'Creed': Is torch-passing a successful Hollywood strategy?

'Creed' stars 'Fantastic Four' actor Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, son of boxer Apollo Creed, but it also brings back actor Sylvester Stallone to reprise his role as boxer Rocky Balboa.

Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Creed' stars Michael B. Jordan (l.) and Sylvester Stallone (r.).

The title of the movie may be “Creed,” but Rocky’s there, too.

The upcoming movie “Creed” stars “Fantastic Four” actor Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, aspiring boxer and son of Rocky Balboa’s famous opponent Apollo Creed. Adonis is trained by Rocky (Sylvester Stallone).

The new film is the newest in the “Rocky” series after the 2006 film “Rocky Balboa,” which also stars Stallone and brought on Milo Ventimiglia as his son Robert. “Balboa” was the sixth in the series. 

This new film brings a fresh focus to the story, with Rocky appearing but the story centering on Adonis.

“Creed” is the newest in a line of film series that have brought back actors who previously appeared in beloved installments but also recruited new talent. 

Bringing on actors from previous installments serves as comfort to fans of the original movies, but bringing on new talent preserves the possibility of future films, especially if original actors are older. It's safe to say Hollywood always wants the new possibility of more movies.

In one example, the first three “Indiana Jones” films star Harrison Ford and for the fourth, 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Ford appeared but so did actor Shia LaBeouf as his son Mutt. The possibility of Mutt taking on the role of lead adventurer is teased as overtly as it could be at the end of “Skull”; Mutt picks up Indy’s famous hat and almost puts it on.

Sometimes this strategy can be the saving grace, if any, of a film. This summer’s “Terminator Genisys” brought back actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in previous “Terminator” installments, and also recruited new talent like “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke. The movie was negatively received, but some reviewers praised Schwarzenegger’s performance. 

This plan will be used in what is possibly the most high-profile example of all come this December. The upcoming “Star Wars” film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” stars original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill but also brings on new talent like actors Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega. Presumably Isaac, Ridley, and/or Boyega’s characters could star in new adventures if the series moves forward and Ford, Fisher, and Hamill want out.

So far, “Creed” is getting good reviews, so the “Rocky” series at least seems to have succeeded with this strategy.

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