Rocky is the 32nd best movie ever, and it’s a series that is extremely rewarding to its fans, even when the films aren’t at their best (I am prepared to defend my stance when it comes to mostly disliking Rocky IV). Rocky Balboa was an unexpected treat that felt like a great way to leave the series. However, Sly has decided to continue the series by transitioning Rocky into the Mickey role as a trainer, and his pupil will be Apollo Creed’s son (played by future Johnny Storm, Michael B. Jordan). That’s all we’ve known for a while, but now an official synopsis has reared its head:
Adonis Johnson (Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.
Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.
With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?
This is the first mention of Apollo’s son’s name, Adonis. YES. The big takeaway though is that bit about Rocky “battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.” Most people are assuming that refers to cancer, but that’s how Adrian exited the series in the last film. The more thematically appropriate culprit would be something involving brain damage, which was brought up in the much-maligned Rocky V. Considering that concussions and their long-term effects are still a pretty hot topic in the sporting world today, this feels like it would resonate a lot more than cancer.
I really loved Rocky Balboa, especially as a send-off for the Italian Stallion, so I can’t help but be hesitant about this next entry. Considering my love for the character, I don’t think I’ll hate it, but it has a lot to deliver if it ends up being Rocky’s final outing. And if Sly actually kills Rocky (I always read the ending of Rocky Balboa as a more metaphorical death with him disappearing), that will be a huge deal.
I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the opponent is actually the genetically altered beast from the abandoned Rambo V concept. Dream big, Chewers.