Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu, who appear as opposing father-son team Ivan and Viktor Drago in Creed II, believe Rocky Balboa star Sylvester Stallone has yet to hear the final bell signaling the end of his 42-year tenure as the character.
“I’ve heard that before,” returning Ivan Drago star Lundgren told Good Morning Britain of Stallone relinquishing his most iconic character. “I don’t really believe it, but we’ll see.”
Munteanu added he expects Stallone to continue on in a diminished role.
“I don’t think so either, but maybe not the big way that he turned out in the Rocky and the Creed franchise,” he said. “I think, like, a smaller role maybe. We’ll see.”
Stallone, who co-wrote Creed II and nearly directed it before the job went to Steven Caple Jr., declared his unofficial retirement from the franchise in an Instagram post published Thursday, calling the Creed sequel “probably my last rodeo” as the former champion fighter.
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I am reposting this because there was a technical difficulty. I just want to thank everyone around the whole wide World for taking the Rocky family into their hearts for over 40 years. It’s been my Ultimate privilege to have been able to create and play this meaningful character. Though it breaks my heart, Sadly all things must pass... and end. I love you Kind and generous people , and The most wonderful thing of all , is that ROCKY will never die because he lives on in you ....
“I thought Rocky was over in 2006 and I was very happy with that. And then all of a sudden this young man presented himself, and the whole story changed,” Stallone said in the video.
“It went on to a new generation, new problems, new adventures. And I couldn’t be happier, because as I step back — as my story has been told — there’s a whole new world that’s gonna be opening up for the audience, for this generation.”
Stallone then thanked Caple and star Michael B. Jordan, who portrays Balboa’s protégé Adonis ‘Donny’ Johnson Creed, son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), before telling Jordan he has to “carry the mantle.”
2006’s Stallone-directed Rocky Balboa was intended as the end of the saga, centered around an aged Balboa returning to the ring 16 years after 1990’s Rocky V proved an unsatisfying end for both the character and the franchise.
Future Black Panther director Ryan Coogler resurrected the then retired franchise in 2015 with Creed, which saw Balboa, now living a quiet and lonely life as a Philadelphia restaurateur, battle cancer as he mentored and trained the boxer son of enemy-turned-friend Apollo Creed.
Creed II is proving a heavyweight contender at the domestic box office, where it has earned $62 million since its debut over the Thanksgiving weekend. The film came in second behind Disney’s animated Ralph Breaks the Internet, with both films contributing to the biggest Thanksgiving box office weekend ever.
The 72-year-old Stallone will next reprise another famed role, that of John Rambo, in Rambo 5: Last Blood, reported to be the final film in that long-running franchise first launched in 1982.