Rocky Balboa. “The Italian Stallion.” Anything you call him is a name of legend. It has been 40 years since Sylvester Stallone, an underdog actor and writer, finally won the fight against Hollywood to make a movie that was very important to him. The movie, which mimicked Stallone’s real life, tells the tale of an underdog hero trying to get by in the dreary streets of 1970s Philadelphia. In the City of Brotherly Love, there’s really not much love to go around. But what does Rocky mean?
When you first lay eyes on Rocky, he’s a boxer with passion that can easily knock out his opponents. But out of the ring, Rocky’s a soft, socially awkward, yet optimistic guy that could be considered a bum. If you know Rocky for being the World Heavyweight Champion, then you don’t know or remember his extremely humble beginnings. While watching the 1976 film, you have to ask yourself, “Is this really the guy that becomes one of the most famous (fictitious) boxers in the world?”
Rocky’s got a slow start, an example of the simple, isolated, and fairly dull lives of those living in Philly. However, as the film progresses, you start to see yourself in the titular character trying to become the best at something he loves.
Fast forward 40 years from the original Rocky to Ryan Coogler’s Creed and where do we have our champion? Permanently out of the boxing ring and still running “Adrian’s”, Rocky’s Italian restaurant named after his now-deceased wife. Without spoiling the film, which has Sylvester Stallone nominated for Best Supporting Actor, I’ll say that audiences are treated once again to the original underdog story of Rocky, but this time it’s twofold, as both Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone play the underdog.
I would like to leave off on something very raw and real featured in Stallone’s comeback film 10 years ago, Rocky Balboa. In it, Rocky gives his most famous speech, which the entire Rocky franchise stands for:
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody.”
I dare you to tell me that does not resonate with you. MMMM