Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films have long been concerned with the idea of legacy. In Rocky IV, the title character is compelled to fight because he lost his first rival and friend, who ultimately became the man who taught him how to be a different kind of champion. In Rocky V, Rocky gave up the gloves and tried to teach others, only to find that he had picked the wrong person to hand down his knowledge to. Then, in Rocky Balboa, he came out of a retirement in which he was surrounded by relics of his fighting past to secure his legacy in a modern age of boxing. Some of those ideas succeeded, some didn’t, but this fall we could see the best attempt at burnishing the Rocky legacy yet in Creed.
Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, Fruitvale Station, the upcoming Fantastic Four) is Adonis, the son of Rocky’s friend and former rival, the late Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Like his father, who he never knew, Adonis is trying to become a great fighter, and he’s doing it steadfastly on his own, until he meets Rocky, who becomes his trainer.
All of the pieces for a great legacy film are here. Stallone — who was behind the scenes as writer, co-writer, producer or director for all of the Rocky films — stepped aside and turned the film over to Fruitvale Station’s Ryan Coogler, who both directs and co-writes. Jordan looks like a convincing and compelling heir to Weathers’ place in the series, and Stallone looks absolutely perfect as he steps into the grizzled old mentor role that Burgess Meredith so memorably filled for years. All these ingredients make for a potent trailer that looks to bring the series back to its glorious roots: the story of a young fighter who wants to go the distance.
Creed hits theaters November 25.