When Rocky won Best Picture in 1977, it was up against some serious competition. It beat out All the President’s Men, Network, and Taxi Driver, three films that stand as all-time great works of cinema. While the warmth of Rocky perhaps gave it the edge against its competitors, the Rocky franchise has had a bizarre route over its decades-long lifespan. What began as a barebones, character-driven drama about people trying to get one last shot at love and respect eventually grew to a tale where the protagonist is trying to single-handedly win the Cold War, and then shrank back down to an intimate character drama about a pugilist aiming for one last fight before turning to focus on his rival’s son. It’s a fascinating series that’s tried to evolve with the time and also with the career of its creator and star, Sylvester Stallone.
With Creed II now in theaters, I’ve gone through all the Rocky movies and the two Creed films and ranked them from worst to best.