This year sees the return of several beloved Hollywood franchises to the big screen. While most of the attention has been geared towards the massive tentpole projects that will be reviving long dormant properties (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, etc.), genre pictures aren't the only types of films that will be featured in this trend. The iconic Rocky sports drama series is also continuing after a considerable absence, with the spin-off project Creed.
Written and directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), the film is focused on Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son (not grandson, as previously reported) of Rocky's former rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed, and his pursuit of finding glory in the boxing ring. Sylvester Stallone will be reprising his famous Rocky Balboa role, and will serve as Adonis' trainer. From that, most people could probably tell what the plot would entail, but now Warner Bros. and MGM have put out an official synopsis.
You can read the full release below:
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures comes award-winning filmmaker Ryan Coogler’s “Creed.” The film explores a new chapter in the “Rocky” story and stars Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone in his iconic role. The film also reunites Coogler with his “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed.
Adonis Johnson (Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.
Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.
With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?
To anyone familiar with the Rocky franchise, this narrative should seem very familiar, as it seems to check off a lot of the series' trademarks, most notably by featuring a feisty up-and-comer striving for greatness and exploring whether or not he has the heart to overcome any adversity. It looks like that Adonis trying to find the "eye of the tiger" will be a considerable part of his character arc, harkening back to the well-known storyline of Rocky III.
What longtime fans will take away from this synopsis is that state of the Rocky character. From the sound of it, the Italian Stallion won't be in the best health during Creed and will have some obstacles of his own to deal with. It's unknown at this point what kind of illness (if that's what it is) Balboa has, but it's plausible that he could be suffering from chronic effects of head injuries he received in the ring (something that would allow Creed to dive into timely social commentary). Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this subplot plays out and will allow viewers to be invested in Rocky for different reasons than before.
Understandably, some moviegoers may roll their eyes at the notion of a Rocky spin-off, since the main character's story came to a nice close in 2006's Rocky Balboa, leaving little (if any) material left to carry a new installment. However, Coogler proved himself a viable filmmaking talent with Fruitvale, which will give this project a sense of artistic gravitas. It will also be a nice change-of-pace to see a new fighter be the primary focus, even if the core story reads somewhat cliché. It's similar to Force Awakens in that it could be a "passing of the torch" and lead to a new series of films.
WB also seems to be confident in the movie's potential quality, as the studio has pegged it for a release during the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday moviegoing season - placing Creed in direct competition with The Good Dinosaur and The Martian, among other notable titles. We'll have to wait and see for the final product, but Creed could prove to be crowd pleasing entertainment that ranks among the best the Rocky films had to offer.
Creed will be in theaters November 25, 2015.