The best sports films have staying power, and we remember them decades after their releases as classics of the genre. Films like Hoosiers and The Natural come to mind in this conversation, and perhaps in decade or so Ali and Remember The Titans might join their ranks. But among all the great sports movies, one seems to stand above the rest in its enduring impact on our culture: the original Rocky.
It’s ranked by IGN as the third best sports film of all time (behind Raging Bull and The Hustler, the latter being more of a gambling film) and recognized as the film that made Sylvester Stallone’s career. But beyond that, Rocky simply possesses a timeless quality that pop culture and the entertainment industry have never quite manage to shake off. In the eyes of many, it basically invented the modern cinematic underdog story in addition to now-clichéd concepts like training montages or yelling for a loved one after a victory. Through these ideas, Rocky has influenced countless films, both in sports and other genres, since its release in 1976. Above all of that, it’s also remained incredibly relevant in everyday culture.
In part, this is because it produced a number of sequels that reached even as far as 2006, a solid 30 years after the original. All told, there have been six films, and at no time in the span of those three decades has Stallone been replaced or shoved aside. While some may expect a franchise to grow stale over such a long period of time, 2006’s Rocky Balboa proved otherwise. In fact, Box Office Mojo reveals that the film grossed over $155 million worldwide. For the sake of comparison, that significantly bests 2005’s standalone boxing film Cinderella Man (roughly $108 million), despite the fact that Cinderella Man earned higher ratings at Rotten Tomatoes and received multiple Academy Award nominations! Many neutral critics would likely label Cinderella Man the better of the two movies, but even in 2006, the legacy of Rocky was so great that Rocky Balboa won out as
the more popular film.
Other examples demonstrate that the enduring popularity of the Rocky franchise extends past the cinema as well. In fact, one of the most interesting corners of the entertainment industry that shows off the prestige of the film and character is the online gaming industry. Casino sites are known to host games made popular by cinematic figures and titles. In almost all relevant cases, this means superheroes such as Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and many more serving as the subjects of popular arcade and slot machine games across the web. And yet, at the Betfair Casino platform, where many such games are available to be played, a Rocky game using the good old-fashioned image of Stallone from the first film is right alongside them. It’s a fun little game, with icons of famous characters and a “knock-out bonus” to enjoy as a sort of mini-game. But the key significance of the Rocky slot is this: just as Rocky Balboa went toe-to-toe with a newer, ar
guably better boxing film, this game is showing that the character can also go up against the modern superhero craze in attracting fan attention.
The bottom line is, people still love the iconic character of Rocky Balboa. Despite the fact that half the people going to the movies these days weren’t born when Rocky originated, they know the theme song of the films, the famous one-liners, the order in which Rocky faced his various adversaries… it’s really a remarkable legacy. And just to be clear, it’s one that isn’t over just yet. According to Screenrant, studios have green-lit a new project titled “Creed,” which will serve as a sequel/spinoff to the series. Up-and-coming star Michael B. Jordan (of Fruitvale Station fame) will play the part of famous Rocky opponent Apollo Creed’s grandson, who will be trained by the one-and-only Rocky Balboa, once again played by Sylvester Stallone.