The mesmerizing tale of Rocky Balboa has been a cornerstone of American cinema since the release of the first “Rocky” movie in 1976. Portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, Rocky’s journey from a struggling boxer in Philadelphia to an international icon is a story that’s both empowering and poignant. And in recent years, this story has seamlessly transformed into the tale of Adonis Creed, breathing new life into a franchise that spans nearly five decades.

The Rocky series was always more than just boxing. It vividly depicted love, friendship, rivalry, and redemption. The recent Creed movies, helmed by the character Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), have gracefully transitioned the narrative from Rocky to Adonis, offering a fresh perspective and a respectful nod to the past. With the recent release of “Creed III” in 2023, the saga has reached a new milestone, marking the first time Stallone doesn’t don the gloves as Rocky Balboa.

Related: Top 20 Sylvester Stallone Movies of All Time

Sylvester Stallone, a genius in his own right, has been a pillar in front of the camera and behind the scenes, writing many of the scripts. Taking inspiration from the epic 1975 bout between Chuck Wepner and Muhammad Ali, Stallone created an empire. The training montages, the robust dialogue, and the memorable matches – are all iconic hallmarks of a franchise that’s captivated multiple generations.

For those newcomers to this cinematic experience or long-time fans wanting to relive the adrenaline, the love, and the drama, here’s a detailed guide on how to watch the Rocky and Creed movies in their chronological order:

Rocky Movies in Order of Release Date

  • Rocky – December 3rd, 1976
  • Rocky II – June 15th, 1979
  • Rocky III – May 28th, 1982
  • Rocky IV – November 27th, 1985
  • Rocky V – November 16th, 1990
  • Rocky Balboa – December 20th, 2006
  • Creed – November 25th, 2015
  • Creed II – November 21st, 2018
  • Creed III – March 3rd, 2023
  • Creed IV – TBD

1 ‘Rocky’ (1976)

Rocky (1976)

IMDb: 8.1/10 609K | Popularity: 678 | Top 250: #212 | Metascore: 70

Duration: 2h | Genres: Drama, Sport

Director: John G. Avildsen

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

It’s 1976. Philadelphia’s streets echo with the rhythm of everyday life, and among its residents is Rocky Balboa, portrayed with undeniable authenticity by Sylvester Stallone. This isn’t just another rags-to-riches tale; this is the story of an underdog scraping by in the world of low-tier boxing and eking out a living in the shadows of debt collection.

Stallone, who wore multiple hats as the lead actor and the film’s scriptwriter, paints a picture of a man on the brink. When Rocky is granted a shot against the formidable Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), the challenge is immense. But the real battle lies within. Can he conquer self-doubt? Can he rise above the limitations of his life and seize the opportunity?

Surrounding Rocky are a cast of characters that define his world. There’s Adrian (Talia Shire), his soft-spoken pillar of strength; Paulie (Burt Young), with his brash brand of loyalty; and Mickey (Burgess Meredith), the seasoned coach with a treasure trove of boxing wisdom. Each relationship adds layers to Rocky’s journey, making his ascent all the more riveting.

“Rocky” isn’t just a film about boxing; it’s about fighting life’s bouts, where the real challenge is often against oneself. It’s a narrative that, decades later, continues to resonate, proving that some stories are truly timeless.

[ Watch on Prime Video ]

2 ‘Rocky II’ (1979)

Rocky II knockout sequel

IMDb: 7.3/10 225K | Popularity: 3446 | Metascore: 61

Duration: 1h 59m | Genres: Drama, Sport

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

When you’ve given everything you’ve got, and the world still demands more, what do you do? Sylvester Stallone answers that question in the gripping continuation, “Rocky II.” Fresh off the heels of a match that left audiences spellbound, Rocky finds himself grappling with the allure of fame and the weight of expectations. His grueling fifteen rounds against Apollo Creed might not have secured him a definitive victory, but they’ve won him admiration and made him the darling of Philadelphia.

However, not everyone’s singing his praises. Apollo Creed, the man who thought Rocky would be a walkover, is fuming. The “easy match-up” has become a scar on his prestigious career, and now he’s on the hunt for redemption. He’s hungry, relentless, and challenging Rocky to step into the ring again.

Related: “Rocky II” Review: A Knockout of a Sequel

For Rocky, the stakes are higher than ever. The allure of settling down with Adrian, enjoying his newfound fame, and staying out of harm’s way is tempting. Yet, the heart of a boxer beats within him, reminding him of the glory and honor that comes from proving oneself. With Stallone donning the director’s hat this time, “Rocky II” is as much about the battles outside the ring as it is about the ones within. A tale of resilience, honor, and the ever-persistent human spirit, it’s a sequel that packs a punch.

