What do you do once you make a successful independent film? Make a studio-driven blockbuster, of course. Deadline Hollywood is reporting the duo behind this year's Sundance winner "Fruitvale Station" is re-teaming for "Creed," a continuation of the "Rocky" franchise focusing on Apollo Creed's grandson. Coogler is set to direct and MGM is in talks with Michael B. Jordan for the lead role. Sylvester Stallone is set to return as the beloved Philadelphia fighter Rocky Balboa.
According to the report, the film is entirely Coogler's idea, calling the spinoff a "dream project." Coogler came up with the concept himself before getting in touch with Stallone through his agency. The veteran action star and director loved it, and the two then turned to MGM for financing. The studio came through, and now the original Academy Award-winning producers of "Rocky," Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, are even set to return.
Coogler's story focuses on Apollo Creed's grandson, a well-off young man who nevertheless turns to fighting because of the natural abilities bestowed on him from his one-time heavyweight champion grandpa. He has potential, but obviously needs a mentor to succeed. Who better than the one man to best his grandfather, Rocky Balboa? Though out of the sport entirely, Balboa is undoubtedly tempted to return in order to help the grandson of one of his oldest friends.
Jordan is all too familiar with beloved franchises, even if his prior two have come on the small screen. The young actor scored a much-loved role on HBO's critical darling "The Wire" as Wallace, and later became part of the new cast on "Friday Night Lights" as QB1 Vince Howard. It was there that Jordan showed off his natural athleticism, an attribute undoubtedly helpful for playing the grandson of Muhammed Ali-esque Apollo Creed (and fitting considering the other MIchael Jordan). Indiewire's Nigel Smith recently sat down with Jordan to discuss his relationship with Coogler and his future projects.
"Certain people are natural born leaders and that's what Ryan is," said Jordan. "He's so wise beyond his years. He's an old soul. We just connected. I felt like I was making a movie with one of my best friends and that's a good feeling to have." In regard to the future, Jordan said, "I'm really just reading a lot of scripts figuring out what I want to do next. That's something that's changed -- having more options and choices."
The immediate question that comes to mind for all "Rocky" fans is, "What the hell happened to Duke?" Apollo's former trainer who became the Rock's cornerman for his fights against Ivan Drago and Mason "The Line" Dixon would seem like an obvious choice for Apollo Jr.'s mentor. Obviously, Stallone as Rocky is a bigger draw at the box office than Tony Burton, but we hope nothing has happened to Duke since we last saw him training Rocky to build some "hurtin' bombs." The kid could use some of those, too.
This also begs the question of whether or not other characters will reappear. Adrian (Talia Shire) has passed on, but Paulie (Burt Young) would be an excellent addition to the kid's corner, and Rocky's son, Rocky Jr. (last played by Milo Ventimiglia), would also be a welcome sight. I doubt anyone is too worried about Marie and her son Steps reappearing, but getting the gang back together always helps add a welcome degree of sentimentality to the proceedings. What will be really interesting is if they can figure out a way for Carl Weathers to appear. It would be tricky, seeing as his character died 28 years ago, but homage needs to be paid one way or another to the fast-talking champ.
What do you think readers? Are you anxious for another entry in the "Rocky" franchise, or are you happy with the way we left the character in "Rocky Balboa?" Are there any characters you're dying to see in the pseudo-sequel? Is this the right choice for Coogler as a follow-up to a legitimate Oscar contender? Is Jordan right for the role of Apollo Creed III?