Amidst Fight for Identity, Creed II Focuses on Fatherhood and Family

Creed II highlights the importance of fathers and prioritizing family over fame. That makes it much more than a boxing movie.

By Aaron Welty Published on December 3, 2018

Note: This story contains some movie spoilers. 

As Hollywood continues to lean on nostalgia and franchises, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) enters the ring again with Creed II. Recent reports indicate this entry is his last time to play the fictional boxing legend, and it’s a powerful climax.

Continuing the story of 2015’s surprise hit Creed, this sequel resumes the story of Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan). Donnie is the son of the late Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) from the Rocky films.

More Than A Simple Sequel

Adonis is once again fighting for the boxing championship title. Unlike the ending to Creed, he actually wins the fight. In the aftermath of victory, Donnie overcomes his nerves to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Bianca (Tessa Thompson).

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, someone is training to fight him. It’s Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of defeated and dejected Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lungren). Ivan fought Rocky following Apollo Creed’s death in Rocky IV.

Afterwards, Drago lost his fame, fortune and family. He lost everything, including his wife, because of his failure in the ring. Defeat led to punishment and exile. Ivan now trains his son to restore the name Drago.

More than a sequel to Creed, this entry echoes both Rocky II and Rocky IV. From story structure, dialogue and training montages, and even shocking cameos, this film leaves no stone unturned. The narrative tells of unfinished struggles that fathers leave their sons.

Facing the Mirrors of Fatherhood and Family

Amidst training for a fight Rocky thinks he should avoid, Donnie becomes a father. In classic Rocky fashion, the first confrontation leaves a boxer beaten, bruised and broken.

Newborn life provides a worthwhile “why” and fortitude to fight on. This forges a new identity to help fill the void left by his late, famous father.

Adding a welcome layer of complexity is Bianca’s career as a musician. Her success blossoms alongside the reality of deafness. It’s perceived “inability” that highlights her craft but also raises quality of life concerns for her child. Will her challenges be visited upon the next generation? 

Creed II handles disability and legacy in a beautiful way that affirms life and the strength of family.

Creed II handles disability and legacy beautifully, while affirming life and the strength of family. All the while, personal moments for team Creed are mirrored by a cruel coldness inset within the Drago dynasty. These elements breathe life into and ground a tale that could easily feel phoned in, but isn’t.

Brokenness, Restoration and the Boxing Ring

These challenges foster perseverance and strengthen character. Rocky seeks relational restoration with forgotten family, via encouragement from a surrogate son. Seeing in his longtime nemesis the father he doesn’t want to be also resonates. Meanwhile, Adonis Creed forges something new, something his father never had: future hope.

For the Drago Dynasty, brokenness stemming from past failure leads to a father’s begrudging love. A lesson that family, even broken, is of greater value than fame. It’s in the final moments of the fight between Adonis and Victor that family makes all the difference. It leaves one son vanquished and the other victorious.

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For a series to retain what’s made it great is no small accomplishment. The Rocky series has understood the times and reflected depth across decades. Creed II continues this trend.

If there was a moment to throw in the towel, it would be now. It’s best for the champ to retire on top, and it seems Rocky himself is intent on doing just that.


Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality, Creed II is in theaters now. Watch more insights on the movie below. Explore The Stream’s complete films coverage, and sign up to receive top stories every week.

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