3 Comments from Stallone’s Creed Prove that the Future of the Rocky Franchise is Safe

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Sylvester Stallone’s comments about why Rocky won’t be returning to Creed III actually show why the future of the Rocky franchise is safe. Sylvester Stallone became famous for his starring role in the 1976 film Rocky, and his place at the forefront of the franchise made him one of the biggest stars of the 1980s. Stallone is responsible for Rocky Balboa’s status as a pop culture icon in many ways: he is not only the face of the character, but is also the creator, screenwriter, producer and director of numerous films of the franchise Rocky .

The Rocky franchise shifted focus in 2015 when Creed, and Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed–the illegitimate son of the late Apollo Creed, took center stage as the franchise’s new protagonist. In both Creed and Creed 2, Rocky was widely featured as a minor character, as the former champion became Adonis’ trainer. However, Stallone has publicly announced that he will not return to Creed III, indicating that the franchise will begin to move away from its roots.

Related: Creed 3 May Finally Fix Rocky Sequel’s Bad Trend

The reason Stallone doesn’t appear as Balboa is actually true, and while it may seem disappointing, it’s actually an encouraging sign for the future of the franchise. Stallone says [via Metro] that he “didn’t know if there was a role for [him],” adding that “it’s going in a different direction.” Stallone’s comments hint that this decision was mutual: he “bowed out” because he did not believe that Rocky fits into the history of the film. This shows that while the Creed franchise films have already honored Rocky’s legacy, the character is not seen as a necessity for their success. This will eventually allow Creed III (and future sequels) to emerge from Rocky’s shadow—presumably with Stallone’s blessing, no less.

Both Stallone and the writers of Creed 3 know that Rocky is finished

Stallone’s comments confirm that both the actor and Creed’s screenwriters understand the fundamental truth about the character: he can’t be around forever. While admitting he didn’t feel there was a natural way to include Rocky in the Creed III story, Stallone proves he understands the direction the franchise is heading: moving away from Rocky Balboa. The idea that the character is finished is hardly shocking, as Creed II perfectly observes the Rocky films, subtly completing the last of the unfinished ends of Balboa’s story.

Stallone’s confirmation that Rocky won’t appear in Creed III, but that he wishes the franchise well in the future, is actually some relief. If Rocky’s story drags on even longer, it could ruin the character’s happy ending. Creed II sees him reconcile with his son and meet his grandson, which is a quiet poetic conclusion to the fighter’s story. Faced with the greatest regret—the death of Apollo Creed, for which he felt responsible—Rocky Balboa is free to enjoy a peaceful retirement with his surviving family.

It’s really important that Creed III doesn’t need Rocky because it shows that the franchise can survive after Stallone’s own career. Since Rocky has an actor as Adonis Creed’s mentor, the spirit of the Rocky films is alive and well, and the baton seems to have already been passed. Stallone, confirming this with his comments about Creed III, is proof that the Rocky franchise is in safe hands for the future.

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