Creed III stepped into the ring, with the third entry into the Rocky the spin-off series is doing well critically and financially. This continues the consistent overall quality of the franchise, with the Rocky films being considered American classics. At the same time, there are a few weak points, namely the fifth entry, which nearly ended things for good.
Rocky V is notorious among the fanbase, and Sylvester Stallone, as the worst Rocky movie. What some don’t know, however, is that the movie was originally set to ring the final bell and kill the Italian Stallion. And if the movie had “gone dark,” there would never have been the redeeming sixth movie, let alone the current sequels starring Adonis Creed.
Rocky V was originally going to kill Rocky Off
Rocky V is the opposite of over-the-top Rocky IV, although this transition was not involuntary. Wanting to get away from the bombshell of the third and fourth movies and come full circle, Rocky V was a stark and sad return to the status quo of the first film. Rocky loses his immense wealth and is forced to return to his original working-class Philadelphia neighborhood, taking on a rough-and-tumble upstart named Tommy Gunn, who later betrays him for the promises of an unscrupulous developer. With original director John G. Alvidsen back to helm the series, everything seemed set to end Rocky Balboa’s story in a heartfelt way.
Unfortunately, many didn’t like how Rocky lost everything, and ending the film in a somewhat cartoonish street fight instead of a boxing match was a particularly sore point. Some have noted that it would have made more sense to have one final boxing match at Mickey’s old gymnasium, ending things right where the series began. Despite this disappointment, however, things could have ended on a much worse note.
The original intention of Rocky V had to kill Rocky after his fight with Gunn. This would have relied on the brain damage he suffered which forced him to retire from boxing, that retirement and a poor investment deal leaving him financially destitute. Dying with his head in Adrian’s hands, the death of the Italian stallion would then be announced by his widow. Filming began with this ending in mind, but the studio ultimately rejected the idea. And the new conclusion wasn’t a happy one, as Rocky was still broke and with nothing to show for his many accomplishments. Still, it set the series up for true redemption, which would have been impossible had he been dead.
Rocky Balboa and Creed redeemed the disappointing Rocky V
More than a decade after the critical and financial failure of Rocky VStallone came out with the much more well-received Rocky Balboa. Intended as the series’ epilogue, the film’s older, more contemplative Rocky was even more saddening yet far more human than he had been in the previous film. If anything, the movie worked so well because Rocky had already lost everything Rocky V, with Adrian’s death in between only further emphasizing that feeling of loneliness. The film was a triumphant farewell to a legendary movie character, even if he still had a bit of a fight left. Appearing in the first two Creed movies, Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky in the first of these spin-offs would almost see him receive an Oscar. Even with his absence in the third film, it’s clear that the house Rocky built is stronger than ever.
None of this would have been possible if Rocky VThe original ending of was used. This conclusion would have killed Rocky once and for all, completely destroying the potential for new sequels and spinoffs. At the time, it may have been well received by moviegoers, especially given the response to the fifth film. In retrospect, however, keeping Rocky alive and kicking was the best move for the show, as it would later reach new heights once Rocky entered the 2000s.