[ Watch on Prime Video ]

3 ‘Rocky III’ (1982)

Rocky III (1982)

IMDb: 6.8/10 205K | Popularity: 2453 | Metascore: 57

Duration: 1h 39m | Genres: Drama, Sport

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Mr. T

In the swirling vortex of fame and fortune, Rocky Balboa seems to have found his rhythm in “Rocky III” (1982). With the victory against Apollo Creed under his belt, Rocky is reveling in a more luxurious boxing experience, focusing on opponents who lack Creed’s might. Yet, the boxing world is always full of surprises. Enter Clubber Lang, portrayed by the fierce Mr. T. From their initial encounter, it’s evident that Lang is not just another notch on Rocky’s belt. He’s raw, powerful, and intent on dethroning the champion.

With his legacy on the line, Rocky confronts a humbling realization: he needs help. And who better to turn to than the very man he once considered his arch-nemesis, Apollo Creed? Their transition from adversaries to comrades showcases the depth and evolution of their relationship, adding a rich layer to the Rocky saga.

“Rocky III” isn’t just a showcase of punches and jabs; it’s about finding allies in the unlikeliest of places, confronting one’s vulnerabilities, and rediscovering the fire that fuels a champion’s heart.

[ Watch on Netflix ]

4 ‘Rocky IV’ (1985)

Rocky IV (1985)

IMDb: 6.9/10 220K | Popularity: 2135 | Metascore: 40

Duration: 1h 31m | Genres: Drama, Sport

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Dolph Lundgren

Set against the backdrop of the escalating tensions of the Cold War era, “Rocky IV” (1985) introduces us to a challenge that isn’t merely about boxing titles but national pride. The embodiment of Soviet strength and precision, Ivan Drago, played menacingly by Dolph Lundgren, steps onto the global stage. But the stakes skyrocket when an exhibition match turns fatal, and Apollo Creed, Rocky’s dear friend and former rival, falls victim to Drago’s brute power.

Devastated and burning with a thirst for retribution, Rocky decides that it’s time to lace up his gloves once more. But this fight is more than just personal. It’s a symbolic battle between East and West, each punch echoing the sentiments of millions across continents.

“Rocky IV” takes the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster, combining the intensity of the ring with the poignant beats of loss, determination, and redemption. Though the film unmistakably sports its 80s attire with spirited montages and iconic tracks, beneath the vibrant aesthetics is a story of a man’s unyielding spirit in the face of overwhelming odds.

[ Watch on Netflix ]

5 ‘Rocky V’ (1990)

Rocky V (1990)

IMDb: 5.3/10 147K | Popularity: 3405 | Metascore: 55

Duration: 1h 44m | Genres: Drama, Sport

Director: John G. Avildsen

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison

Venturing into unfamiliar territory, “Rocky V” peels back the glamorous veneer of the boxing world to lay bare its emotional toll. A change of pace from its predecessors, this installment presents a Rocky scarred by battles, both personal and professional. No longer the formidable fighter of yore, he steps away from the spotlight and finds a new purpose: molding the future in the form of a raw talent, Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison).

Reverting to a more intimate narrative, the film taps into the unique directorial touch of John G. Avildsen, who returns to helm this installment. With Avildsen’s direction, the story becomes a poignant reflection on the perils of fame. As Tommy’s rise mirrors Rocky’s early days, a rift grows, painting a stark contrast between ambition and loyalty.

While “Rocky V” may stray from the familiar triumph-over-adversity theme that defined earlier films, it offers a somber, introspective look into the world of boxing. From mentorship to rivalry, Rocky’s journey with Tommy underscores the fickle nature of success and the enduring value of true relationships.

[ Watch on Netflix ]

6 ‘Rocky Balboa’ (2006)

Rocky Balboa (2006)

IMDb: 7.1/10 227K | Popularity: 2602 | Metascore: 63

Duration: 1h 42m | Genres: Action, Drama, Sport

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Tarver, Milo Ventimiglia

Embracing the essence of the first Rocky with a touch of nostalgia, Rocky Balboa emerges as a heart-rending tribute to the indomitable spirit of the series. Stepping back into the boxing ring after long years of retirement, Rocky is spurred into action not by personal ambition but by a simulated bout victory over the reigning heavyweight champion, Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon (Antonio Tarver).

