Tale of the Tape: ‘Creed’ Trailer 2 vs. ‘Creed’ Trailer 1

A new trailer for Warner Bros. Rocky spinoff, Creed, starring Michael B. Jordan dropped today. Here it is:

Oooh, shivers!

If you’re like us (i.e. huge Rocky fans who hungrily devoured the first trailer and are already in deep on #2), you may have noticed this one strikes a slightly different tone than the first.

In fact, while the first trailer seemed all about setting the tone, this one gave us some nice combinations on the plotline.

So we thought we’d set them up side by side and let the two trailers punch it out for Creed trailer dominance. (And if you need a refresher on the first trailer, you can find it here.) Let’s send it to our ringside announcer.

Ahem.

 

Trailer #1 comes out of the gate pulling a Rocky II move: hiding it’s true southpaw nature (that it’s a Rocky movie), and showing what we expect from the movies these days:

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That’s right, it’s Michael B. Jordan, probably the movie’s second best asset. Nevermind the implosion of Fantastic Four, Jordan is one of the brightest young movie stars on the planet (if you haven’t seen Fruitvale Station, you should, especially because Creed director Ryan Coogler also directed that movie).

But Trailer #2 matches with nice forward jab, the star in prison.

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We’ll also call it the more Apollo Creed-esque of the two. It comes out standing tall and looking to dish out a beating, with Rocky and a callback to the original films appearing in the opening salvo.

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For what it’s worth, Trailer #1 includes the picture, too, but much later on. We’ll get to that.

What’s pretty great about Trailer #1 is that it gets you solidly hooked on the movie before it ever reveals that it’s a sequel to Rocky. The first real hint comes about 47 seconds in when Adonis “Donny” Johnson’s (yeah, not “Creed.” Better believe we’ll get to that in a second.) trainer says that his father died in the ring – this, of course, a reference to Apollo’s death at the hands of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. But up until about 1:30, it could be any boxing movie, setting up age-old conflicts of a rough young man finding his way in the world, but doing so through the dramatically underserved lens of the black American experience.

In our battle of trailers, it’s nothing showy, but it’s constant pressure. One slip up on the part of Trailer #2 and it’ll strike a powerful blow.

But Trailer #2 counters by building up both Donny’s backstory and his relationship with Rocky. Quickly we understand the growing camaraderie between the two that the jail scene and the picture of Rocky vs. Apollo set up.

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But maybe even more importantly, by its halfway point Trailer #2 hits us with its big shot. “What are you afraid of?” asks Bianca (played by Tessa Thompson). “Taking on the name and losing,” says Donnie.

Ok, I promised I’d get back here. In the official credits, Donnie’s last name is listed as “Johnson.” So it seems pretty clear that the arc here is all about self-actualization. At around 42 seconds into the trailer, we see a cocky and careless Donny get knocked out.

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It’s a kidney shot from Trailer #2.

But really, that’s just the opening round from each. We’ll call the first round for Trailer #2, but it’s close. And as someone once said, “It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

For Trailer #1, round 2 picks up with the moment it makes it clear this is a capital-“R” Rocky movie, and asks one of the biggest questions of the series: who won the third fight between Rocky and Apollo? Of course, the knockout blow would be if it answered the question, but the question alone is enough to put Trailer #2 on its heels.

But only for a moment, because Trailer #2 is moving forward. If the series history that underlies Creed is a boat, this trailer is ready to paddle, giving Donnie his own Apollo figure to face off against. It keeps asking the question: Is Donnie a real Creed? Or is he just a cheap copy?

But lest you think the movie itself is merely a copy of the original Rocky, Trailer #2 delivers the counterpunch in the form of a subplot about Rocky being sick, possibly even looking death in the eyes.

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It’s another tight round, but on this one we’ll give Trailer #1 the edge. As great a character arc as Trailer #2 sets up for Donnie, it’s hard to top potential answers to some decades-old questions.

So we enter round three at a tie. The decider? The callback at the end of each trailer. And like the best fights of the Rocky films, they stand toe to toe trading blows.

Trailer #1 comes out swinging with a visual reference to what might be the most iconic of all Rocky moments: a grey-sweatsuited fighter sprinting down the street.

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That might be unbeatable, if not for a joke calling back to one of the more amusing training gags in the series:

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It’s the unexpected blow that so often decides a fight. “Chickens are slowing down.” It’s a narrow victory, but chalk one up for Trailer #2.

Creed hits theaters November 25th. Better believe we’ll be there.

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