Every 'Rocky' Movie, Ranked From the Original to 'Creed II'
The Rocky movies are the film equivalent of underdogs. Nothing gets in their way for very long and they just keep on punching one movie at a time. 2015's "Creed" proved there is more than enough life in this series, especially for that Oscar-nominated sidequel that explored Adonis Creed (Apollo's son) rise to boxing stardom with Stallone's aging Rocky as his cornerman. Now, with "Creed II," the franchise has a sequel within a sequel -- the film continues both the stories of "Rocky IV" and of the 2015 film. That's as good as excuse as any to do the rank and file thing on our favorite boxer and his "can't stop, won't stop" franchise that started more than 40 years ago.
'Rocky V' (1990)
The somber opening is a solid start and a good idea: It picks up where "Rocky IV" left off, with Rocky suffering from brain damage after fighting the super boxer Ivan Drago in Russia. He comes home to find his wealth all but wiped out (thanks, Paulie!) and soon tries to get back in touch with his roots and rebuild himself. He sets out to do the latter by finding a misguided boxing prospect, Tommy Gunn, which only leads to more disappointment that culminates in a climatic street brawl between Rocky and his pupil. Yeah, it's not great.
7. 'Rocky III' (1982)
Even the weakest of Rocky sequels are entertaining. Stallone's underdog boxer is a big deal now, and leave it to Mr. T's Clubber Lang to put the rich boxer in his place. Highlights include the aforementioned Mr. T, Mickey's gut-punch of a death, and (obviously) "Eye of the Tiger." Bonus points for that training montage where Rocky, now trained by Apollo Creed, run along and into the beach wearing sneakers and FULL tube socks.
6. 'Rocky IV' (1985)
This is less of a movie and more of a feature-length montage/music video set to one of the most '80s of '80s soundtracks ever. And it is dated AF but we still love it. Especially that final fight and its not-so-subtle Cold War trappings as Rocky and Russian Ivan Drago duke it out.
5. 'Rocky II' (1979)
Apollo Creed and Rocky have a rematch for the title in this underrated sequel that will have to clapping at the edge of your seat. (Structurally, "Creed II" is also a sequel to this film in some ways.)
4. 'Rocky Balboa' (2006)
One of the more inspirational and most quotable Rocky movies, this one features the again boxer pulling a George Foreman for one last battle in the ring. On the way, he drops some great, fist-pumping speeches that only Rocky could get away with while grieving the loss of Adrian and forging a relationship with his estranged son.
3. 'Creed II' (2018)
In terms of character-driven storytelling with emotionally-high stakes, pound for pound, "Creed II" is the best Rocky sequel. Adonis once again finds himself afraid of living in his father's shadow while having anxiety over the shadows cast by his own expectations. The end result is a movie that resonates more in scenes outside of the boxing ring, especially whenever Adonis and the pregnant Bianca (Tessa Thompson) confront issues of pending parenthood as B risks losing her hearing. All of this goes down as the man who killed Adonis' dad, Ivan Drago, forces his son to win back the honor he lost to Rocky in 1985. This is a sequel to both "Rocky IV" and the 2015 "Creed," and it delicately honors the legacy of the former while servicing the needs of the latter.
2. 'Creed' (2015)
No one had lofty expectations for this rebootquel when it was announced. Then once critics screenings started leading to release, "Creed" proved that which we should have known already: Don't count this underdog out. Ryan Coogler's near-perfect film, and Michael B. Jordan's star-making turn as the son of a dead boxer struggling to carve his own path in the shadow of his dad's, is one of the best stories told in the past decade. And Stallone's Oscar-nominated turn as the aging and ailing fighter will hit you right in the feels.
1. 'Rocky' (1976)
The original is the definitive underdog story on the big screen, which helps explain why this classic still holds up more than four decades later.