Oh, you thought I was done obsessing over Creed II? I’m not. Today the focus of my obsession is what Tessa Thompson brought to her role as Bianca.
The Rocky franchise is all about the underdog story. It’s about triumph in the face of insurmountable circumstances. It’s about striving for an impossible dream. The challenge of every movie, including Creed and Creed II, is to find the depth in the platitudes. The easy way to do that is through a romantic relationship. The emotional anchor of both Creed movies is Bianca and her relationship with Adonis.
Unlike Adrian, who served the emotional anchor purpose in the early Rocky films, Bianca does not solely exist to add complexity to her romantic partner. Creed II is not about Bianca on the surface but she is going through her own underdog story. In Creed, she was playing small shows in Philly. In Creed II, she’s playing concert halls and signing record deals. She’s on her own come-up. She encourages Adonis to move to LA in support of their careers even when Donnie wants to stay in Philadelphia with Rocky. Steven Caple Jr. told Vulture that Tessa Thompson was instrumental in making that storyline happen.
“I don’t want to be pregnant, walking around making him sandwiches and singing to him,’” Caple recalls. “It was a joke. But I put that in the script. Here’s a woman who doesn’t want to be on the back burner for someone else’s career. She still has dreams and goals.”
The “sandwiches and singing” line in Creed II is one of the movie’s sweetest and most intimate moments. Bianca is a mother and a woman in love but she is also an artist who cares deeply about her work. Tessa Thompson did that. As I pointed out in my review, I wish we got to see more of Bianca’s rise from local star to the Rocky universe’s Rihanna.
Yesterday, I compared Bianca to FKA twigs and H.E.R. but Steven Caple Jr. says that while the initial vibe of Bianca’s musical aesthetic was twigs and SZA, as the shoot when on, Bianca’s true inspiration became Rihanna.
“When she’s singing for Adonis on that exit song, we weren’t thinking FKA Twigs anymore,” Caple says. “We needed a song that says, ‘Hey, what’s up? I’m ready for war.’ So we were thinking Rihanna — not Beyoncé — because Rihanna has that edge to her. We wanted to make sure that even with Tessa’s character’s transition and growth that she still maintained that edge.”
OK. Let’s talk about that “exit song” or Adonis’s final walkout song. “I Will Go To War” is a MOMENT in Creed II. When Lainey and I saw it, she said the movie could have sucked and this scene, with Bianca strutting beside Adonis as he goes into battle, would have made up for any of the suckage. Creed II does not suck. This scene is one of the STRONG reasons why. It’s a goosebumps-inducing scene. It’s a “F-CK YEAH” stomp the ground and hit the person sitting beside you scene. The scene is symbolic of the partnership Bianca and Adonis have built. They are walking into the ring together, united by a union built on support and respect. It’s BADASS. The song does have some of Rihanna’s sass and swagger but Tessa Thompson made it uniquely Bianca’s. Steven Caple Jr. also revealed that she co-wrote the track.
“She sang her own songs — she’s legit... And she had a lot of input on writing her songs too… lyrically, she’s a poet. I’m jealous, man. She can do it all!”
Creed II is not Tessa Thompson’s movie but a week after its release; we’re still talking about her performance. Creed II has cemented Michael Bae Jordan’s status as a Movie Star. Tessa is right behind him. If Creed isn’t the franchise that finally does it, will it be the Men In Black reboot? If Tessa can pull this much substance from a side character, I can’t wait to see her thrive in a movie that IS about her.
Here's Tessa at the London premiere of Creed II today.