This post contains SPOILERS for Creed II
Sylvester Stallone indicates Creed II will be his final appearance as Rocky Balboa. Arguably, there's no greater example of an actor being completely synonymous with a signature role than Stallone and Rocky. In many ways, the Italian Stallion was Stallone's onscreen avatar, as fans were quick to point out the numerous correlations between the films' events and Stallone's own career. For example, in the 1976 original, Rocky is a down-on-his-luck everyman hoping to make the most of his big shot, and in the sequel he tries to deal with success after becoming an overnight sensation.
Even as the Rocky property transitioned to the Creed spinoff series (which primarily focuses on younger characters like Adonis and Bianca), Stallone remained an integral part of the narrative. The father-son dynamic that blossomed between Donnie and Rock served as a touching emotional core as the two characters helped each other deal with whatever adversity life threw at them. That relationship continued to develop in Creed II, but that could be it for Sly.
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On his Instagram account, Stallone posted a video from the Creed II set where he announced the sequel is "probably his last rodeo," stating that Rocky's story has been told and it's time for the next generation to take center stage. Stallone thanked Creed II director Steven Caple, Jr. and his co-star Michael B. Jordan for all they've done and essentially passed the torch. Check it out in the space below:
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I am reposting this because there was a technical difficulty. I just want to thank everyone around the whole wide World for taking the Rocky family into their hearts for over 40 years. It’s been my Ultimate privilege to have been able to create and play this meaningful character. Though it breaks my heart, Sadly all things must pass... and end. I love you Kind and generous people , and The most wonderful thing of all , is that ROCKY will never die because he lives on in you ....
To be fair, this is far from the first time Stallone has seemingly retired from playing Rocky, as both Rocky V and Rocky Balboa were conceived as concluding chapters for the franchise. And of course, Stallone was convinced by an enthusiastic Ryan Coogler to return for Creed, which netted the actor a Best Supporting Actor nomination. So, fans would be forgiven if they didn't completely buy that this is *actually* the end of the road for Balboa. Considering Creed II's massive opening weekend at the box office, it seems likely further installments will be made (though, nothing's been officially announced at this time), and if there's a natural place for Rocky in the narrative, the filmmakers would surely like to include him.
At the same time, it's difficult to see where else Rocky's story can go. Creed II ended with the former champ reuniting with his estranged son, a sweet and heartfelt concluding note for Rocky's incredible eight-film journey. There's also a convincing case to be made the Creed films would benefit if they were given an opportunity to forge their own path moving forward, fully escaping from the shadows of the past. Both Coogler and Caple, Jr. did an extraordinary job recontextualizing the events of Rocky IV, giving depth and nuance to Apollo Creed's death and Ivan Drago, but now it's time for Donnie to make his own legacy.
More: Creed 2 Ending Explained
Source: Sylvester Stallone