The Movie That Made Me Cry [Creed II]

I don’t really cry at movies. In fact, it was only in the last year that I ever cried during a film, and it happened twice. The second time was during Schindler’s List, which makes total sense. I was home alone during a pandemic, watching one of the most heart wrenching movies of all time, and then Itzhak gives Schindler that damn ring (deep breath)… and Schindler realizes how much more he could have done (in an admittedly hammy display of grief), and I laid on my couch and cried for humanity.

But that was the second time, after the dam of tears was burst from an initial cry at a much stranger movie to cry at, Creed II. I kind of wish it had been reversed, and Schindler’s List had been my first movie-cry and that Creed II was a secondary cry after I had already established an ability to cry from watching a good flick.

But no. Creed II was the movie that sparked my tears.

I’ve always loved Rocky movies. Ever since I was a kid, I would plant myself in front of the TV for Rocky movie marathons, enraptured by the training and the fighting and the external conflict that was rooted in something so much deeper and human. Those choreographed fights mimicked so perfectly Rocky’s journey from a bum on the streets, to a somebody, to needing to prove himself and validate his journey, to seeking retribution for his friends and/or country. 

Sports have always been a vehicle to tell stories of conflict in a visual way, and it feels the purest in boxing. One man versus another, swinging their way out of their circumstances. Those ropes box in their entire world and all of its present trouble, and the person in the other corner becomes the human embodiment of their problems. 

And it doesn’t just work in Rocky films. I love The Fighter and Million Dollar Baby. And the arc is rooted in classics like On the Waterfront and Raging Bull. We even apply these ideas to the real world with classic books like The Sweet Science and biopics like Ali, as well as the way Muhammad Ali’s life was portrayed by news and media. Boxing has always served as a symbol of something greater- a simple embodiment of man’s struggle.

So when the Creed movies came along, I should have known they would sucker punch me into loving them. But, just as with Rocky Balboa, I assumed it would be a fan service money grab. Which it was, but all three of them are also great movies because they understand what they are, and because the relationship between man and boxing, and the way movies tell that story now has well-established parameters from a rich history of storytelling.

Then, when I finally got around to streaming Creed II, expecting to like it because of my love of Rocky, but also expecting to find it a bit cheesy and played out (they brought back Drago after all, which was the ultimate nod to just trying to make money), I was blown away by how genuine the story felt. It did not suffer from any contrivance from the previous story, but became a natural offshoot of Adonis’ journey, just like all the additions to Rocky’s life (except for Rocky V, but we don’t talk about Rocky V) felt like a natural extension of his journey. 

But because of a variety of factors- Michael B. Jordan, the modernization of the story, the music, the conflict of trying to be a good husband and father in a messed up and confusing world- this movie shadow boxed my emotions more than any of its predecessors.

I was emotional the entire movie. But let’s fast-forward to his final fight with Drago. 

Adonis’ is a champion only in name, everyone knows he should have lost the last fight, and he should lose this one too. He doesn’t know how to be a father- after all, he grew up without one- and is scared at the very idea of it. And now he must fight the man everyone thinks is greater than him, the offspring of the man who denied Adonis’ his right to a father. And this young Drago becomes Adonis’ fear of parenting, becomes Adonis’ fear that everything he had was merely given to him because of the last name he so loves and hates. And he is afraid of Drago. Adonis was abuse in the last fight, face smashed, ribs broken, beaten into a limping, disfigured version of his former self. And now he must stand in that ring and face it all. And he must fight, with Bianca and Rocky in his corner, and his child waiting for him at home. 

And more so than any previous Rocky installment, this culminating fight does not go smoothly. At points, it does not even feel equal. Drago, bludgeons Creed, knocks him down, incarnates everything Adonis’ feared might happen, making him feel unequal to the task set before him, even more than he already did. Drago gave him every reason to quit. But just as Creed rose up from the pavement in the desert, he rose off of the mat in the ring, Rocky’s music played, Adonis gave that look, through a bloody and battered face, that only Michael B. Jordan can give. And I wept…

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If you liked this, you may also like:
Is Ivan Drago Overhyped? [Rocky IV]
Workout Montages [Rocky, Creed]
Top 50 Favorite Movies List
End Of Year Media Round-Up [2020]
Netflix And The New Made-For-TV Movies
Rewatching TV And Movies

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