The ‘Rocky’ Spin-Off ‘Creed’ Looks Great, and We’re As Surprised As You Are

If we’re being honest, your film editor was more than a little cynical about Creed, the forthcoming Rocky “spin-off” movie that finds our mumbly hero—played by Sylvester Stallone, for the seventh time—mentoring the son of his late opponent-turned-friend Apollo Creed. At first blush, it sounds like yet another entry in the Stallone Beating His Old Dead Horses sweepstakes, a years-long attempt by the faded superstar to turn nostalgia into relevance via such efforts as the Expendables movies, the 2008 Rambo, and, of course, 2006’s Rocky Balboa.

But now there’s a Creed trailer, and holy cow:

The important element that sets Creed apart from those other efforts is Stallone’s lack of involvement on the filmmaking side. Unlike the most recent Rocky and Rambo movies and the Expendables series, Stallone neither wrote nor directed Creed (he’s credited as producer and for creating the characters). Those jobs were filled by Ryan Coogler, the gifted writer/director of Fruitvale Station—which also starred Creed leading man Michael B. Jordan—who reportedly devised the movie on his own, as a Rocky fan, before pitching it to Stallone and original series producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. (And yes, you glimpsed Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashād in there as well, as if you didn’t have enough reasons to see it.)

Creed hits theaters on November 25.