There’s an iconic moment in the Rocky franchise that epitomizes not only the theme of the series, but also the nostalgic feeling that keeps us coming back in the first place: the “Rocky Steps.” The distinguished 72-steps in Philadelphia, PA that came to symbolize that feeling of knowing the underdog will rise to the challenge…and win.
After all, a lot of us are all underdogs at one point of our lives or another. We’re fighting to overcome many daily challenges and obstacles that get in the way of reaching our goals. We’re fighting because we believe we will win. The steps resonate with so many of us.
And Creed remarkably reminds us why, both on and off the set. Without going into detail, there’s a moment in Creed where Rocky once again takes on the climb of the steps. Just before getting to the top he says something along the lines of, “I think they added some more of these.”
They did. Except, it came in the form of protégé, Adonis Creed, the protagonist of the Rocky spinoff and illegitimate son of fictional character, Apollo Creed.
To emphasize just how amazing this movie and its maker were both on and off the set in keeping true to its underdog theme, let’s highlight a few parallels that prove exactly what makes Rocky so significant in the first place:
On the set: Rocky, old and retired, is given the challenge of dusting off his gloves in order to reignite and subsequently pass the torch to a fighter that ironically, no one really wants to see fight.
Off the set: A lot like Rocky in its prime, the idea of Creed was a risk in itself for young and on-the-rise director, Ryan Coogler. Not only did Sylvester Stallone not plan to continue on with the Rocky saga, but also after jumping onboard, Creed had faced low expectations from many.
On the set: Creed has received a lot of praise for its cinematography. One noteworthy fighting scene was even shot in only one-take. To the shock of many, the skilled cinematographer was none other than Maryse Alberti, a 25-year French veteran, and a woman.
Off the set: Fresh out of film school, Coogler had only one feature film under his belt, Fruitvale Station, that had not even been released before he presented the idea of Creed to Sylvester Stallone. Coogler’s sick father, who had also felt like an underdog and had made the Rocky films a tradition in his family, inspired the idea.
On and off the set: Another theme in Creed revolves around creating your own legacy. Although the film continues with and pays homage to an iconic film saga, it creates its own footprints that are relatable and in line with those of today’s generation.
All in all, Creed proves to be a phenomenal and iconic film in its own right, raising the stakes for today’s filmmakers and inspiring millions of young and hungry underdogs all over the nation.
Thank you, Coogler, for rising to the challenge of creating such an extraordinary and inspirational film of our time. You’ve won both our attention and our hearts and your faith and ambition has paid dividends.
I think we’re all feeling the urge to head to Center City, Philadelphia and climb those “Rocky Steps!”
Now signing off with the reminder: Don’t wait for the world to recognize your greatness, live it and let the world catch up to you.