From revenge to propaganda: boxing from Rocky to Creed

From revenge to propaganda: boxing from Rocky to Creed

From revenge to propaganda

It is impossible to watch the films of the Creed series without making even a comparison with the Rocky stories, also because they are spin-off sequels of the same story, with the direct involvement of Sylvester Stallone. Indeed, it was precisely this specific detail that drove people to the theater with the first film, intrigued by what they could get out of a story like this.

Well, the Creed films (you can find the first two on Amazon ), while drawing a lot from those of Rocky , especially from a structural point of view , they have always tried to stand out in some way, outlined by a writing that from the beginning has focused on the imperfections of the characters in the game , without too much idealizing their specific situation in relation to the sport of boxing. The modernization of intent is felt throughout these stories which, unlike those released in the 70s, 80s and 90s, seek first of all a credibility in what happens both outside and inside the ring, distributing the importance of what narrated in a fairly balanced way.

In the ascendant parable of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) we find many of the elements also present in that of Rocky, even if in this case the situation is framed by an anger and suffering that make everything blacker and darker, in a certain way, and boxing itself is not limited to being a means by which to rise within society, but a real central element in the search for oneself and what one would or should be.

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From revenge to propaganda: boxing from Rocky to Creed

All Rocky's films talk about boxing and the cruelty you can incur when you enter the ring, especially when it is practiced at very high levels of professionalism. The Creed films take this dynamic and turn it into a series of sequences that are much tougher and more direct than ever before, with the sport always playing a central role in the narrative, but at the same time being stripped of any epic frills, or filters. The matches, in the various Creeds, are full of blood and physical pain taken in detail compared to what happened in Rocky: teeth broken and detached on the spot, doctors in the ring trying to fix what they can before the end of the fight, with a much more direct physicality than in the past, ready to further highlight the violence in progress. Even Adonis, like Rocky , does not hesitate to enter the ring, even if the danger he faces from time to time is more evident than ever before the eyes of the spectators, much more than in the past.

Furthermore, in all three Creed stories we see this sport at the service of very clear themes specifically related to the protagonist and what is happening around him . Differently from the past, therefore, it is not just about sport, sponsors, money and respect, but about a narrative tool that moves hand in hand with the evolution of the events taking place.

The story of the first Creed is both very simple (structurally) and quite complex emotionally and psychologically. Here we are introduced to the young protagonist, the son of the legendary Apollo, who feels the need to find himself, feeling closely linked to his father's shadow, a shadow that is very large and difficult to shake off. However, he is determined to follow in his footsteps, drawn to boxing in a visceral way, while trying to figure out who he really is. A training story therefore, through an extremely violent sport, made up of conflicts not only in the ring but also outside, within the home, and in the eyes of a boy who must try to achieve what he really wants from life. Not glory for its own sake, but identity and a certain type of wholly personal pride.

In the second, the proximity to Rocky's films becomes even more cumbersome, in a positive way, with a Creed 2 that transforms into a story ready to reflect even more on the father-son relationship and historical legacies. Coming face to face with the son of the man who killed his father, Adonis will face an even greater physical and technical challenge than ever before, as he continues to grow beyond the ring. Here Sylvester Stallone's Rocky gets even closer to Adonis, while the young man is preparing to become a father himself. This reflection guides the entire narrative, becoming the mirror of the torments of every single protagonist, even of the antagonists themselves who here, finally, are not full-blown specks, but human beings who mature within their own relationship through boxing.

The return of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and his son (Florian Munteanu) for example, in addition to instilling a certain fear, further highlighted by the way they are photographed and drawn, puts great pressure on the relationship between the two , composed of a glacial coldness closely connected with the sport of boxing, in their case understood as a means by which to take revenge for what happened in Rocky IV , but also as the only trait to bring them together. United by a completely paternal revenge these two, in addition to training hard for a country that sees them as simple objects to be opposed to American ideology (in fact, in the fourth Rocky film, the role of the antagonist has no other purpose than a simplistic anti-Russian propaganda, which never goes beyond the actual surface of the facts), will take a path that will lead them to reflect, even if in a very subtle way, on what they really are and what they want, distancing themselves from any other product of the series released in the past. In the Creeds, even the villains have their own narrative weight and are multifaceted just right, once again using a sport that doesn't just want to demonstrate who is the strongest.

In Creed 3 we find such dynamics once again. In the film Adonis has grown up and we are served a much more adult and bourgeois version of him than in the past. His money and success have allowed him to step away from the ring to devote himself to his family, investing in the sport he loves without direct involvement. When everything seems to be going well, however, a shadow from his past peeps out again.

In the third film, therefore, boxing becomes a memory that delves into the protagonist's harsh past, and an instrument closely connected with the his psyche. The narrative evolution from the first two chapters is evident, framed by a direction hungry for ghosts and all-inner demons. Getting into the ring, in this case, turns into a strictly personal and emotional matter, made up of insecurities and torments that Adonis himself had buried in the depths of his soul. A further journey into the depths of this protagonist who is far from being a perfect American hero and always ready to fight and knock down his opponent. Dealing with yourself is one of the mother rules of all these films, even of the Rockies; in Creed, however, the situation becomes clearer than ever in certain moments, especially in this film which uses the formal dimension to tell the story of two characters who have suffered, and who are unable to find any other dialogue than the extreme violence in the ring.

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