In the Rocky universe, it seems, time is a flat circle. As the legendary boxers of yesteryear wilt and hang up their gloves, they are replaced by someone else in their family trees. In the first Creed movie, the next big thing in boxing is—you guessed it—the son of legendary fighter Apollo Creed. (He is also trained by a reluctant Rocky Balboa, who still harbors a soft spot in his heart from the time he and Apollo hugged on the beach in short shorts.) This is a feature, not a bug—and when the tropes of the underdog sports movie are performed by Michael B. Jordan and a resurgent Sylvester Stallone, under the direction of a talented young auteur in Ryan Coogler, you have one of the best blockbusters of the 21st century.
That also means that the movie’s follow-up, Creed II, has meteoric expectations to meet. Coogler is out—he just directed Black Panther, which you almost definitely saw—but Jordan, Stallone, and the seemingly omnipresent Tessa Thompson are all back, with Steven Caple Jr. now in the director’s chair. And what does a Creed sequel need to have? Well, let’s mine the Rocky universe for a direct descendant of another boxing legend.
Hell yes. That is Viktor Drago, son of Dolph Lundgren’s brutish Ivan Drago (Lundgren is also confirmed to reprise his role in the sequel, and I hope to god he and Stallone talk shit the audience can understand only half of). Rocky is worried young Adonis Creed isn’t up for this extremely dangerous new challenge (his wariness is fair: Drago legit killed Apollo in the ring); Adonis wants to live up to his father’s legend; Adonis says this is “more than just a fight”—and so on and so forth. After a few decades, you know how these movies go.
Nevertheless, when you’re bringing back the classics and getting Michael B. Jordan to run through a gantlet of physical challenges that has him looking like Mike Bibby, you know it’s going to be a fun ride. If we’re taking early bets, Adonis Creed will probably be fighting Thunderlips Junior in Creed III, but in the meantime, be sure to check out Creed II and Adonis Creed vs. Viktor Drago come November.