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Creed II marks the ninth appearance of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. Now a retired Heavyweight Champion, Rocky trained the son of his foe-turned-friend Apollo Creed, giving a Stallone a supporting role in the new franchise. The film's star Michael B. Jordan recently said he still played a vital role this round in ensuring Creed II looked authentic on screen. In Jordan's words:
He mastered the art of boxing movies. We lean on him very heavily to make those boxing sequences and those fights authentic and really maximize those moments. We look into the corner for his approval. 'Is that good? Is that not good?' But still, as a filmmaker...he's really involved as much as we need him, but he also allowed Steven to do his thing. It was a really good collaboration.
Sylvester Stallone has had an incredibly hands-on role in the Rocky franchise as the writer and star of the first six films, along with directing half of them as well. He stepped back from behind the camera for the most recent insallments, with Black Panther's Ryan Coogler to co-write and direct Creed in 2015.
After the franchise revival hit the mark at the box office and among critics, it wasn't a surprise that we'd see Adonis Creed and Rocky Balboa team up again for another big fight. Creed II has Sylvester Stallone reprising his role and going back to writing, as screenwriter with Juel Taylor and 30-year-old Steven Caple Jr. as director.
It's great to hear that Sylvester Stallone could strike a balance on set as a collaborator, who could offer his advice and expertise on making a Rocky flick while also letting some new blood take the reins. If you had the most Rocky expert there is at your disposal, it would be a shame not to utilize him while also bringing something new to the table cinematically. Director Steven Caple Jr. also weighed in about the dynamic between him and Stallone on set to Entertainment Weekly. In his words:
[He] had cool creative input that I felt was very helpful in the sense of he's done this for so long that he has a format that just works. He has more experience with Creed. I spoke to Ryan Coogler about it [and] he was saying the same thing. 'He's a collaborator. He was passionate. I don't know how he's going to be on yours, but he definitely had a passion to revive it.' Then when I spoke to [Stallone], I was like, this dude's passion is still on level 100 when it comes to being a character and telling this story.
The sequel sets up some deeply personal stakes for Adonis, who is caught between the desire for redemption and the contention between Rocky and his family to go through with it and fight Viktor Drago.
Sylvester Stallone has could step back and allow younger filmmakers to tell the story of Adonis Creed, because he believes it's important to have a director to speak for this generation as he did for his. While the backbone of Creed II may have some similarities to the Rocky franchise, it's good to have it made through the eyes of another and with Stallone by his side. Creed II hits theaters on Wed. November 21.