On its face, Creed seems like a cynical cash grab bent on reviving a dead film series for a nostalgic audience, not unlike Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf stumbling through Indiana Jones and the Aliens, or whatever. But where that quadrilogy was more about the adventure, Rocky was always about the man. We watched him learn to love, struggle with celebrity, race, death, and defeat. We witnessed him spar with super powers and face age, legacy, and the effects of a life spent as someone else's punching bag. And occasionally we saw him box.
Still, despite our love for the character, Rocky V was unwatchable and Rocky Balboa, though underrated, was a saccharine final chapter no one asked for. Yet only two minutes into the new trailer, you can't help but be taken by the story of Adonis Creed, played by rising star Michael B. Jordan (teaming up again with Fruitvale Station director, Ryan Coogler). Unlike his famous father, a man more concerned with entering the ring than fighting inside it, Adonis wants to prove himself against naysayers who think he's riding rich coattails.
"Every punch I've ever thrown has been on my own. Nobody showed me how to do this."
When Rocky does make an appearance, he's an afterthought. We've finally moved beyond his story and we're ready for a new underdog. And after Balboa failed to evolve into a mentor for Tommy Gunn and Mason Dixon (really…), seeing the aged pugilist stand next to his greatest rival's son reminds us why we rooted for him in the first place. This is the story we've been waiting 30 years for, for Rocky, for Apollo, and now for Adonis.
Of course, the grey sweatsuit is back, so maybe things aren't as different as they seem.