Ryan Coogler is having the dream year of an indie filmmaker. His devastating debut, “Fruitvale Station” was already racking up accolades before it was yanked into the spotlight by tangential association to the Trayvon Martin story (“Fruitvale” is a fact-based account of a police shooting of an unarmed black youth.) Now he’s lining up his first studio gig, and it’s anything but what you’d expect…
“CREED,” which Coogler will write and direct as a star vehicle for his “Fruitvale” lead Michael B. Jordan (whose also supposedly on the shortlist for The Human Torch), is a spin-off/continuation of the “ROCKY” franchise. The story will center on the grandson of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers’ character from the first four films) opting to follow his grandfather’s footsteps into professional boxing; with a returning Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa for a trainer. Why did it take so long for someone to think of this??
I don’t know if “Rocky” means the same thing to audiences who didn’t grow up in the late-70s/80s – watching the series gradually transition from Oscar-winning throwback melodrama to bombastic action-hero fantasy – but I did, so I’m intrigued as hell by this. My one concern would be whether or not Stallone (who didn’t just play Rocky, but created the character and wrote the original screenplay) can be part of the production without trying to assert control on a “green” young filmmaker. On the other hand, he was very much where Coogler was once, so maybe he’ll have a certain amount of respect.
I hope this works out… and not just because I’d like to maybe find out what happened to Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago and Tommy Gunn in “Creed II, III,” etc. (Lang was at one point supposed to appear as a ringside commentator in “Rocky Balboa,” which would be amazing.)