Every Rocky & Creed Movie, Ranked

2022-07-02 06:53:09 By : Ms. Cindy Lu

Looking back at the impact the Rocky franchise had and ranking each movie alongside the Creed continuation.

Boxing is a sport of champions and underdogs. And the story of Rocky Balboa is about how the ultimate underdog became a champion. With Sylvester Stallone headlining six films across the franchise, followed by Michael B. Jordan, this series would depict men fighting against adversity. Whether fighting for pride, championships, or the American way, Rocky would stand tall in most of his fights. And even in defeat, he still found solace in knowing he never gave less than his all.

Following that up with modern-day sequels following Donnie Creed, we would see stories of living up to a legacy plagued by death. Both men's stories would impact one another, as well as impact the audience. Whether it be the testosterone-fueled training montages, the passionate, inspiring speeches, or the boxing matches that would leave you on the edge of your seat, every film has deserved the praise they've received. Here, we will rank every movie in the franchise to determine which is the main event and which is going to the undercard.

Following the glow of defeating Ivan and becoming a patriotic hero, Rocky would come home to find that his life was in shambles. Thanks to a crooked accountant and a diagnosis with a severe brain injury, Rocky ultimately decides to retire and sell off all of his belongings to pay off the debt he had incurred. He would find a new purpose in becoming a trainer for the young upstart, Tommy Gunn.

However, Tommy wanted to chase fame and fortune, so he would leave Rocky's camp and join with a greedy promoter. After winning the Heavyweight Title, Tommy would be called a paper champion, having never defeated Rocky. This would lead to a street fight after Tommy assaulted Rocky's trainer and friend. Rocky would get up from the beating the younger and fresher Tommy brought forth, and defeat Tommy. No titles would be exchanged, just Rocky putting his financial future at greater risk by knocking out the greedy promoter before making his exit. An average entry in the franchise, comparatively, Rocky V still served as the starting ground for Rocky's future in the franchise.

Rocky III would see Rocky, having successfully defended his title multiple times over five years, taking on Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan, before he was a WWF Champion) in an exhibition match. The bulk of the film would be the story of Rocky Balboa falling from grace against the fast-rising contender, Clubber Lang.

Having faced less-than-stellar competition over the years, Rocky didn't have any urgency in his training. Additionally, his trainer Mickey suffered a fatal heart attack just minutes before the fight. It would be Apollo Creed who would help train Rocky for the rematch. Seeing two bitter rivals become respected friends was a highlight of the journey Rocky took, as well as the emotional turmoil he suffered while mourning the loss of his friend. The beginning may have been a bit campy, but this film did deliver on living up to the hype its predecessors had instilled.

After the events of the first Creed film, Donnie Creed is living large in Creed II. Having won the WBC Heavyweight Championship, Donnie proposes to his girlfriend and finds out he will be a father. The next opponent he is set to face is Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago. Donnie was determined to take down the son of the man who had killed his father. Donnie failed, winning by disqualification after taking a brutal beating.

This film would take the time to recognize that Viktor was facing just as much pressure as Donnie, with Ivan wanting to redeem his past failures through his son's success. With an overall focus on family, we see Donnie again showing his never-say-die attitude, committing to a rope-a-dope technique. Viktor would similarly refuse to go down despite being beaten relentlessly. Ivan would finally find the redemption he sought when he threw the towel in for his son and gave him the support Ivan had never received himself. While it's nice to see Sylvester Stallone continue his supporting role, it will be interesting to see if Creed can stand on his own in a future installment.

Related: Best Sylvester Stallone Movies, Ranked

What was thought at the time to be the final installment in the long-running franchise, Rocky Balboa is a love letter to the character that helped inspire a generation of boxing fans. Rocky was trying to get by with his restaurant, named after his wife Adrian, who had passed away before the events of this film. But after a computer simulation shows an argument for Rocky being the best heavyweight boxer of all time, Rocky decides to renew his boxing license.

What this film did smartly was it didn't re-tread old ground. There are no lessons on attaining a high fight IQ as Rocky is an established veteran. Instead, Rocky and his trainer, Tony Evers, focus on pure power and endurance. This would pay off as Rocky fought a much younger competitor in Mason Dixon, who was looking to prove himself as a heavyweight champion. During the bout, the two men would have a hoss fight, seeing them injure themselves and each other with power shots. In the end, Dixon would be declared the winner by split decision as both men walked away, satisfied that they could keep up with one another. In a fitting tribute to the Rocky Balboa character, the film would end with shots of fans running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Rocky IV came at a time when patriotism was at an all-time high. Hostility between the USA & the USSR was at its peak. Rocky IV would take these hostilities and churn out a story that featured a new foreign menace in Ivan Drago. To further cement Ivan as a purely evil character, he would batter Apollo Creed in a boxing match to the point of death. Angered by the Russian's cold indifference, Rocky challenged Drago to a 15-round exhibition in Russia.

One of the most exciting moments of this film comes towards the end of the second round, when Rocky manages to land a powerful left hook that cuts Drago open just above the eye. This moment stunned the audience as Drago had been built as the most inhumanly strong man Rocky had ever faced, and at this moment, Rocky proved that Ivan, too, could bleed.

Rocky II would start a lot of the tropes that would follow Rocky throughout the franchise. He would retire from boxing after suffering a career-threatening injury; in this case, a detached retina. He would take a rematch due to financial hardship, much to the chagrin of his wife, Adrian. Something serious will affect his life, i.e., his wife falling into a coma after giving premature birth to their son. But despite it all, Rocky would endure and win the fight with the support of his trainer and his wife.

While it may have been the first to employ what would become tired trends, it was still the first to use them effectively. While the first film saw Rocky lose to Apollo, this film saw him win by a dramatic knockout where both men struggled to answer to the count of ten. Rocky, through pure willpower, got up at the count of nine while Apollo collapsed. Rocky would close out the film, finally earning the heavyweight title that had eluded him.

As the franchise entered the modern age, audiences were introduced to a new protagonist in Donnie Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed. Opening the film with some legal troubles, Donnie is taken in by Apollo's widow as a child. Growing with aspirations of forging his own legacy in the boxing ring, Donnie would pursue boxing full time, even if it meant his adoptive mother's disapproval. Donnie would move to Philadelphia in search of Rocky Balboa. We get a touching story of Rocky having to deal with his mortality, being diagnosed with a form of cancer. Rocky originally elects to forgo treatment and accept his fate.

In a heartfelt moment, Donnie tells Rocky that Donnie won't train unless Rocky gets the treatment. So with Rocky finally acquiescing and Donnie working hard, we have our primary fight that was set to mirror the original Apollo-Rocky title fight of the first film. While Creed walked in as a massive underdog, he persevered and would hold his own against the champion. While he would ultimately lose the contest, it would be by split decision, with thousands of people cheering for him.

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It's always difficult to live up to an original classic and an even harder one to overcome one. The original tale of Rocky Balboa lives on in American cinema to this day, with many films and television shows parodying such iconic scenes as the Rocky training montage (specifically, running up the 72 steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Rocky's cries for his love, Adrian at the end of the film.

While many have differing opinions on the movie's ending, it is essential to remember that Rocky genuinely wanted to prove himself by being the first man to go the distance in all 15 rounds with Apollo. Throughout this fight, both men would grow to respect one another as they each suffered injuries throughout the contest, with Apollo winning the fight by a split decision. The film would close with Rocky embracing Adrian, proving that he could hang with the best in the sport.