2015’s Creed was better than it really had any right to be, taking the continued story of Rocky Balboa and providing a fresh perspective by introducing us to Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of the late Apollo Creed. Apollo (Carl Weathers), of course was killed in the ring by the Russian propaganda machine Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in an exhibition bout back in the 80s.
This week’s Creed II hopes to build off that good will and tie this new chapter even more closely to the Rocky legacy. After Adonis, in the first movie, worked so hard to live up to his late father’s name now he faces an even more stark reminder of the past. That comes in the person of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man who killed his father all those years ago. Adonis is called out by Viktor and, with the support of his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson), sets out to do what he needs to.
Adonis stands defiantly and stubbornly on the first poster, a giant Roman numeral II in the background. It’s stark and powerful and does its job, which is tell the audience the character is coming back this Thanksgiving. A second poster put Rocky in the same position. Another set showed Adonis in a moment of angst as he kneels on the canvas and Rocky looking on from the other side of the ropes.
Finally all the characters, including both Dragos, are included on the next poster, each set looking defiantly at their counterpart.
Rocky narrates the opening of the first trailer as we see Adonis dealing with the effects of his fight from the last movie. The older fighter is warning him that the unnamed challenger coming after Adonis is dangerous and not to be taken lightly. That’s not stopping the young man, who’s still driven to live up to the name of his father and so we see him training hard to right the wrong done all those years ago. It’s not until the very end that we see the challenger come into frame, the name “Drago” on the back of his robe.
Adonis is ready for the next challenge in the first full trailer, even if that includes getting in the ring with the son of the man who killed his father. That’s something Rocky wants to discourage him from for personal reasons. The main theme of the trailer, though, is that Adonis is stepping back into the ring to help and and support the people he loves and can only do so because of that love and support.
Online and Social
Not much of interest on the movie’s official website, just the skimpiest of information.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The first TV spot, released in mid-October, cut the story down to the basic elements by showing how Drago was calling out Creed, who can’t resist rising to it. Promoted Tweets like this were run in the days leading up to release to drive last-minute ticket sales. Online ads used key art and other images of Jordan to drive traffic to the official site so people can buy tickets.
The website didn’t offer much background on any promotional partners, so the only one that popped up was Nke, which launched the “Adonis Creed Collection” of apparel and gear inspired by the movie and character.
Media and Publicity
The press portion of the campaign kicked off in early August with some stills showing Adonis and Rocky back in action.
In mid-August a video was released showing Jordan surprising a super-fan with a special experience. The actor later spoke about how Stallone pushed for there to be a more specific antagonist in the sequel and how one with ties to the Creed character was seen as a natural fit in that role.
Around the time of the second trailer, Caple spoke about how he was encouraged to take on directorial duties for this movie and the advice he got from both Coogler and Stallone.
A featurette had Jordan talking about how this was his first sequel and how everyone involved wanted to make the story more intense and personal, while everyone praised Caple and his directorial efforts. Another connects this story to the first movie, emphasizing the themes of the past coming back to haunt Rocky and Adonis while a third had the cast and crew talking about the evolution of the characters and how the story focuses on family connections and responsibilities.
A series of featurettes was released in the early part of November, each exploring the background of the main characters in the movie. There were videos for Viktor Drago, his father Ivan, Adonis and Bianca.
Thompson showed up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to talk about the movie a couple weeks before release. At about the same time Lundgren appeared on “The Late Show” in character to have some fun with Russian stereotypes.
An interview with Jordan, Thompson and Caple allowed them to continue talking about how the story focused on the importance of family but also explain how it shows a young professional black couple, something not often seen on screen. Caple was interviewed on his own again, mentioning how he almost passed on the film until Coogler, Stallone and others made him feel comfortable he’d be able to make it his own. He also spoke about the inspirations behind Thompson’s character’s music and performance.
Lundgren was interviewed about how he went about returning to the character after so many years and what went into updating the elder Drago. Jordan and Thompson then spoke about the story and how they enjoyed working together once again, all while Jordan was named GQ’s Man of the Year.
A video for “Shea Butter Baby” from Ari Lennox, one of the news songs on the film’s soundtrack, was released just a few days ago.
After a bit of a shaky start things really kicked into gear when the cast, as well as Caple, got more fully involved and started speaking about the characters and the story. Their personalities and their passion for the project all started coming through more clearly.
That was an even more powerful message than the connections of the story to the rest of the Rocky history. Those elements were still on display, but allowing Jordan, Thompson and the others to get out there and apply their personalities to the publicity campaign.