NOTE: This piece was written prior to the release of “Creed” before many of the plotline details were revealed.
All the buzz around the new “Creed” film has fans talking – just who is Apollo Creed’s son?
While this film was in the early stages of production, the media reported that “Creed” would focus on the story of Apollo Creed’s grandson Adonis. In February, 2015, Warner Brothers released its official synopsis which indicates that the story is about Creed’s son (not grandson):
“Adonis Johnson never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.”
The title role in “Creed” is being ably handled by 28-year-old actor Michael B. Jordan, a handsome face who has the looks and style to carry off the Creed family name. But according to Warner Bros. release, his character is introduced as ‘Adonis Johnson’, not Adonis Creed.
Based on the full trailer released in September, 2015, we learn that Adonis or “Donny”, as Rocky calls him, grew up in foster care and spent time in juvenile hall and had a brief stay in prison. Why he was raised by a foster family (perhaps named Johnson?) rather than his mother Mary Anne Creed, is yet unknown.
UPDATE 11/6/15: Actress Phylicia Rashad who portrays Apollo’s wife clarifies the question of Adonis’ heritage with this comment: “Mary Anne is Apollo Creed’s widow and some years after his death, she goes and finds Adonis. Somewhere in the relationship there had been a rocky period, and Apollo had a relationship with another woman, and out of that relationship was born this young boy. But Apollo passed before the young boy Adonis was born.”
The Creed Family Timeline
Hardcore fans will understand the difficulties in making the timeline for “Creed” realistic when taken in context with the entire Rocky series. Let’s lay out the facts …
TIME TO GO TO SCHOOL, SON
It is easily forgotten that Apollo Creed has two children, a boy and a girl, both of whom are merely glimpsed in a brief scene with their mother, Mary Anne Creed, played by actress Sylvia Meals in Rocky II.
The kids, who appear to be around 7 or 8 years old, run through the Creed house ahead of their mother, the little girl clutching her doll, the boy looking suave in a red turtleneck. Neither child was credited in the movie.
Rocky II, although filmed in 1978, is meant to take place during 1976 following Rocky and Apollo’s very first match which would mean that Apollo’s young son must have been born around 1969, making him about 46 years old today.
That leaves an 18 year gap between Apollo’s known son and the character of Adonis. Where did the time go?
Rocky IV, filmed towards the end of 1984, opens with Rocky returning home after his one-on-one sparring session with Apollo, which took place at the end of Rocky III.
In the chronology of the series, that sparring session would have taken place roughly at the end of 1981. We’re basing this on the fact that Mickey Goldmill’s headstone reads that he died on August 15, 1981.
The story then followed that Rocky became discouraged, went to Los Angeles with Apollo to get back the eye of the tiger, and then battled Clubber Lang some weeks later in 1981.
IF HE DIES, HE DIES
The release also hints that Adonis “never knew his famous father”, meaning that Apollo was dead before Adonis was born.
This would mean that Mary Anne Creed would had to have been (perhaps unknowingly) pregnant with Adonis during Apollo’s fatal match with Ivan Drago, or that another woman was involved. According to this jumbled timeline, this means that Apollo Creed must have died at some point in 1982, leaving his mystery son to be born in 1982-83.
This reasoning makes the idea of the “Creed” film a bit more plausible since the actor portraying Adonis was born in 1987.
It may also explain the name Adonis Johnson; it’s possible that Mary Anne Creed remarried and her child took the new husband’s name. But what about the little boy from Rocky II? Perhaps only the most dedicated Rocky fans even realize that he existed, and to the general moviegoing public, whether or not he is referenced doesn’t matter in the least. Maybe we Rocky purists can consider the forgotten Rocky II son to be Adonis’ unmentioned older brother.
Finally, the synopsis doesn’t mention Rocky Junior, last portrayed in Rocky Balboa by actor Milo Ventimiglia, which is just as well since Stallone has described “Creed” as “Creed 1, not Rocky 7.” Still, it’s made the public wonder – why not a film about Rocky’s son becoming a boxer? In the years since Balboa, Ventimiglia has certainly beefed up to the point of being a believable bruiser.