Yesterday I went and saw the movie Creed, the sequel/spiritual successor to the Rocky franchise. This was one of the most anticipated movies for 2015 for me. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the Rocky films (I will also readily admit that Rocky V doesn’t exist in my personal canon). I grew up watching the films. I remember watching Rocky IV in the movie theater when I was a kid. I grew up listening to the soundtrack to Rocky III & IV all the time. I even did a parody home movie in college based on Rocky. So needless to say I was excited about the film from that standpoint.
I was also excited about it because it was a story on it’s own. It wasn’t another sequel. It wasn’t a remake. It was set in that “universe” but it was telling it’s own story. Also I’m a huge fan of actor Michael B. Jordan from his work in Friday Night Lights.
The story is about Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed by a woman who wasn’t Apollo’s wife. Apollo died in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV before Adonis was born. Adonis didn’t grow up with his father and it bounced around foster homes and juvenile detention before Apollo’s wife took him in as her own son. Of course being Apollo’s son, he takes up boxing and wants to make his way in the sport on his own. He can’t get the trainer at his father’s old gym to train him (who ironically was the son of Apollo & Rocky’s trainer Duke and the actor that played him was the same guy who played Julius Campbell in Remember the Titans). So Adonis travels across the country to Philadelphia to get Rocky Balboa to train him. Rocky doesn’t want to be involved but after awhile he reluctantly trains Adonis.
I won’t give away what happens or spoil anything but I do have several thoughts to share on the film. One, it has the feel of a Rocky film without it being a Rocky film. You have the training montages. You have the big fight between Adonis (who eventually takes the name Creed) against the lightweight champion of the world “Pretty” Ricky Conlon (played by Tony Bellew, who is an accomplished boxer in the cruiserweight & light heavyweight divisions). You have the budding romance between Adonis & singer/songwriter Bianca. It feels like it fits in the “Rockyverse”.
At the same time, it tells it’s own story. Aside from clips and pictures of Carl Weathers as Apollo, only Sylvester Stallone was in the film. You have mentions of Adrian and Paulie and also Rocky’s son Robert but no one from the previous films returns. The actress who played Apollo’s wife is a different one than played her in the Rocky films (Phylicia Rashad plays her in this film). And the main theme of the story is one different from the Rocky films (except from maybe the last one Rocky Balboa pertaining to Rocky and his son).
That theme is about about legacy and name. Adonis tries to make his way without using the name Creed. The only reason he gets a fight with Conlon is because of his lineage as Creed (and Conlan’s camp was desperate to get a fighter to fight Conlon after he broke the jaw of the #1 contender at their weigh-in). So Adonis has to live up to the name Creed as well as make his own name. I think one of the most poignant scenes in the film was the scene when Rocky is training Adonis and they’re standing in front of a mirror. Rocky points at the reflection in the mirror of Adonis and tells him that he is the toughest fighter that he will ever face. Rocky wanted Adonis to shadowbox in front of the mirror and focus on punching and avoiding the punches of the reflection as a means of training.
The line of the film that was a theme was “One step, one punch, one round.” The biggest fights in our lives have to be handled one step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time. I think that’s a very important message that is handled throughout the film.
A lot of times we see movie franchises get sequels or reboots that don’t need them. Or they’re done in such a way that detracts from the heart of the movies that came before them. Creed is not like that at all. It does a great job of touching on the past while telling a story on it’s own that is compelling. It is its own movie while also being connected to a great movie franchise. I would recommend seeing Creed if you’re a Rocky fan or if you’re just a fan of good movies.