For the first time in 47 years, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) was absent from a movie in the Rocky franchise with Creed 3, but there are reasons why his old rival Clubber Lang should still return for Creed 4. His nemesis in Rocky III and played by Mr. T, Clubber Lang was a hulking opponent who presented a real challenge for The Italian Stallion, forcing him to really go the distance and put his best ability (taking hits) to the rest. After Rocky defeated Lang in the third round of their last fight he seemed to disappear, never to reappear in another sequel or spinoff again.
While it could be argued that Clubber Lang in Creed 4 would make Stallone’s Rocky absence even worse, Mr. T is still alive and well, and after Dolph Lungren’s nuanced return as Ivan Drago in Creed 2, he could return to shed new light on his character. Since he was responsible for not only Rocky proving himself in the ring but also Mickey’s death, he would have a lot to atone for. After a failed attempt to incorporate him into the script of Rocky Balboa, it’s time to see what became of him.
6 Clubber Lang Had A Huge Influence On The Rocky Franchise
As the villain of Rocky III, Clubber Lang immediately made an impression as portrayed by Mr. T, then an incredibly popular figure in pop culture thanks to the A-Team. He was a larger-than-life personality who seemed like the appropriate opponent for Rocky when his star was on the rise. He didn’t waste any time making his mark on the franchise as a loud, aggressive, domineering villain who pummeled Rocky mercilessly and gave him the fight of his life, even going so far as to call Adrian’s integrity and honor into question.
Ever since Lang’s planned Rocky Balboa return, fans have been waiting to see what became of the brutish boxer, particularly due to the revitalization of the Drago family saga once Ivan and Viktor Drago became redeemed in Creed 2. A Rocky character with such a great effect on the franchise should be included for nostalgic purposes as well as for the fact that he hasn’t received a follow up the way other characters have. After Rocky knocked him out in the third round of their last fight, he was only mentioned in Rocky IV.
5 Clubber Lang Was The Least Well-Developed Rocky Villain
Ivan Drago might have started out being a one-dimensional villain in Rocky IV, but by the time he returned in Creed 2 with a richer, more well-developed backstory, he’d become one of its more sympathetic ones. A product of his environment growing up to be an example of the strength of the USSR, he passed on that diligence to his son Viktor, combined with the years of shame from being beaten by Rocky and embarrassed on the international stage. By contrast, Clubber Lang was Rocky’s worst enemy because he wasn’t redeemable and painted in broad strokes as simply an opponent to prove Rocky wasn’t a has-been.
Lang’s backstory (further hinted at in the game Rocky Legends) involved being orphaned at an early age and spending time on the streets of Chicago before turning to a life of crime and being sent to prison for aggravated assault, where boxing became a way to channel his frustrations. If he was given a redemption arc like Drago in Creed 4, he could be responsible for a boxing gym dedicated to foster children or something equally admirable. Stallone mentioned in social media posts that a plan for Rocky Balboa included Lang’s reformation, so there’s no reason to suggest he had to stay angry and bitter after Rocky III.
4 Amara Can Fight Clubber Lang’s Granddaughter In Creed 4
Prior to “Diamond Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) being made the villain of Creed 3, fans wondered if one of Clubber Lang’s offspring might be returning to fill that void, and now it can still happen through a boxing storyline with the daughter of Adonis Creed. After being bullied at her school, Amara shows an interest in fighting, and after cautioning her to use violence to solve her problems, Donnie agrees to show her a few drills in the ring. If Creed 4 does decide to push Amara into the spotlight as a boxer under Donnie’s tutelage, having her fight the granddaughter of Clubber Lang could be an exciting development.
The success of movies like Million Dollar Baby and Girlfight have set a precedent for a female-driven boxing story, and it could be the fresh direction the franchise needs to take to appeal to a wider demographic. It also presents the chance, such as with Lang’s granddaughter, for legacy characters to return to the franchise even decades after they were last seen. It would be interesting to see the Lang family dynamic, particularly since Clubber Lang often had unsavory things to say about women in general, and would need to have changed his ways to coach his granddaughter.
3 Rocky Already Got Closure At The End Of Creed 2
While it was strange not seeing The Italian Stallion in Donnie’s corner in Creed 3, the movie emphasized Apollo’s son needing to work through his challenges on his own. It also took place in Los Angeles, not Philadelphia, where Rocky had already gotten closure in his own after reconciling with his son Robert for the umpteenth time. After meeting his grandson Logan in Creed 2, it seemed like for once, he was going to put his family over his boxing career and cherish the time he had to spend with them outside the ring.
Even though Clubber Lang’s Creed 4 Return could redefine Rocky’s franchise, Rocky doesn’t need to be a part of that. If possible, Rocky can have his own movie exploring the developments in his neighborhood and the demolition of a bygone era of cultural significance, pivoting away from conflicts that always occur in the ring. The Balboa family peace of mind wouldn’t need to be upset again by the presence of Lang and the memory of Adrian.
2 Creed 4 Needs A New Villain With Diamond Dame’s Underdog Story
After transforming Diamond Dame from the ultimate villain, Creed 3 replaced Rocky when it made Dame the new underdog, leaving his story open for a redemption arc himself. That would mean Creed 4 would have a void open for a new villain, one that Lang could fulfill easily even if he never set foot in a ring. Lang was able to psychologically damage his opponents long before his fists found their faces, leading to them being disoriented and emotional on fight day.
Creed 3 made Dame’s story complex and human, particularly as a child of the foster care system who, like Lang, used boxing to help him cope with life’s unfairness. Watching Donnie live the life intended for him created a resentful monster waiting to lash out at those he cared about, and ultimately he knew that pursuing the World Heavyweight Championship after getting out of prison would destroy one chance at happiness with his friend in the pursuit of another. Creed 4has the chance to fulfill something similar with Clubber Lang’s character, who deserves to be more than just a one-dimensional monster.
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