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Shane Speaks: The Legacy of Creed

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The franchise-sequel we all get behind...

2015's Creed was one sports movie franchise addition that no one seemed to question. In this over-saturated market of sequels and reboots and prequels and soft reboots (yes, that’s a term), there are a few that are able to tap into the psyche of American audiences. At the time, Star Wars – The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron were the big blockbuster sequels that either made a gargantuan amount of money in the box office or were surprisingly nominated for Oscars. We won’t talk about that Point Break reboot that came out that year.

Spoilers ahead for Creed.

But those were blockbusters, aimed at the summer months or Christmastime in order to make money since they cost upwards of $300,000,000 to make. There are similar three-act structures that end with a giant CGI fight. Creed however, doesn’t follow that. Nor does this film have a committee of producers that want to connect this movie to future ones with a random cameo by Batman or something of the sort. Creed has a modest budget that was made by newcomer director Ryan Coogler, who funny enough, most recently made Black Panther.

Creed is nonetheless, a continuation of the Rocky saga i.e. a sequel-reboot. But no one rolled their eyes at the sight of this movie or seemed to be concerned with how it would affect the ongoing sports move franchise. Audiences seemed to unanimously get behind the idea of Apollo Creed’s son taking up boxing with good ol’ Sly there to coach him. At the time, Ryan Coogler was a fresh director coming off of the acclaimed Fruitvale Station, a day-in-the-life story of Oscar Grant who was tragically killed by a BART policeman in Oakland in 2009. Hiring him we all knew that MGM was tapping into the zeitgeist as he also brought Michael B. Jordan, star of Fruitvale Station, to play Adonis Creed.

What followed was a true story. I don’t mean “true” as in based in reality but a true story with heart and emotion and stakes, kind of like Rocky. Michael B. Jordan played a troubled kid who just wanted a shot and Sly played a regretful, dying Rocky who saw his chance to help an old friend’s son. The chance of redemption and validation was in the mind of Adonis, not some villainous plot for money or world domination. We related to Adonis because of his real-world tendencies like seeking approval from his mother or asking Rocky how he is going to navigate the boxing world with the weight of his father’s name on him. These motivations are much akin to Rocky’s in the first film in that they are natural e.g. that he just wanted to go the distance, not even to win a title.

Moreover, this film established director Ryan Coogler as a talented professional. Creed’s first fight is shown in real-time as one-take. Whether they actually filmed it in one take or not is up for debate but there’s ingenuity there that isn’t present in the big tentpole films like Star Wars. Furthermore, this film franchise has an inclusive cast to portray the characters. Then, in a surprising scene that in any other directors’ hands would’ve collapsed, Rocky reveals to Adonis that Apollo beat him at the end of Rocky III. They simultaneously tap into the history of Rocky while making something new that could even stand on its own as great.

Something a sequel should be.

If you haven’t seen Creed because you were afraid it would ruin your childhood or because you are sick of sequels, give this one a shot. Even as I spoiled a good chunk of the film. Now, in 2018, we have Creed II. The much-anticipated sequel will follow Adonis taking on new personal challenges while facing someone related to his past, the son of Ivan Drago. Any other director, any other actor, any other studio, this franchise would fall apart. The fact that audiences, and myself, are on board for this sequel that borrows heavily from the Rocky saga, let alone directly references Dolph Lundgren’s character, is a triumph alone. What we have here is a potential addition to the pantheon of the best sports movies ever made.

Arguably, the best Rocky movie since… Rocky itself.

Creed II is out November 21st.

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