Rocky Balboa is one of the most recognizable movie characters in cinema history. Released in 1976, the movie Rocky pits Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), the reigning boxing champ, with an unknown contender for a title shot at the World Heavyweight Championship of the World. The film also made a star out of Sylvester Stallone and propelled his career to new heights.
Today’s Wednesday Warriors series looks at Rocky Balboa, his trials, his successes and his life lessons.
If anyone were to describe Rocky, the first thing to pop out of anyone’s mouth would be, “Yo, Adrian.” But there is more to the character Rocky than the punchy delivery of lines and his often-slurred speech. Rocky is a symbol of perseverance. No matter how bad things get, he always seems to have that extra ounce of energy tucked away to use at the last moment when all things appear hopeless. It’s that will to never surrender that makes Rocky all the more imitable. His slight slowness does not deter him to see what’s in front of him. He knows the stakes to his battles. He knows the risk he takes every time he walks into that ring.
His record speaks for itself:
That list does not include the myriad of other contenders vying to overthrow him as the World Heavyweight champ, which he has also defeated.
Mickey (Burgess Meredith), his no-nonsense trainer believes in the clichéd school of hard knocks. To press Rocky for speed, he releases a chicken in an alley and tells Rocky to go fetch. Naturally, Rocky feels like a Kentucky Fried Idiot when he can’t catch it. Yet, he finds the time to laugh and carry on when he traps the quick-footed poultry in his grasp to raise it in the air in victory.
The other aspect in Rocky’s life is Adrian (Talia Shire). She’s the ugly duckling no one wants. He sees something in her no one else had seen. He sees her inner beauty. He sees her tender heart. And he see her strong and sensible mindset that keeps him anchored in reality. Their story is a familiar one. He visits her at the pet shop where she works, tells a few jokes and they go out for the first time skating. He walks her home. They become a couple.
Adrian is the only one who can give Rocky the reason to keep fighting. Without her, he’s nothing. She gives him the will to press harder than before. And with her help, he’s able to conquer his deepest fears.
Most of all, Rocky represents an unwavering belief in fighting for what’s right. In every fight, he sets his mind at winning. On the other hand, his opponent represents oppression. If anything, Rocky will do everything in his power to fight oppression. Have a look at Rocky IV. The film seeps in opposing countries working together to come to an amicable resolution.
Overall, Rocky may be the butt of jokes for reviewers, but he has proven no matter how powerful the competition, he manages to fight and win—even if the audience expects otherwise.
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Have you watched any of the Rocky movies? What do you think of the character?
9 thoughts on “Rocky Balboa”
Great analysis of the Rocky series. The most recent one is supposed to be really good. I also loved the original soundtrack.
The first one always stays in the mind and I think the music played a large part in making the film iconic. There can’t be many people who haven’t seen the sequence with the big theme and Rocky running up the flight of steps outside that big building.
The Rocky theme is one of my absolute favorite pieces of music. Whenever I put it on, I feel like wanting to conquer the world!
I loved I, II, & III. IV not so much.
I have never been a purveyor of the pugilist profession but I like the symbolism of the Rocky movies.
The series is one of my favorite. Also love the symbolism!
The underdog wins. I rephrase that the ugly underdog wins.
Watched all of them, but vaguely remember Rocky V. Think it’s better that way. I actually really liked the last one because of where the character ended up. He didn’t have a perfect life and was trying to stay in his past glory. Something about that felt oddly realistic. I heard they’re making a new one with Rocky training Apollo Creed’s son or grandson or something.
I heard about that rumor as well and the Apollo Creed connection. It ought to be good!