Now, I haven’t been into comic books from since about the age of 7 and I wouldn’t know T’Challa from a Child of God, but I do, on occasion, watch superhero movies.
Not a big fan.
Rarely Oscar-caliber stuff.
In fact, the one Oscar winner I can think of from a superhero movie was Heath Ledger’s “Joker” posthumously awarded for The Dark Knight which, quite honestly, I thought he wouldn’t have won if he’d lived and would have gone to, deservedly, Robert Downey Jr.’s brilliant turn in Tropic Thunder.
But as far as Coogler, I’d heard Fruitvale Station was good, but having seen the actual Oscar Grant footage, I haven’t been up to seeing the movie.
So I decided to check out Creed, Coogler’s second flick, this one also starring Michael B. Jordan and a movie that picks up the narrative of the old Sylvester Stallone-led Rocky franchise.
Coogler has his moments. He’s better-than-solid and already more than just competitive with his peers.
The thing that’s astonishing about him is his youth. Not even 30, and he’s light-years ahead of where Spike, Tarantino, and my personal fave, Woody Allen were at that age.
Plus, his movies – or at least what I can tell from this one – already have a feel.
Playing Tupac’s “Hail Mary” before the championship fight scene demonstrates the kind of timing and intuition one would expect from a grizzled vet.
At this rate and on his current curve, Coogler could go on to be the best ever.
The real revelation, however, was Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky.
The above-board racist interpretation on the Rocky franchise has, over the years, made it difficult for a non-white with any sociopolitical awareness whatsoever to genuinely enjoy the films.
The first Rocky‘s every-man had an appeal that transcended anything as narrow as race, and we were able to root for him as a guy that finally catches a break and gets a shot.
The fact that the shot comes up ultimately short makes the film believable.
The fact that Rocky makes the most of the shot, makes it heroic.
And we know the true story of Rocky. We know that Muhammad Ali was so loathed yet so dominant that America literally had to go to celluloid to find somebody who could top him.
Shit, city of Philadelphia gave a statue to a fictitious character before Dr. J!
But it was in Creed where Stallone’s Rocky, more than in any other Rocky movie save the first one, came to life.
He is, again, the guy we loved because we felt we knew him. He is alone, but not lonely, more like solitary, and while he was never bright, there’s an awareness to him; a wisdom.
He is both where and who Rocky I led us to believe that Rocky would be this many years later.
Stallone’s portrayal of his old creation was so nuanced that not only does Aries Spears owes him an apology, but I now want to see the performance that beat his for the Academy Award for which they were both nominated.
I haven’t seen this deserving a performance all decade and that includes all the fine work in Django and Birdman.
So yeah, if Coogler’s could bring out a Rocky that even I would like again, watch out Hollywood!
This boy’s potential may, in the end, have y’all building statues to fictional directors.