[WARNING: This trailer contains MILD SPOILERS.]

This year in film has been defined by iconic Hollywood franchises return after years (or decades) of being dormant. Most of these projects are big budget, sci-fi affairs such as Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trend extends to other genres too, such as sports drama; hence, the Rocky series is making comeback by the way of a spinoff titled Creed.

In the film, an older and wiser Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is tasked with training young fighter Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), who is the son of Rocky’s rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed. Warner Bros. is gearing up to release the film in theaters over the 2015 Thanksgiving frame, which is why a new trailer (see above) has been unveiled.

The first Creed trailer was very much a teaser – one that established the tone and style that director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) is going for. In contrast, trailer #2 dives head first into establishing main narrative points, such as setting up Adonis’ character arc. He’s painted as a rowdy troublemaker whose antics can sometimes lead him to a jail cell, and it looks like he needs some guidance in his life – having gone through a rough childhood (after his father died before he was born), leading him to become a (professional) fighter.

One of the themes in this trailer is Adonis’ personal fear of taking on his father’s name and fighting as a Creed. Anyone who is familiar with the Rocky franchise knows that Apollo was considered one of the best champions of all-time, and he would certainly cast a large shadow over anyone who tried to follow his footsteps (especially his son). Much like in the original film where Rocky had to prove his worth, a big part of Creed will be Adonis showing that he’s an honorable successor to the Creed legacy – and undergoing tremendous personal growth on his quest to be one of the best.

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed Creed Trailer #2: Caught in the Shadow


Of course, one of the most noteworthy parts of this trailer is further details into the Rocky character. The official Creed synopsis hinted that Balboa would be going through some personal problems as he trained Adonis, and this trailer spells it out that Rocky is struck by an illness (most likely cancer). The emotional impact of this may have been better left for the film (same goes for the state of Rocky’s loved ones), but at the same time it does set up a powerful, heartfelt relationship between Rocky and Adonis (with echoes of a young Rocky and Mick), as the pair help one another out with their own struggles.

All in all, Creed looks like it can be a very strong addition to the Rocky canon when it comes out. Coogler is clearly sticking with the series’ gritty, dramatic roots (as opposed to the ’80s camp that personified several of the Rocky sequels), offering a narrative that seems to be as hard-hitting as some of the toughest opponents Rocky faced in his career. There’s the potential here for a lot of meaty substance that takes audiences on an emotional roller coaster… and with Creed hitting theaters in the thick of awards season, maybe it can return the franchise to Oscar glory, too.

Creed will open in U.S. theaters on November 25th, 2015.

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures