Before director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan shook up the Marvel movie villain pantheon with Black Panther’s Killmonger, they jumped in the ring together to reboot the Rocky franchise with 2015’s Creed. (And before that, they chronicled the story of Oscar Grant’s death in the indie Fruitvale Station, a movie you owe it to yourself to see.)
Creed recast the underdog boxer saga with Jordan as Adonis Johnson, son of Rocky’s legendary foe, Apollo Creed. The role fit like a glove; the actor was a swole, slick and ferocious foil to Sylvester Stallone’s weathered Rocky, now dying of cancer. With that chemistry, and Tessa Thompson countering Adonis with female energy, it’s no surprise that Coogler’s sequel was a hit — but was it franchise material?
Allow the trailer for Creed II to answer that question. Written by Stallone, produced by Coogler, and directed by Steven Caple Jr., who, like Coogler, broke out at Sundance with his film The Land, the film continues the personal-vs-professional drama at the heart of Adonis’ career, this time pitting him against another legacy figure: Viktor Drago, son of Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago, the villain of Rocky IV. Sounds hokey on paper, but such is the power of Michael B. Jordan.
Here’s the official synopsis from Warner Bros. Pictures:
Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.
Creed II hits theaters on Nov. 21, 2018, when we’ll know for sure if the original was lightning in a bottle or the start of a series with stamina.