You can’t keep the champ down, apparently. Sylvester Stallone is coming back to Rocky, the role that defined his career, for another more go-round. For those that were mystified and surprised when it happened in 2006 with Rocky Balboa, consider that it an additional eight years will have passed before we see the character again. Of course, this time a few things are different. Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler is at the helm and Balboa won’t be the title character this time.
Instead, the 27-year-old Coogler will be penning a script called Creed that will follow the well-to-do grandson of Apollo Creed who gets into boxing despite his family’s wishes, and turns to Rocky for a mentoring relationship. After Coogler was connected with Stallone, he pitched the project to the star and then together they approached MGM about doing it. For anyone who has seen Fruitvale Station, there’s no doubting that the young director has the skill, the passion and the style to pull off the film in a very personal manner. After all, it was that kind of heartfelt, unique touch that made the best of the Rocky films work in the first place. With Stallone in the right capacity, this could be a very fine addition to the Rocky legacy.
Of course, it helps too that another legacy is being threaded into the film, that of Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion that Balboa defeated in 1979’s Rocky II. Carl Weathers owned the role, and made Apollo a character that became as relatable and likable as Rocky himself. There’s not much chance I’d be interested in seeing Stallone front and center for another Rocky, but having him step-in as the old, wizened veteran does feel like the right way to close the circle. It’s also going to give Fruitvale Station actor Michael B. Jordan a chance to carry a big studio picture, and that too is very good news. Jordan gave one of the most convincing performances of the year in Station, and he’s been doing great work for years on television.
While there’s the tendency to remember Rocky V and roll one’s eyes at the aging Stallone getting the gloves back out, this is actually sequel news I can wholeheartedly embrace. Let’s also give Rocky Balboa it’s due, it was a decent and sincere film that didn’t come off as a cash-grab, which is more than I can say for John Rambo’s last big screen endeavor.
What are your thoughts? Can Creed work as both a stand-alone picture and another chapter in the Rocky saga? Will Carl Weathers return in a dream sequence, and show Michael B. Jordan the importance of getting a soup on?
This article was first posted on July 25, 2013