Creed (2015), written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covingto, was a box office success and a positively reviewed movie. How was the script? Let’s analyze it.
- Draft Read: 9/30/14
- Type: Spec
- Page Count: 119
- Reading Speed: Medium
- Setting(s): Los Ageless, Philadelphia, London, Liverpool, U.K.
- Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning a multiple months
- Genre(s): Action, Sports
- Theme(s): Boxing, Love, Loyalty, Family, Grit, Destiney, Coming-of-Age
- Protagonist Change: Significant
Formulaic and fun. What the people paid to see. Exactly what you would expect. No, this isn’t the real-life latest boxing bout, it’s a work of fiction that takes the usual themes of grit, tenacity and of course family from our favorite boxing film series. And of course, a supporting role from the wise Rocky Balboa himself.
It’s worth noting that this script feels rough; not polished. But that’s fine. After all, the writer is also the director. And many of the shots, particularly those during the boxing match, are going to require so much behind-the-scenes setup with the DP that there’s not much of a point in getting anything more than the bare-bones on paper.
Formulas work and this script is no exception: It hits all the necessary points and has characters that are complex and flawed, which makes them instantly relatable.
Bianca is a fantastic supporting star. She’s a young woman, but has her own career in music and is independent. This is of course the natural progression for the women in the Rocky franchise, and it’s a welcome one.
On Pages 90-91 Rocky wakes up from surgery and we jump right into a training montage. I like it because #1 it’s fast-paced and moves past the well-worn stereotypical emotional hospital scenes, but it also leaves the fate of Rocky up in the air, which pays off in Act 3.
Perhaps one drawback to the formula would be that the front half of the script (perhaps even the whole first two acts) dragged a bit. I mean, we all know who Rocky is. It’s pretty predictable what type of character his protégé is going to be. Bottom line; a bit too much world-building.
The way scenes are connected varies in success. For example, Adonis misses Bianca’s concert as he is distraught that Rocky just came down with cancer (makes sense), but how this happens is that he simply falls asleep in on (if I recall correctly) the famous Rocky Steps. Kind of a stretch. In the same vain, some of the verbal fights between Rocky and Adonis felt forced, and their duration too limited to account for the quick rekindling of friendship that ensues.
Spelling errors? Who cares. Loose =/ lose. Or perhaps my favorite: a blatant misspelling of Hodgkins Lymphoma (not Hodgekins), which I would totally butcher by a wider margin myself, but am shocked of the one letter off error considering I figured the writer duo must have Googled the phrase to get it that close to being correct. Odd. How about my favorite action line (Page 82):
Rocky walks out of the front door looking for Adonis. He opens the door and sticks his head in.
I presume it should have said walks up to the front door, but I’m not really sure.
Random characters appearing in scenes with no introduction. Check.
The villain: Porter. I’ll expand a bit more in the characters section, but he was a disappointment. He just wasn’t scary. Wasn’t memorable. Was no Ivan Drago (a name I remember all these years later).
Adonis Johnson, aka Creed, turns to boxing to make a name for himself. Creed is also the grandson of Apollo Creed. And guess what? Creed has been offered a one-in-a-lifetime fight. And who’s his coach? Rocky. You could probably outline the rest of the script yourself and get it 90% right.
Adonis Johnson, aka Creed, the star; trying to find his place and path forward. Rocky Balboa, as we remember him, decaying yet still full of advice and guidance for the younger Creed.
The best supporting character? Bianca. Explained why above.
Porter the villain is somewhat misguided. The inclusion of his family makes him complex, but his personal stakes are never really established. Sure, at the press conference it’s noted he came from nothing, but there’s no real reason he needs to win the fight, or conversely, there’s no drawback if he loses the fight.
Dialogue & Pacing
Hit or miss dialogue. One example (Page 30):
Where are we right now?
So this is why the Fresh Prince’s mom sent him to Bel Air.
Meh. Page 60:
You could find an insult in a box of roses, huh?
No additional notes on pacing.
The Rocky films always play with our emtoions. This story is no exception; the underdog takes on the champ with everything on the line.
There are the added subplots such as Rocky’s cancer, the girl, and so forth, but the A story itself really seals the deal. It’s an impactful script. Nothing more to say.
Best Part of The Script
Most people would think the final fight is the highlight of the script. It may be the most entertaining, but it’s not the best.
The Act 3 buildup. That’s where the meat of the story is here. The tension between Adonis and Rocky, Adonis and Bianca, Rocky and his illness, and so forth. It’s what gives the fight the emotional punch. Pun intended. Because ultimately, you could find a million movie boxing scenes online, but the characters, built through fighting, reconciling, high and lows, life lessons, etc. lead you to invest in them.