Michael B. Jordan

6 takeaways from the new Creed II trailer

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With new looks at Mary Poppins, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Bumblebee, it’s been a good couple of weeks for movie trailers. Rumors say we may get X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Hellboy trailers in the next week or two, as well.

(Maybe I should restart the “This Week in Trailers” column I used to write for The Comeback).

Included in that assortment of previews is the latest trailer for Creed II, showing a pumped-up Michael B. Jordan ready to take on a piece of Rocky movie mythology.

My review of Creed from 2015

Do you feel like you’ve worked out enough today after watching that? Are you feeling kind of fat and lazy? (That might just be me.) Maybe you have an urge to watch Rocky IV again and relive Rocky vs. Ivan Drago?

The desert replaces Siberia

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Will we get a training montage? Judging from the trailer, it’ll be more than that. We see several clips of Adonis training in the desert for his titanic bout, replacing the urban setting of Philadelphia.

For one thing, it’s an interesting contrast to the harsh, snowy mountain terrain of Russia where Rocky trained for his fight with Drago. But maybe there are some story reasons for the setting as well. Is Adonis trying to get away from everyone (notably Bianca and their child) to hone his focus? Is he trying to set himself apart from Rocky and chart his own path? Does the desert just look cooler on screen?

Whatever happened to Ivan Drago?

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The offspring of Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago facing each other in the ring is the central conflict of Creed II and the big draw for making this sequel. Revenge is such a compelling storyline. But fans of the Rocky series likely also want to know what happened to Drago after losing the Cold War battle in Russia.

It’s easy to imagine that it didn’t go well for the fighter. Perhaps he was exiled to obscure military duty. Maybe the government disowned him entirely, embarrassed by his defeat. What sort of life did he have without the purpose of being the Soviet Union’s greatest champion, without the benefit of those state-of-the-art training facilities (and, since we’re talking about Russia, other performance-enhancing resources)?

An intriguing subplot would be the paths Rocky and Drago have taken during the past 30+ years. At the very least, we’ll get a staredown in the ring between the two fighters-turned-trainers. But hopefully, the script includes something a bit more for some dramatic satisfaction.

Don’t sideline Tessa Thompson

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Tessa Thompson’s role as Bianca in Creed was arguably one of the breakout performances that’s helped her emerge as one of Hollywood’s top young actresses. She was far more than a love interest, portraying a fascinating character with her own career ambitions, dreams which were jeopardized by her increasing hearing loss.

Bianca’s relationship with Adonis has clearly progressed in Creed II, as she’s now the mother of their son. But let’s hope that her character isn’t relegated to being the woman at home worrying about what might happen to her partner. We know what Thompson is capable of after playing Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok and Detroit in Sorry To Bother You. Give her enough to be a dramatic equal to Michael B. Jordan.

Does Rocky still have cancer?

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One of the most compelling storylines of Creed was Rocky Balboa being diagnosed with cancer. The former champ who’s lost everyone he loved — most notably his wife, Adrian — is facing his own mortality.

The scene in which Rocky tells Adonis why he doesn’t want to fight and seek treatment was the shining moment of a performance that should’ve earned Sylvester Stallone an Academy Award. But he’s also inspired by Adonis’s ambition to fight Ricky Conlan and agrees to undergo chemotherapy while continuing to train the younger Creed.

Will Rocky’s cancer still be a part of the story here or will he have gone into remission? Screenwriter Cheo Hodari Coker (showrunner for Marvel’s Luke Cage) and director Steven Caple Jr. surely don’t want to focus too much on Rocky and take the focus away from the title character, but Rocky’s fate is a key story point.

Does Rocky have the movie’s best line?

“He broke things in me that ain’t never been fixed.” Yikes.

The sad third act — or maybe the epilogue — to the Rocky Balboa story is the toll that boxing (and the celebrity that came with it) took on his body and his life. Rocky’s line about Drago underlines that. It’s a warning and cautionary tale to his protege. Who has more to lose here?

“It ain’t worth it,” says Rocky. Will that theme be explored and expanded to Adonis Creed in this movie?

Plenty of workout porn

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Of course, we’ll get a training montage! It’s what helps the Rocky movies live on long past their theatrical and home video releases. We have to see these boxers do crazy things to their bodies, like sprint up snowy mountaintops or lift horse wagons full of rocks — as part of their training regimens.

Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) is no exception, not just whipping battle ropes, but whipping his entire body with them. Who knows what the benefits are — it’s probably great for the shoulders and core — but it sure looks cool. Will Men’s Health or Muscle & Fitness get a cover story on the Creed II workouts?

Creed II enters the ring (or hits theaters) on Nov. 21.

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