Creed
It's official, Sylvester Stallone is set to reprise his signature character (sorry Rambo) Rocky Balboa yet again - this time in a supporting role. MGM has green lit the production on Creed (aka 'Rocky 7'). But on this occasion the film's central character will be the grandson of Carl Weathers' legendary Balboa-foe Apollo Creed with Rocky stepping in as his trainer. In this edition of the Rocky saga Stallone will be mostly hands-off in the process of the film's production. He won't be writing the screenplay and he won't be directing. He will simply by co-starring. Ryan Coogler is slated to direct and co-write the movie with Aaron Covington. This should be interesting, as Coogler recently won the Grand Jury and Audience Prize awards at this years Sundance Film Festival for his motion picture Fruitvale Station. In addition to his success at Sundance Coogler also won a special Prize of the Future at Cannes. Fruitvale Station stars the young and talented actor Michael B. Jordan, the same actor who has been tabbed to star as Creed (first name as of yet unknown, might I suggest Achilles?). We all know the mythology: Apollo desperate for an opponent selects Rocky Balboa, a club fighter out of Philadelphia, for a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the champ, assuming the whole thing would amount to nothing more than a show to salvage the massive investment his promotion put into the event before the previous fighter had to pull out. But as Apollo's trainer, Tony, tells him after the first round: "He doesn't know it's a damn show. He thinks it's a damn fight." What ensues is an epic 15 round war which nearly kills Apollo and almost causes Rocky permanent blindness. "Spoiler" Apollo wins the fight by split decision. This is the basic plot of Rocky, the 1976 motion-picture which went on to win that year's Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year. Rocky was so popular a sequel was naturally put into play. In Rocky II, Apollo wants to save face and get his revenge. He talks about how his kids are taunted in school over the fact that he really didn't win that first fight with Rocky - one of which is the parent of the central character in Creed. So he launches a smear campaign to get Rocky to meet him in a rematch. Once again, however, Tony warns Apollo: "I saw you beat that man unlike no man has ever been beaten before - and the man kept coming after you. We don't need that kind of man in our life, baby." Long story short, Apollo gets his wish, and another war is fought between the two, but this time Rocky knocks Apollo out in the final round to win the heavyweight championship of the world, giving Rocky the greatest moment in his life (other than his kid being born) and leaving Apollo to leave the sport and retire. This of course leads us to Rocky III - arguably the most important film ever made in the 80s (more on that in a future post) - where Rocky is confronted by all-around bad ass Clubber Lang, as played by Mr. T. Clubber causes the death of Rocky's own trainer, Mickey Goldmill, and then knocks out Rocky to win the title, but there is little love lost between Apollo and Clubber themselves. So Apollo takes Rocky in and trains him in the methods of the Force so that he becomes a Jedi Knight of L.A. street-boxing which later enables Rocky to redeem himself and becomes the two-time heavyweight champion of the world. The cherry on top is that a true and lasting friendship between Rocky and Apollo is sparked. The friendship didn't last too long though, because three years later the roided "Russian Menace" Ivan Drago comes to town. Apollo takes up a challenge laid out by Drago, has the greatest entrance to said fight in the history of boxing, real or fictional, and takes a massive beating by Drago for his troubles. Bleeding, battered and bruised the last thing Apollo tells Rocky is to not throw in the towel. Rocky, knowing how much pride Apollo has heeds his request. Unfortunately Apollo Creed is killed by Drago in the ring the very next round, thus ending Apollo Creed's run in the Rocky Balboa mythological cycle. Until now. Creed has all sorts of potential on varying planes. It can go in many directions. It can be a low-budget gritty character study, much like the first and last installments of the Rocky sextology - or it can be an era-influencer/definer much like the third film in the series. Will Creed touch on the fact that we've already seen Rocky have success as a trainer? It should. Remember he did guide Tommy "The Machine" Gunn to becoming an eventual world champion in Rocky V. Will Creed tap into any natural animosity that may exist between Apollo's grandson and Rocky over the fact that he never did throw in the towel to stop the beating Apollo was taking in Rocky IV. It might. I hope it does. I can see how that scene might play out in my head already. Will Creed feature any cameos by past characters similar to how we saw Spider Rico washing dishes at Rocky's restaurant in Rocky Balboa. I wouldn't count on it, but it would be interesting. Will Rocky pass down the trunks, lent to him by Apollo lent to him, which he wore in defeating Clubber Lang and later in taking down Drago, to the younger Creed? (Assuming Tommy Gunn returned them after their alley brawl). Lastly, will we get any Mickey-isms? We damn well better. Earlier I suggested the name Achilles for Creed's first name, perhaps an even better suggestion would be Ulysses. Yes, Ulysses Creed. Sticking with the Graeco-Roman theme, we could see Creed turn into a modern re-telling of the Homeric epics of old - with "Ulysses" Creed on some sort of internal quest which animates his very being with the old blinding sage Rocky Balboa standing in for Tiresias - guiding our young hero on his quest. The film should be out by no later than 2016, with a probable release in 2015 - so we won't have t0 wait too long. With the state of boxing being what it is these days I for one am actually looking forward to Creed upon hearing the news. Original conceptual Creed poster art by Kungfuat