Michael B. Jordan is putting on the gloves for the upcoming Rocky spinoff Creed, and as you can see in the first trailer above, there are plenty of callbacks to the older films in the franchise, including a torch-passing supporting turn for Rocky Balboa himself.
Sylvester Stallone surfaces at the 1:38 mark; in this film, helmed by Jordan’s Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, the veteran slugger takes on the role of mentor, not unlike Burgess Meredith’s Mickey in the early films.
Creed, the seventh film in the four-decade-old series, and the first since 2006’s Rocky Balboa, stars Jordan as Adonis Creed, son of Rocky’s late rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). In addition to his co-starring role, Stallone also co-wrote the screenplay.
The trailer starts off with an intimate look at the younger Creed in intense, pre-fight mode as he prepares to emerge from what looks to be an abandoned wine cellar. Shots of urban Philadelphia follow. Then, we’re reminded that Creed’s “daddy died in the ring.” Remember, Soviet fighter Drago (Dolph Lundgren) felled Apollo in Rocky IV after he refused to heed Balboa’s pleas to throw in the towel.
Adonis reveals he never knew his dad. Indeed, he clearly is too young to have known Apollo before he died in 1985.
The Creed trailer manages to maintain the same kind of gritty realism Coogler displayed with Fruitvale Station, while making several references to the earlier films. There’s a vintage photo of Apollo fighting Rocky from the “10th round of the first fight” between them. Adonis tells Rocky about their third fight “behind closed doors,” a nod to their friendly sparring in Rocky III. The younger Creed runs through Philly in a black beanie and gray sweats, similar to Rocky’s training gear decades ago. In the ring, Adonis sports the same star-spangled trunks favored by his dad. And, if you listen closely at the very end of the trailer, you’ll hear three very familiar notes.
Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) plays Bianca, Adonis’s romantic interest — as seen in a peek at one steamy love scene. And Phylicia Rashad plays his mom, Mary Anne Creed, a role originated by actress Lavelle Roby in 1976’s Rocky and assumed by Sylvia Meals in subsequent Rocky films.
Since Creed hits theaters Nov. 25, we have to wonder, is it positioned to be an awards season contender?