Like a lot of people director Ryan Coogler has a personal connection to the Rocky movies.
“Whenever I had a big test at school or a football game (my father would) say, ‘Take 10 minutes and watch this scene from Rocky. That’ll get you fired up. That’ll give you the juice to score five touchdowns. Or get an A on that test.’ I’d look over and think, ‘Are we watching this for me or for you?’”
It’s one thing to have the emotional connection; it’s another to convince Sylvester Stallone to make a seventh Rocky movie.
“I think the most important thing was that this movie was following a different character’s arc,” said Coogler.
“Rocky is there in a role that’s very important to the film but very much supports this other character’s journey to find themselves. That was important because no matter how good the idea was he wasn’t going to make another Rocky movie.”
The result is Creed, the evolution of a story that began in 1976, 10 years before Coogler was born. Michael B. Jordan is Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old friend who died in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago.
Born after his father’s death, Adonis never knew his dad but seems to have inherited the old man’s love of boxing and much of his skill, but can Rocky whip him into shape for a title match? Cue the underdog theatrics and signature swelling trumpet score.
“Creed is about a sense of identity,” said Coogler, “which is what I think the first Rocky was but the other themes are what make this fresh. What happens to someone dealing with an absentee father? What does love look like in the millennial generation when women are just as career oriented as men, or are expected to be? This idea of a generational handoff, baby boomers handing off responsibility and jobs to millennials; what does that look like?”
It looks like Rocky 1.0, a new story for a new generation.
“I was always honest with (Stallone) and let him know what the movies meant to me. I think he has an understanding that the movies kind of belong to everybody at this point.”
Michael B. Jordan’s love affair with Rocky
“The things that came to mind (while watching the Rocky films was) inspiration. Then this project came up and I had the chance to fall in love with the Rocky franchise all over again.”