Words by ReBecca Theodore-Vachon
You can nickname Ryan Coogler “Mr. Impossible.” Reviving Hollywood franchises successfully is no easy feat, but the Bay Area native had the last laugh, as Creed became a critic and audience favorite in 2015. A lifelong Rocky fan, Coogler came up with the idea for Creed while his father battled a debilitating disease. Reuniting with Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan, Coogler updated the franchise by creating the character of Adonis Creed, the secret lovechild of Apollo Creed.
To date Creed has grossed over $100 Million domestically and its success helped Coogler land his next gig as the director of the Marvel superhero movie Black Panther. With a release date of February 2018, insiders speculate that it will be nearly impossible for Coogler to work on both Black Panther and Creed 2 which MGM studios wants to fast-track for a 2017 release. Not one to rush his craft, it looks like Coogler may have to bow out of directing Creed 2 but we’ve rounded up six directors who can execute and protect Coogler’s vision.
You may remember Lemmons as Agent Starling’s BFF in Silence of The Lambs or the ill-fated grad student in the 1992 horror flick Candyman. However, Lemmons went on to make her feature directorial debut in 1997 with the gothic coming-of-age drama Eve’s Bayou. In 2007, Lemmons directed the criminally underrated Talk To Me – a biopic about shock jock Ralph “Petey” Greene starring Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Lemmons has a sharp eye in exposing the flaws in her protagonists, and making them beautifully human even in their darkest moments.
Mann is one of the hardest working Black directors in Hollywood today. While studying for his MFA at New York University, his short film Five Deep Breaths won the Spike Lee Fellowship and the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation Award when it premiered at Sundance in 2003. Mann’s short film would lead him to an apprenticeship and directing his first episode of episodic television on “The Wire.” Mann has amassed an enviable list of credits working on hit shows like “Homeland,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Grey’s Anatomy” “Dexter,” and “Friday Night Lights.” He most recently helmed VH1’s hip-hop movie/pilot “The Breaks.” Mann’s vast experience in directing action -oriented and character-driven shows would come in handy taking over the Creed franchise.
Some of our best directors stay under the radar. LaMothe’s 2013 award-winning short The Tombs was a hard-hitting and unforgiving look at the New York’s infamous central booking jail system. In his 2007 feature Blackout, which follows a group of Brooklyn residents dealing with the 2003 electrical blackout, LaMothe worked with some of Hollywood’s brightest actors including Michael B. Jordan, Zoe Saldana, Jeffrey Wright, and Melvin Van Peebles. Directing Creed 2 would be a sweet reunion between LaMothe and its star.
Matthew A. Cherry
Cherry and Ryan Coogler actually have something common – both former football players who decided to become filmmakers. Cherry also has a good ear for young Black male narratives as witnessed by his 2012 feature debut The Last Fall. With his music video background and his love for alt-indie music, Coogler could also expand the world of “Creed’s” female lead Tessa Thompson with eye-popping performance montages.
Bythewood is no stranger to combining romance and sports as witnessed by her 2001 cult classic Love and Basketball. And witnessed by her incisive take on the cut-throat music industry in Beyond The Lights, Bythewood can easily balance both Adonis and Bianca’s storylines in Creed 2.
There’s really too many reasons to list why DuVernay is the perfect successor to direct Creed 2. DuVernay and Coogler both share a love of intimate narratives and framing Black life on film that is powerfully authentic without ever resorting to racial tropes or stereotypes. DuVernay and Coogler are also very good friends, extending their Hollywood success to social advocacy with their participation in United Blackout, a network of artists taking a stand against human violations in America.