Filmmaker Ryan Coogler is now surely one of the most in-demand directors in Hollywood, fresh off the record-breaking box office and critical success of Black Panther, but he’s been on everyone’s radar for some time now. Coogler took a more traditional path to a blockbuster. He first broke out with his Sundance indie Fruitvale Station, also starring Michael B. Jordan, but instead of going straight to a Jurassic Park sequel or something, Coogler next made a mid-budget studio film: Creed. As it happens, Coogler brought the same level of emotion, thoughtfulness, and tact to Creed as he did to the true-story Fruitvale Station, and the result was a Rocky sequel/reboot that stood as its own incredible film.
Creed was a smashing success and no doubt led to Coogler helming Black Panther, but fans were disappointed to hear that Coogler wouldn’t be back writing and directing Creed 2. Most assumed Coogler’s non-involvement had to do with the timing of the sequel, as it rubbed up against his schedule on Black Panther, and in a new interview with Kristopher Tapley on Variety’s Playback podcast, Coogler confirms exactly why he’s not directing Creed 2:
“I mean of course it was possible. Creed was about my dad and me, so it’s a movie that I find difficult to watch. It’s difficult for me to even think about it, I’ve got so many emotional ties to it, not to mention you know how much I care about the people involved. I care deeply for Mike, obviously, deeply for Tessa, and I grew incredibly close with Sly in making that. These are people that I wanna see do well and win at all costs. There’s timing, and that film for whatever reason it had to go when it’s going. I think it’s a blessing that it’s going, man. It’s amazing that they found an incredible filmmaker in Steven Caple Jr., who’s a guy I actually went to film school with, who I have a lot of love and respect for. I can’t wait to see what he does with it.”
Indeed, MGM and Warner Bros. announced the Creed 2 release date back in January 2016, when Coogler was just getting started prepping his two-year journey with Black Panther. That initial Creed 2 release date was November 2017, so clearly the studios were in a hurry to get this thing going.
That release date didn’t stick, but Creed 2 is now set to start filming imminently as Steven Caple Jr. (The Land) was tapped to take the helm in December after Sylvester Stallone briefly flirted with directing this one himself. Coogler has basically no involvement in this sequel, as Stallone wrote the Creed 2 script with Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, but Michael B. Jordan returns to the starring role in a story that finds him squaring off with Ivan Drago’s (Dolph Lundgren) son.
Even with the release date delay (Creed 2 is now set to hit theaters on November 21, 2018), Coogler couldn’t have possibly directed this one on that timetable. He’s a guy who writes his own scripts or at least is deeply involved in the screenwriting process, which means months of development takes place before filming even begins. Coogler is currently in the midst of the press tour for Black Panther after finishing that Marvel marathon, after which he’ll no doubt want some sort of reprieve, so this one just wasn’t in the cards.