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It's been a little over a week since Creed II came out, and the sequel has been doing quite well for itself both critically and commercially. Just like with the first Creed movie, Sylvester Stallone reprised Rocky Balboa, but yesterday, Sylvester Stallone indicated that Creed II was his last time playing the character. However, Dolph Lundgren, who returned for Creed II as Ivan Drago, doesn't think we've seen the last of the Italian Stallion. As Lundgren put it:
I've heard that before. I don't really believe it, but we'll see.
Dolph Lundgren does have a point, as there've already been three separate occasions when it looked like Sylvester Stallone was hanging up the boxing gloves for good. 1990's Rocky V was the first, and given how critically derided that movie was, no doubt there were a lot of fans who were thankful when Rocky Balboa arrived 16 years later. That movie provided a much better conclusion to Rocky's boxing career, but nine years, he was back again, but this time as coach and mentor. Now we've come to a third instance where it seems we've seen the last of Rocky, but Lundgren isn't so sure this is the end.
I don't think so either, but maybe not the big way that he turned out in the Rocky and the Creed franchise. I think, like, a smaller role maybe. We'll see.
In case you missed Sylvester Stallone's original message about Rocky on Instagram, you can read it below:
I just want to thank everyone around the whole wide World for taking the Rocky family into their hearts for over 40 years. It's been my Ultimate privilege to have been able to create and play this meaningful character. Though it breaks my heart, Sadly all things must pass... and end. Keep punching, I love you Kind and generous people, and Rocky loves you too.
He doesn't come right out and say he's retiring as Rocky, but it sounds like he's made up his mind. Still, things can change, and perhaps Florian Munteanu has the right idea predicting that Sylvester Stallone could return for Creed III in a smaller capacity. There's no rule that says that Stallone has to have a leading role in the Creed movies since Adonis is the star of the show. To be fair, though, Creed II did lay the groundwork for Rocky to bid a final farewell.
Warning: SPOILERS for Creed II are ahead!
As was made abundantly clear in the marketing, Creed II was an indirect sequel to Rocky IV. Creed established that Adonis was the son of the late Apollo Creed and followed Adonis as he embarked on his own boxing career, but Creed II saw Adonis coming face-of-face with Ivan Drago, the man who killed Apollo more than 30 years ago, and duking it out with Viktor Drago in the ring.
But Ivan's return also dredged up pain that had gone unhanded for years. Remember, Rocky could have called off the fight between Ivan and Apollo when things were looking bad for the latter, but Apollo told him not to, and he subsequently died in Rocky's hands. And as Rocky told Adonis about his own fight with Apollo, "He broke things in me that ain't never been fixed." Clearly Rocky hadn't fully gotten over what happened with Ivan, and even made a point of confirming to Ivan that he wouldn't hang any pictures of their fight in his restaurant.
Rocky initially declined helping Adonis train for his first fight against Viktor Drago, which resulted in a temporary divide between the two that was healed when Adonis' mother, Mary Anne, asked Rocky to help Adonis gets out of his mental slump following his defeat. Both men resolved for a re-match, they headed to Mexico for a different kind of regiment, and that was just the ticket to Adonis emerging victorious in his second fight against Viktor. Adonis got closure when it came to carrying on Apollo's legacy, and when he invited Rocky to come into the ring immediately after the fight was over, Rocky declined, saying "It's your time."
It wasn't just the Dragos that Rocky Balboa had to wrestle with in Creed II. The also established that Rocky was estranged from his son, Robert, and he hadn't even met his grandson, Logan. But after Adonis beat Viktor at the end, Rocky traveled to Vancouver to mend his relationship with Robert and build a fresh one with Logan.
Between guiding Adonis Creed to continue his boxing career on his own and wanting to spend time with his son's family, Creed II certainly could be a good time to shut the door on Rocky Balboa for good. Assuming Sylvester Stallone sticks to his guns and doesn't plan on playing Rocky again, it will be interesting to see how the character's absence is addressed. It could be something as simple as saying that Rocky moved to Vancouver to be closer to his family, or maybe Creed III would go so far as to actually kill off Rocky, leaving Adonis to cope with losing the man who's been like a father to him.
If Creed III goes the killing route, maybe whoever's leading the charge on that project could convince Sylvester Stallone to at least cameo, thus fulfilling Florian Munteanu's idea of him having a smaller role. However, Stallone's presence isn't absolutely necessary to make that work. Then again, we don't even know what the future of the Creed franchise looks like, as Creed III hasn't officially gotten the green light yet. If/when it does, fans will surely want to know as soon as possible whether or not Stallone will participate.