By Jeff Labrecque
February 15, 2016 at 01:27 PM EST
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The story behind the making of the original Rocky is even more of a Cinderella story than Rocky Balboa’s longshot challenge in the ring, with then-nobody Sylvester Stallone refusing to give up the role of a lifetime that he’d written for himself. What’s doubly great about Creed, the surprise sequel from Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, is that it lives up to the original’s reputation on the screen and behind the scenes. 

Coogler had the seed for Creed while in film school, and he pitched the idea of Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), putting on the gloves and being an underdog pugilist who seeks counsel from a breaking-down Rocky to Stallone — who wasn’t that interested at first. Fast forward several years and Creed made $109.2 million at the box office and Stallone is a heavy favorite to win the best Supporting Actor Oscar for the same role that made him famous 40 years ago. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Creed becomes available on Digital HD — it arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on March 1 — and EW has an exclusive deleted scene. There’s no doubt that the shadow of Apollo Creed looms over the film; though Adonis poses and says defiantly at one point, “I don’t know him. [His death] ain’t got nothing to do with me.” The film is careful not to ring the father-son bell too loudly, a wise decision because it’s already understood without getting too specific. That said, there was a scene where Donny and Rocky finally address the elephant in the room: Donny challenges his mentor on whether he knew Apollo was unfaithful to his wife (Phylicia Rashad) and having a relationship with the woman who became his mother. 

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In Rocky mythology, Rocky shouldered a lot of guilt for not preventing Apollo’s death, and in Creed, it’s noted that he quickly lost touch with Apollo’s widow after speaking at his friend’s funeral. In the deleted scene, nice-guy Rocky answers honestly but isn’t eager to probe too deeply. A phone rings inside and he doesn’t seem bothered by the inconvenience and opportunity to skip out. People who’ve seen the film, though, might suspect that the phone call isn’t good news.

A Creed sequel already has a November 2017 release date, though Coogler, who is directing the Black Panther movie for Marvel, might not be as involved. 

Rocky spinoff
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  • Movie
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  • PG-13
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  • 95 minutes
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