But beyond the sport, this chapter in the Balboa saga digs deeper. It delves into the intricacies of human emotion, focusing on Rocky’s pain of losing Adrian and the fractured relationship with his son, Rocky Jr. (Milo Ventimiglia). Under Stallone’s deft direction, the film seamlessly blends past and present, pulling heartstrings and evoking the essence of a fighter who has lived a life full of battles, both in the ring and out. In Rocky Balboa, the spotlight isn’t solely on the iconic boxer’s last hurrah but on his resilient spirit and the importance of legacy.

[ Watch on Prime Video ]

7 ‘Creed’ (2015)

Creed (2015)

IMDb: 7.6/10 303K | Popularity: 2360 | Metascore: 82

Duration: 2h 13m | Genres: Action, Drama, Sport

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew

Evolution and rebirth resonate in Creed, where the world is reintroduced to the boxing universe through fresh eyes. Carrying the weight of a legacy and the shadows of a father he never knew, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) chooses to step out from the obscurity of underground fights, embracing the Creed lineage.

With determination in his eyes, he seeks guidance from none other than Rocky Balboa, the man who once went toe-to-toe with his father. The poignant mentorship between the seasoned boxer and the budding star underscores a tale of identity, legacy, and ambition.

While Rocky confronts his own mortality, Adonis discovers the essence of his being. With a contemporary vibe, Creed breathes new life into the Rocky franchise, offering a heart-pounding journey of raw emotions and intense passion for the sport.

[ Watch on Prime Video ]

8 ‘Creed II’ (2018)

Creed II (2018)

IMDb: 7.1/10 150K | Popularity: 4015 | Metascore: 66

Duration: 2h 10m | Genres: Action, Drama, Sport

Director: Steven Caple Jr.

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu

Creed II brings forth a tale of redemption and legacy in the boxing universe, seamlessly merging the past with the present. As Adonis revels in the joys of his newfound love and family with Bianca (Tessa Thompson), the echoes of the past arise in the formidable form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the flesh and blood of the man who claimed his father’s life in the ring.

Trained under the rigorous hand of Ivan Drago, Viktor is a stark reminder of the dark shadows that haunted the Creed legacy. Adonis finds himself at a crossroads, balancing the weight of responsibility towards his family and the burning desire to confront old rivalries.

Through a narrative that melds vengeance with purpose, Creed II offers a gripping chronicle that delves deep into the psyche of a fighter wrestling with ghosts from a bygone era, all while shaping the future of his legacy.

[ Watch on Prime Video ]

9 ‘Creed III’ (2023)

Creed III (2023)

IMDb: 6.8/10 83K | Popularity: 1087 | Metascore: 73

Duration: 1h 56m | Genres: Drama, Sport

Director: Michael B. Jordan

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Phylicia Rashad

Creed III takes us on a unique and reflective journey, far removed from the familiar trails of its predecessors. Helmed by Michael B. Jordan in a dual role both in front of and behind the camera, this iteration delves into deeply personal terrains.

As the old saying goes, our past often catches up with us, and for Adonis Creed, this materializes in the form of childhood friend Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors). Fresh out from an 18-year incarceration, Damian is not just on a quest for redemption but also on a mission to settle old scores.

This fresh direction in the Creed series, without any callbacks to the legacy of Stallone, asserts its own voice, introducing fans to a narrative about confronting unresolved history and finding one’s own path amidst looming shadows.

[ Watch on Prime Video ]

Future of Rocky and Creed Movies

‘Creed IV’

As the Creed saga continues to unfold, anticipation builds for what lies ahead in Creed IV. Stemming from the iconic Rocky series, the Creed chapters have garnered their own distinct identity and acclaim. The inception of this storyline, with Creed in 2015, introduced us to Apollo Creed’s prodigal son, Adonis “Donnie” Creed, portrayed by the charismatic Michael B. Jordan. With Rocky serving as both mentor and cornerman, the young Creed’s journey parallels many facets of Rocky’s own, yet also ventures into new territories, resonating with a contemporary audience.

Creed II and III solidified the series’ staying power, demonstrating not just the legacy of the Rocky franchise but the independent strength of the Creed narrative. This was especially evident in Creed III, which propelled the story further without the presence of Rocky Balboa. Now, as the whispers of Creed IV begin to circulate, questions arise: Can it outshine the legacy of Rocky IV, a film that remains etched in the memories of many? How will Donnie’s journey evolve, especially if Michael B. Jordan returns to both star and perhaps direct?

One thing is certain: The Creed films have established themselves as more than just a spin-off, creating a cinematic legacy in their own right. With Creed IV on the horizon, fans are eager to witness the next evolution in Adonis Creed’s life, both in and out of the ring.

Jimmy P

Senior Editor, BuddyTV