Sylvester Stallone has never had an easy time saying goodbye to his Rocky character. More than once in the film franchise's history, he has indicated that a "final film" was imminent.
Rocky III was supposed to be the original ending, but the financial success led to Rocky IV, which in turn set up another false ending in which Rocky was supposed to be killed in a street fight circa Rocky V.
For years, Rocky fans were largely displeased with how Rocky V went down, with Sylvester Stallone himself even expressing frustrations.
While it was good for many fans to see Rocky Balboa emerge victorious in that once-deadly street fight (after a studio-demanded rewrite), the idea that Balboa's story would end busted flat in Philadelphia didn't sit well with many.Then came Rocky Balboa, the sixth and supposedly final film in the franchise, that many fans and critics alike agreed was a fitting end to the series.
But with the surprise financial success of a character, who'd been on the shelf for 15 years, another sequel was in the cards.
That brings Creed.
Sylvester Stallone has indicated that Creed is the start of a new series, that it can be divorced from the Rocky franchise, so to speak, but that's not really true when you consider the previous Rocky mythos is there to fuel the story.
Everyone is apparently gone in Rocky's life -- Paulie, Adrian, Mickey. It's not real clear where his son Robert is either.
And all indications from what the studio has released so far is that Rocky himself may be dying from a cancer-like condition.
Still, all that said, Sylvester Stallone has told the Associated Press that he's not done with the Rocky Balboa character and that "There's more to go."
"I would like to follow this character until he's eventually an angel," Stallone added during a press junket for the film's release in Philadelphia.
On one hand, the comments are encouraging because Sylvester Stallone says he would "eventually" like to show Rocky as an angel. That indicates that Creed is unlikely to be the end of Balboa.
It's probable that Rocky will decide to fight his undisclosed disease and that he and Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) will face their demons together and, at least for now, overcome.
But it also hints at an unpleasant reality that fans of the series have been fighting for quite some time -- the probability that one day, they will be forced to watch Rocky Balboa breathe his last breath.
In Creed, IMDb notes, Rocky will no longer be stepping into the ring to prove anything, only to train and be by the side of the young fighter, who is the offspring of former rival and friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
One of the key themes of the film will be Adonis' inner struggle to embrace the name born to him while helping Rocky realize, once again, that "it ain't over, till it's over."
Threatening Rocky's life is this undisclosed disease that appears to be cancer-esque.
For more of the excitement, check out this Creed trailer featuring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone in roles that fit like a glove.According to a report from the New York Times, Jordan "immersed" himself in a year of training for this latest outing in the Balboa Universe. The news site also notes that Creed will have "more fight scenes" than the first six movies.
"Did I get hurt? I took a few real punches, for sure. Thank Sly for that one," Jordan told the Times, adding that he trained with real fighters Andre Ward and Gabriel Rosado as well.
Are you ready to step into the ring again with Creed and Balboa? And would you welcome more Rocky Balboa movies beyond this?
[Image of Sylvester Stallone via Creed trailer screen grab]