Rocky Balboa is easily one of the most iconic characters in film history. Back in 1976, Rocky put Sylvester Stallone on the map after becoming the highest-grossing film of the year. Thanks to its cult following, greenlighting sequels was not that hard for Sly, and so in 43 years, we got nine whole movies, including the Creed trilogy. But are they all as good as the first one? Let’s find out!
1. Rocky V (1990)
Rocky V is easily the weakest installment in the franchise. In 1990, Sylvester Stallone seemed too old to throw hands for 15 rounds, and the movie’s $42 million budget didn’t show. It feels more like an amateur production. Even the subplot involving Rocky’s son is poorly written. The drama and action both fall flat. While the earlier films had some impressive boxing scenes, Rocky V doesn’t deliver. The final street fight between Rocky and his student feels more like a scuffle between kids. In every aspect, this film falls short, especially compared to the original. It deserves its place as the worst entry in the series.
2. Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky V tried to break from franchise conventions, but the sequels from the second to the fourth stuck to the original’s formula, with some deviations. However, Rocky IV dared to be different by opening with Apollo Creed’s shocking death. While this was a powerful moment, the rest of the film follows the familiar training and fight sequence, just in a different setting: the cold, snowy USSR. The movie isn’t a total letdown, as it handles the drama well, and the initial Creed vs. Drago battle is intense. Yet, the final Balboa/Drago fight is a letdown because the outcome is too obvious.
3. Rocky III (1982)
The third Rocky movie seems unnecessary and lacks the depth of the first two. It introduces a new, uninspiring boxer challenging Rocky, and the plot feels weak. The only real focus is Rocky’s loss and eventual win to avenge his friend, which is the entire story. On the bright side, the movie handles the death of a beloved character in a touching and tragic way. Another positive is the reunion of Rocky and Apollo, with Creed becoming Rocky’s coach. Despite all that, the film falls short in both the action and storytelling departments, making it a questionable addition to the series.