Warning! The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Creed 2. Read at your own risk!

Creed II has gotten some solid acclaim since its release, and I think a lot of that is due to more than it just being the thrilling "sequel" to one of the most memorable Rocky films of all time. Was it cool to see Ivan Drago and Rocky meet again? Sure, but the peak of this story really shines in the background and rivalry with Ivan's son. Put simply, we need more Viktor Drago in future Creed features.

For starters, even given the outcome of the final fight, it's hard to believe Viktor will be denied another shot at the title down the line. Let's not forget the grind he went through to become #1 contender when Adonis was in recovery, and now they're basically tied with one another. Sure Adonis technically won that first fight via disqualification, but even he knew he didn't have a chance against Viktor before the knockout blow.

The disqualification in particular is a scene I loved in Creed II, and one that does a lot to establish how deep his character really is. Does the knockout happen because Viktor is so eager to please his father that he gets lost in the moment, or is because of his lack of professional boxing experience? After all, a bulk of his experience was gained in low rent boxing bouts in the Ukraine, where the officiating is certainly a bit looser.

What does seem clear is that Viktor is not Ivan. Where Rocky IV's villain was rather one-dimensional in his intentions and development, there's a whole lot more going on with Viktor. He's not the groomed pride of his nation. He's the impoverished son of a disgraced fighter whose own mother abandoned him. He's hungry for the success and approval he was denied growing up and determined to go through whoever it takes to achieve it.

The Adonis Creed matchup is personal for Viktor, but I don't think it is in the sense that he hates the Creed family. The matchup is simply a way for the unknown and unproven fighter to fast track through the ranks, much like how Rocky did in his first match against Apollo Creed. Viktor is certainly gruff and intimidating, but it's hardly fair for anyone to label him as "evil" even in his worst moments.

Hell, you even feel for the guy when he and Ivan are invited to the formal Russian dinner, and the two are placed across the table from Ludmilla. Her apathy towards seeing him and her cold greeting clearly cut through him like a knife. If you wanted Viktor to beat Adonis a second time after witnessing that, I don't blame you.

Now compare all of that to what we get of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. You can't because, if anything, Viktor is ironically closer to the Creed franchise's Apollo. It's not necessary for these movies to follow in the footsteps of the Rocky movies and establish a rival for Adonis, but they've already done 90% of the work in setting Viktor up as that guy in Creed II.

On top of that, Creed II ends with both Ivan and Viktor on this redemptive arc. Ivan can never apologize for the past, but he certainly seems to realize the dream of winning back Russia's love is far less important to him than the son who was with him when no one else was. Ivan's realization will allow him to go easier on Viktor, which I think has the potential to make him a better fighter.

The point I'm trying to make here is that Creed II invested a lot of screen time into a compelling origin story for Viktor, so it would be a shame if he goes the way of Ricky Conlan following this movie. This was the first time I've felt real sympathy for any Creed/Rocky villain, and who would've thought they'd walk out of the theater thinking that given the character's roots?

And again, the Adonis and Viktor scorecard is still 1-1 in my book. Any report that the two would fight again in a future adventure, regardless of the Rocky II vibes it would give others, would legitimately have me more excited than learning a new opponent is entering the picture. Seriously, who could be brought up next that's more exciting? Clubber Lang's son?

The only issue I see in bringing Viktor Drago back is finding a way to make that story compelling from Adonis' angle. The well has run dry on the "avenging dad" angle, so the filmmakers would need to bring in another kind of story that keeps his half of the film engaging. Luckily, the franchise already has its next big story for Adonis ready to go whenever it decides to pull the trigger on Rocky's death.

Should that script ever come, then Viktor is the obvious choice for the opponent. His backstory is already laid out, so a writer wouldn't be bogged down with establishing a new opponent and could dedicate the rest of the time to Adonis grieving and mourning. A lavish funeral, cameo appearances, maybe even a Force Ghost Apollo if the situation calls for it. It could even happen post-Rocky's death, which might be ideal considering Sly announcing he's done playing the character.

In summary, there are many ways Viktor Drago can live on in this franchise, and his character is deep enough that he deserves a part in another adventure. Whether that's as Adonis' friend or foe is for Hollywood to decide, I just want to see the foreign anti-hero get another shot at the belt and a chance to make his father proud. After all, isn't this franchise built on underdog stories?

Creed II is currently in theaters and is having quite a run at the moment. For more on the franchise, be sure to read up on Dolph Lundgren's request for Creed III, or check out the five ways the franchise expands the saga overall.

Tessa Thompson and Michael B. Jordan on Creed II and More

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