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There are so many ways to start this story, but the most appropriate I can come up with is, “What the hell, man?” It’s been seven years since Sylvester Stallone brought his most popular character out of retirement with Rocky Balboa, and while some people might have thought Peter Segal’s upcoming comedy Grudge Match would feature Stallone’s last appearance in a boxing ring, he’ll actually be reprising the role of Rocky for a spinoff film from Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. Yes, you’re hearing that right.
Coogler’s next project, which he will co-write with Aaron Covington, will be Creed, according to Deadline. It will reteam the director with Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan, who will play the grandson of Apollo Creed, Balboa’s former nemesis-turned-friend as played in the series by Carl Weathers. Don’t worry, the aging Balboa won’t be challenging the younger Creed to a fight - he’ll be in his corner as a trainer. Somehow, I still foresee Stallone getting into some kind of fight in the film. Perhaps with his pharmacist.
So how did the project come together? It’s apparently something of a passion project for Coogler, in much the same way the story of Oscar Grant inspired him to get Fruitvale made. Coogler’s talent agency connected him with Stallone, who is actually busy putting together a stage adaptation of Rocky, and serendipity struck as Stallone felt Coogler’s idea for this spinoff sequel was interesting enough to get involved with without much deliberation. Stallone will also be producing the film for MGM, along with a few others.
Creed will focus on Jordan’s yet-to-be-named grandson and his struggles balancing a well-off lifestyle with the instincts to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps to become a boxing heavyweight champion. His family doesn’t want him to get into the ring, but his natural athletic gifts are just too strong, so he enlists the initially uninterested Balboa to become his trainer. This isn’t exactly the most original story, as you can imagine.
While I never could have predicted this project to come to light, there is room for potential here to balance my initial upturned nose. Jordan is a solid young actor, and puts on a head-turning performance in the maudlin Fruitvale Station to accompany his excellent work on NBC’s Friday Night Lights and even in last year’s Chronicle, in which he was the most enjoyable character. Also. it will be nice to get a fresh take on the material without having to steep Balboa in his own familial problems. And it might open up a chance for Weathers to reprise his role, perhaps through CGI-enhanced archival footage or something.
All the deals are being finalized right now, and Coogler has expressed his intention to make this his next film, so it shouldn’t be long at all before the ring announcements begin, assuming they’ll wait until The Expendables 3 finishes filming.
Dare I even ask our readers how you guys feel about this project? Let us know in the comments, and take a few minutes to relive the face-smashing drama that was “Rocky vs. Apollo” below.