The Übermensch Who Thinks He’s An Underdog
I saw the Creed 2 movie. Here’s the problem with the Creed films: Adonis Creed is not an underdog. In the first movie, he worked in a nice office and lived in a Brentwood mansion with his mother. Then he went to see Rocky, got swole, and fought a boxer who had no motivation or personality. Good for him. Such a nice boy.
In this sequel, Creed is even less of an underdog. He wins the title and gets married to hip-hop Bjørk, who has his baby. Yes, things go south for him at one point. But he still gets to move into a nice L.A. loft and drive a vintage Mustang. No one ever stops loving him even though he’s a self-absorbed nincompoop. In fact, he never loses anything, though he almost loses a kidney at one point. Michael B. Jordan plays Creed as all vulnerability, but no depth. He’s a genuine movie star, but he had a lot more to work with as Killmonger.
CREED 2 ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Steven Caple, Jr.
Written by: Juel Taylor, Sylvester Stallone
Starring:Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu
Running time: 130 min.
Creed fights Viktor Drago, the son of the man who killed his father. In the movie’s best touch, Dolph Lundgren is back as Ivan Drago, with a decent haircut and a non-cartoonish motivation. In fact, the Drago story line is way more interesting than Creed’s. The original Rocky worked so well because Rocky Balboa fought back from nothing. He trained in a meat locker. Viktor Drago, the son of the biggest loser in the Ukraine, works in an industrial yard, stacking concrete blocks. He’s an alien being who hates America for good reason. Meanwhile, America’s best mopes around, trying to figure out how to change a diaper.
Rocky Balboa, in 1976, represented an America on the ropes, crushed by Vietnam and Watergate and a 200-year malaise. Adonis Creed doesn’t mention America at all, nor does he wear his father’s star-spangled shorts. In fact, he abandons Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States, for Los Angeles, the place where all our dreams and ideals go to die. Rocky stays behind to make pasta and tries to get the city to make street repairs. In other words, he’s still the underdog, a true Deplorable.
Throughout the movie, Creed is surrounded by desperate working-class people who need redemption on his behalf. The Dragos whale away but cannot knock out bougie Superman. Creed trains in some unnamed Arizona desert locale, lifting weights with his neck and beating up buff Mexicans who don’t get any dialogue. His deaf musician wife keeps her career going despite his crushing ego. Sylvester Stallone lumbers about in his late-Yoda phase. It’s all to serve the hero.
Creed doesn’t represent America, and he doesn’t represent the little guy. Blasphemously, I almost found myself rooting for Viktor Drago to win the final fight, not because of any anti-American sentiment, but because it’s always fun to see the actual underdog win. In the end, Drago gets to keep his dad. But Creed, whether he deserves them or not, gets all the marbles.