Ranking Stallone’s Rocky and Creed Films

My rankings of all 8 Rocky / Creed films to date

New York Post’s Peter Botte has ranked (WARNING: spoilers in his mini-reviews) all 8 Rocky films as follows:

  1. Rocky
  2. Creed
  3. Rocky II
  4. Rocky III
  5. Creed II
  6. Rocky Balboa
  7. Rocky IV
  8. Rocky V

Last year, I made a list and ranked the Rocky and Creed movies. Our rankings are pretty similar, although I felt Rocky II and Rocky III were better than Creed. If rewatching again, I might give an equal star rating to Creed II and Rocky Balboa as both were about equally entertaining to me. I give a slight nod to Creed II because it was nice to see Ivan Drago and Rocky on the screen together again, but it would have been better if they had brawled a bit.

In the outtake footage, there was a dust-up in the hospital.

Wish that hadn’t been cut! Director’s cut, Stallone, put that back in!

Here’s how I ranked them, you can click through on the titles and read my non-spoiler reviews:

  1. Rocky ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  2. Rocky II ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  3. Rocky III ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  4. Creed (review pending)
  5. Creed II ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  6. Rocky Balboa ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Rocky IV ⭐️⭐️½
  8. Rocky V ⭐️⭐️

Creed for me could not have happened without Rocky III, so how could Creed be a better movie? Sure, it could be, not arguing that really, but … well, subjective.

From here on, if you haven’t seen all the movies, go watch them on streaming. As of this writing they’re all available (for purchase) on Amazon Prime Video.

… you’ve been warned SPOILERS ahead …

Now, the acting, I’ll readily admit was better in Creed than Rocky III, but my goodness, Mr. T as the menacing Clubber Lang? Not to mention what happened to Mickey! MICK!!!!!!!! (in that incoherent Stallone crying scene).

What is Rocky saying?!? Maybe Mick could understand him … somehow

Rocky II felt like a solid continuation of Rocky, sort of in the way that Halloween II would continue where Halloween left off (only Halloween II was not a very good movie — but the timing of both movies was similar). I enjoyed in Rocky II how we learned Rocky needed to fight, to do all he knew how to do, to be a man. That was a really good, clever and logical story.

After Rocky II the series sort of became campy and there were notable inconsistencies. For example, in Rocky II Stallone isn’t skilled enough to do commercials, but in Rocky III he’s doing advertising and commercials everywhere? Sure, maybe he learned how to be in front of the camera, but it’s a stark inconsistency versus explained or shown character growth (maybe in the montage segments, it is explained?). I also think Rocky’s accent is much more pronounced in the first two Rocky films than in later ones.

Then again, how he became rich from the title defenses that were with “has beens” as Mickey put it, were a huge part of Rocky’s character arc. So maybe Stallone did explain it all in his rags to riches trilogy.

Stallone tried returning to the heart of the first two films in Rocky Balboa and I liked the boxing realism. It was a smart play what he did with Adrian, as well, although I did kind of miss seeing her and Rocky together.

Overall, I’m not sure we need any more Rocky or Creed films, the stories are a bit long in the tooth, but it sounds like we might be getting at least one more. I suppose if Stallone and company can dredge up a storyline that we haven’t seen explored with Rocky’s character.

How do you rank the Rocky films?


17 thoughts on “Ranking Stallone’s Rocky and Creed Films

  1. This might be a hot take, but I thought Creed was wack. Let me just situate myself, chronologically and culturally. I was born in ’79, so actually the first Rocky movie I was really old enough to see on my own was Rocky IV! On cable constantly when I was in about fourth grade. I know it’s well-known as an almost so-bad-it’s-good kind of movie, but so-bad it’s-good is good nonetheless! This has nothing to do with my original point, which is that I didn’t quite get what people were on about with Creed. I don’t know. Maybe I’m uptight; I just can’t stomach retconning or ex post facto attempts at adding to the Canon. Indiana Jones and The Crystal Whatever? Nope. Star Wars prequels? No thanks. So, my ranking would be like
    1) Rocky

    [massive space before subsequent entries]

    2) Rocky II
    3) Rocky IV
    4) Rocky III
    5) Rocky V and then ummm Creeds go on a separate list?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This last October I had a Rocky marathon at home actually, so everything’s still pretty fresh in my mind. Alright, here it goes:

    8. Rocky V – 3/10
    7. Rocky IV – 5/10 “Guilty Pleasure”
    6. Creed II – 6/10
    5. Rocky III – 6/10
    4. Rocky II – 7/10
    3. Creed – 8/10
    2. Rocky – 10/10
    1. Rocky Balboa – 10/10

    Honestly, it depends on my mindset for the top 2. At the moment, I enjoyed Rocky Balboa just a bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see why you might like Rocky Balboa. It’s a little more modern than the original, but without Adrian, I felt the love story was missing. Yes, it explored the love story of a fighter who misses the sport and his greatest love lost, but I just loved the romance of the first Rocky picture. That and how raw the whole production was. I mean, you’ve got Stallone clearly doing all of that in a rush, low budget. He had the world against him in that picture and he delivered one of the greatest stories ever and the ending wasn’t as sugary sweet cliched as it could have been. Conversely, Rocky Balboa feels like he was trying to relive that glory. Creed also has a great love story and excellent acting. I might move that up the ranking when I rewatch it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mmm, I see your point. Adrian and Rocky’s relationship was what the movie was really about, not so much winning against Apollo. He did lose in the end, but Adrian was all that he needed.

        Again, those two are usually swapped depending on the moment. I gave the top spot to Balboa because Rocky was the obvious answer.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it was a very clever love story and the boxing was the framework. It didn’t matter that Rocky lost, because he won in love. Then we get Rocky II and those who wanted Rocky to win get that outcome. But the best part of that movie was Adrian being sick and not wanting Rocky to fight and then she wakes up and says she wants him to do one thing for her, “Win!” That is one of the greatest moments in any of the Rocky films.

        Rocky Balboa, those scenes at Adrian’s gravesite are tough to watch when you’ve seen the rest of the movies, so I can see why someone would rank that movie higher. Powerful stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hopefully anybody else reading this caught my SPOILER warning in the post lol. But … another interesting aside about Rocky Balboa is the ending. Stallone left that very much like the first Rocky film. In an alternate take the fight comes out differently. I like it the way he left it vs. the less credible alternate take. Old, grizzled vet vs. young tiger — a great boxing match.


  4. Just caught that Cinemablend ranks the movies as follows:

    8. Rocky V (man, almost everybody agrees this was a misfire)
    7. Rocky II
    6. Rocky IV
    5. Rocky Balboa
    4. Creed II
    3. Rocky III
    2. Creed
    1. Rocky


    The original Creed getting more love at the second position. I remember it being very similar in structure to Rocky, but with a more modern spin and some of the best acting around by Michael B. Jordan. I’m not sure it’s better than every other Rocky film except the first though, that seems a bit high up the rankings, but an interesting ranking.


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