Now this would have been awesome. An earlier version of Sylvester Stallone’s screenplay for Creed II included a momentary vision of Apollo Creed.
The ghostly moment would have appeared in the scene in which Adonis is recovering in the hospital from his first battle with Viktor Drago. While drifting in and out of blurry consciousness, Donnie would see his father standing in the corner of the hospital room.
Ultimately, this scene, which would have been Carl Weathers’ much-desired return to the series, was scrapped by the film’s director, Steven Caple, Jr.
“In regards to tone, it wasn’t on my level of where I was going with the film,” Caple said. “Sly had it in just as an idea we could use, but I thought it might throw people off. And then I was thinking what does Apollo wear? Is it Carl Weathers today or from back in ‘Rocky IV’?”
Obviously, the vision wouldn’t have been of Apollo Creed as he’d appear in 2018, since he died (according to the film) back in 1985. But some sort of street-clothes wardrobe might have been just the right look.
“Get up, son”: The Voice of Apollo Creed
Okay, so Sly’s vision of Apollo didn’t pan out, but how about using Carl Weathers’ voice?
Caple toyed with the idea of including an inspirational voiceover by Weathers during the final Creed/Drago fight, at the moment when Donnie has fallen to the canvas, beating it with his boxing gloves as he feels the grit to get up one more time.
At this moment, Apollo Creed’s voice would have been heard, saying: “Get up, son.”
Does that give you chills, or what? On our first viewing of Creed II, we actually – for a split second – thought that the feet standing next to Donnie down on the canvas WERE going to be those of Apollo. As it turned out, it was just the Russian ref’s feet. Bummer.
Caple actually tested out this “Get up, son” idea and got another actor to record the dramatic line of dialogue and included it in one version of the edit, but decided that it didn’t work. “It just felt like it came out of nowhere,” Caple explained of his decision. “At that point it’s [Adonis’] own family that’s making him get up, not his father anymore.” So this little gem, like the vision of Apollo’s ghost, was also scrapped.
This is really a shame, since there can’t be many more opportunities to take advantage of original Rocky series cast members in whatever future Creed films there may be. It seems a waste not to have gotten Weathers to record just these three words; it wouldn’t have taken away from Donnie’s own storyline, but it would have meant the world to us Rocky fans.