The Correct Order To Watch The Rocky Franchise

To reiterate, you could skip all the Rocky-led films and start with the ones about Adonis. The “Creed” movies mostly stand on their own, but they’re far less rewarding if you haven’t already seen what came before them. As such, the correct viewing order is as follows:

  • Rocky (1976)
  • Rocky II (1979)
  • Rocky III (1982)
  • Rocky IV (1985)
  • Rocky V (1990)
  • Rocky Balboa (2006)
  • Creed (2015)
  • Creed II (2018)
  • Creed III (2023)

The original “Rocky” is very much emblematic of 1970s New Hollywood cinema. It’s a scrappy, character-driven sports drama about an Italian-American journeyman who’s been reduced to collecting money for loan sharks when he gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go the distance with a world-champion boxer. For Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote the film in addition to playing the titular pugilist, it’s a deeply personal story that parallels his own real-life journey and you can feel that in his performance. We, as the audience, revel in Rocky’s victories as much as we share the weight of his failures.

It’s no wonder “Rocky” spawned a franchise. For all of his woes, Rocky is way less tormented than other New Hollywood protagonists and his story is one of triumph over adversity, a far cry from the darkness of earlier ’70s classics. You can readily grasp why the adorable, introverted Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire) falls head over heels for Balboa’s charms. Even her brother Paulie (the late, always great Burt Young), for all his bluster and tough-guy outbursts, is just a big ol’ softie at his core. And who doesn’t love Rocky’s cocky, charismatic frenemy Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) or his grizzled, growling mentor Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith)? These are the kind of characters you want to revisit, again and again.

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