate as he hugs his son compassionately. With Ivan’s admonishment of his hatred, we also can give up our hatred for the man that took our beloved Apollo too soon.

This satisfying conclusion is an important take on the franchise, but has us all wondering what is in store for Creed III? While the Rocky movies compounded on a mix of emotions and new tricks, the Creed series can only have so many storylines that attaches itself to the Rocky franchise. Now that we have dealt with Adonis accepting his name and his family and a resolution for the Drago v. Apollo Creed fight, what’s next for us to tie us into the franchise? Should we expect Mr. T’s Clubber Lang to also have a child that would like revenge against Rocky and Creed? Do we dare even think about considering Tommy Gunn doing the same?

The only predictable storyline moving forward is for Adonis and Bianca to find a shared balance between family, boxing, and her career. We missed the possibility of watching Apollo raise his own son to be a fighter, so perhaps we will be blessed with watching Adonis take on the challenge. With Rocky’s own familial drama, it would be easy for these two storylines to parallel and lead to prospering futures. In turn, these storylines would help the Creed series stand out on its own and out of the shadow of its predecessor films similar to how Adonis is forging his own path alongside the Creed name.

With that, the metaphorical torch can be passed to Michael B. Jordan to carry on the franchise when Stallone might become too old to continue on as Rocky Balboa. Can you imagine how powerful the scene would be if Adonis is shown meandering the cemetery only to pull the crooked chair out of a tree and talk to Rocky’s grave?

We can only hope for so much and more as the franchise barrels on.