There’s a scene in Creed where the latest brash boxer who challenges the upstart protégé of Rocky Balboa barks, “No one cares about Balboa anymore!”
Yo, through 40 years of Rocky as an underdog, champion, and aging, widowed fighter, fans sure do care.
Dressed in robes, fedora hats and even boxing boots, the costumed enthusiasts chanting “Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!” had one more reason to cheer for Philadelphia’s favourite fictional son.
Sylvester Stallone and fellow Creed actors Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson, writer-director Ryan Coogler and producer Irwin Winkler attended a celebration of the movie atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps.
Mayor Michael Nutter after attending the screening said the movie should win an Academy Award for best picture. The Rocky series spawned six more movies, and all the films shared a common co-star with Stallone — Philadelphia.
“The movie put Philadelphia literally on the map,” Nutter said.
Stallone’s run through the Italian Market and up the museum’s 72 steps in the first movie propped both locations from local landmarks into iconic tourist attractions. A bronze statue of the hard-luck fighter stands at the base of the steps.
Creed opens a more modern Philadelphia to a new generation of fans: Johnny Brenda’s, Max’s Steaks, Front Street Gym. All take centre stage in the new flick and so does newer lingo. “Yo!” makes way for “jawn”, a Philly word that can be used to describe anything.
When Los Angeles transplant Creed (Jordan) has his first cheesesteak with love interest Bianca (Thompson), she asks for “some peppers on that jawn”.
“Jawn this, jawn that,” Creed said. “What’s that?”
Thompson said she spent about two months around Philadelphia to add native authenticity to her character.
“There’s no better way to learn how to be a Philly jawn than just spend a lot of time in some Philly jawns,” she said.
Rocky has become as much a Philadelphia institution as the Liberty Bell and Stallone is always greeted with a frenzy normally reserved for its real-life sports heroes.
“I started skipping rocks in the Schuylkill River over there when I was 12 years old,” said Stallone, who lived Philly as a teen. “So all you kids in the audience there, if you don’t think you can make it up these steps of life, which is kind of represented here by this museum, don’t you believe that. Because if I can do it, you can do it.”