Posts Tagged ‘Mr. T.’

In hindsight, the 1982 film Rocky III turned out to be an important piece of the 1980‘s. Continuing the tradition from the last sequel, it opens with a recap of Rocky’s victory over Apollo Creed in Rocky II, before that famous guitar riff starts and the Eye of the Tiger montage begins. We see Rocky enjoying wealth and fame, doing commercials, and appearing on the Muppet show. All the while Rocky is defending his title against various opponents, eventually stacking up ten title defenses. Meanwhile, a young hungry southpaw named Clubber Lang (Mr. T) is racking up victories, and calling out Rocky in front Mickey, Rocky’s manager.

Just as the first film, Rocky III parallels where Stallone was in his life at the time. In this film, Rocky is caught up in his fame and fortune, and doesn’t take Clubber Lang seriously. In short, Rocky loses the belt to Lang, Mickey dies, and Apollo Creed offers to help Rocky train for a rematch. They go to L.A. to train, and Rocky wins the title back.

This movie takes a departure in tone of the first two movies. There’s more glitz and glam, and the fights are filmed more like an action movie than a drama. It’s also the only Rocky where we see the fight at the end in its entirety.

For the first time we see Rocky doubt himself, which is interesting. Unfortunately Stallone at this point wasn’t really an actor anymore. There’s a scene on the California beach where Adrian gets Rocky to snap out of his funk. Actress Talia Shire completely carries the scene through some really stiff dialogue.

For me personally Rocky III is noteworthy because it’s the first Rocky I’d ever seen. I watched it on HBO when I was little. In that part where Mr. T. taunts Rocky, he says Adrian should come to his apartment so she can see a real man. I remember not understanding what that meant, but my young brain presumed it had something to do with her seeing him naked. Before the first fight scene I remember telling my mom that Mr. T. was going to be all washed up. Then I was surprised of course when Mr. T. won. As the movie kept going and I realized they were going to have another fight, I assured my mother again that Mr. T. would be all washed up, and this time he was.

There’s a really great piece of music for the scene when Mickey died, and Rocky wanders around his old neighborhood (places from the first movie). In my Rocky Balboa post I’d mentioned how I went to Korea. I ended up staying there a lot longer than I planned. When I came back I remember wandering around my hometown, as well as the town I went to college in and other places, and I could hear that piece of music in my head. It was a real morose haunting kind of feeling.

Rocky III is certainly not a masterpiece in film, but it’s important to 1980’s culture in that it introduced the world to two classic 80‘s icons, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, along with his iconic catch phrase “I pity the fool.” Just a year later Mr. T. went on to star in the hit series the A. Team, and also had his own Saturday morning cartoon show and even his own breakfast cereal. Hogan of course went on to be a mega star in the world of professional wrestling. In fact, both Hogan and Mr. T. would headline the very first Wrestlemania in 1985. Rocky III also introduced the Rocky statue, and the song “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor, which is now synonymous with the franchise. All in all it’s a punched filled time capsule of 80’s awesomeness.

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Now that Creed, the Rocky spinoff, has hit $100 million at the box office, I’m sure it will get a sequel or two. I’d be happy to see more Creed movies, and it got me thinking about what else they could spin off out of the Rocky franchise. Here are some of my ideas.

1. Ivan Drago.

My favorite idea for a Rocky spinoff is a feature film about Ivan Drago. I’ve always wondered what happened to him after Rocky beat him. The Soviet government propped him up as their hero, so what did they do after the fight? Did Drago get sent off to prison in Siberia as punishment for losing? Did his wife leave him? What happened to him after the Soviet Union collapsed? Did he ever have any health effects from the Soviets juicing him up? Does he ever box again? There’s a real intriguing story to be told here, and with the international box office growing more important to Hollywood, I think a Drago film could work. Years ago there was a Rocky Legends video game where you could actually play a Drago story mode that told some of his story before the events of Rocky IV, and I heard there’s some Rocky book that says he kept boxing after Rocky IV. These secondary sources usually don’t count once new movies come out (See the Star Wars expanded universe). I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. A Drago movie with flashbacks of his younger days and showing his life after Rocky would be very intriguing.

2. Clubber Lang

Rocky III and Rocky IV are almost the same movie if you think about it. I don’t think a Clubber Lang movie would be as interesting as a Drago movie, but they could both be like stories of redemption. The thing is in my mind I don’t imagine Clubber boxing anymore after Rocky III. So I don’t think a movie would work. Maybe a TV movie, where he falls on hard times, maybe goes to jail, (The same Rocky video game I mentioned before has a Lang story mode that opens with him in jail). Maybe we could have some boxing/fighting scenes in jail, then he finds god and seeks redemption. In Rocky III he harasses Adrian. Maybe this story ends with him apologizing to Rocky and Adrian, and with him praying with Adrian at her bedside as she’s dying of cancer (With possibly Mr. T himself playing an older Lang). That’s a TV movie I’d watch.

3. Tommy Gunn

Rocky V is everyone’s least favorite Rocky movie, this is true even for Stallone himself. The subsequent two Rocky films do just about nothing to acknowledge it even existed. Hence I don’t imagine Tommy “The Machine” Gunn will ever be on film again. However a comic book or even a novel could tell the Tyson-esque story of him and his corrupt promoter in the 1990s world of boxing (Maybe he fights Drago, or hell even Lang).

4. Mickey

For years I’ve said I always wanted to see a movie about a young Mickey, Rocky’s manager. The thing is this story absolutely has to be tragic and horrible. Mickey wasn’t famous or well known to the general public before he managed Rocky. He was a bitter broken down old man. He must have had a little success I guess if he ran a gym, but still. Given the nature of movies I don’t imagine them going this route, but given how beautifully violent and dark Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones shows were, I think a Mickey Netflix show is the way to go.

The Netflix show could be set in the 1930’s during the depression, in all it’s sad and brutal glory. We could see that fight where his opponent put a nail in the thumb of his boxing glove and Mickey gets holes poked in his cheeks. He could have some girl but she dies tragically (Evidently he never had children). You can’t have anything work out for this guy. If the show was successful  it could eventually bring him up to how he opened his gym. Maybe he manages some other guy but the guy doesn’t listen to him and he never succeeds, or maybe he ditches Mickey and has success. I’m a little leary  of this last part, but we could even see why he never bothers with a young Rocky Balboa when he first comes to his gym in the early 70s.

This leads me to my least favorite pick for a Rocky spinoff, but the one I think would be the most likely to happen.

5. A young Rocky Balboa TV show.

Rocky’s story begins with his Cinderella shot to fight Apollo Creed. There’s little to nothing of his story to tell before that. If they really wanted to they could tell the story of how he first met Pauli and Adrian. They could also show how Mickey dismissed him, but I think that story would better be told in a Mickey Netflix show. In my opinion this is too close to the events of the first film to have any real meaning, but given it’s the lead character of the franchise I can see them trying this someday.

Well, here’s to a Drago movie and a Mickey Netflix show.

What do you think? What would you like to see?