Spoilers for "Creed" follow!
"Creed" might exist in the same universe as "Rocky," but just as Adonis Creed Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) had to strike out on his own and create a new legacy for himself, so too does this latest movie in the series. One of the biggest ways it accomplishes this is by bringing the fight to Adonis early, in what's bound to be one of the most talked about scenes of the whole film.
In the original "Rocky" movie, you don't see Rocky Balboa truly face off against an opponent until the film's climatic finale, when he takes on Apollo Creed and manages to hold his own. But in "Creed," Adonis doesn't have Rocky's history as a fighter -- he's just starting out as a boxer and so needs to find a way to prove himself, and finds one in a match against Mickey's gym regular Leo "The Lion" Sporino.
What's most astonishing about Creed's first fight isn't that it's happening, but how it happens, at least for us as a movie-going audience. The scene is framed as one long continuous shot filmed from the center of the ring, and throughout the entire match the camera pans frantically from Adonis, to Rocky, to his opponent and his opponent's trainer, all while a screaming crowd full of boxing fans look on. Trust us, you'll probably flinch more than once as you watch every punch land in startling close-up.
"That's something we worked on for months," Michael B. Jordan admitted to MTV News, noting that the tracking shot really was filmed all in one take. "When [director] Ryan [Coogler] was first talking about it, we were trying to figure out ways to shoot the boxing scenes differently than any other fight film."
The scene definitely succeeds, and really gives you a palpable sense of all of the nervousness and adrenaline that Adonis must be feeling in that moment -- although some of that tension might just be from all the moves that the cast and crew had to nail while filming.
"That was a really ambitious shot and we only had eight takes to get it, and we got it around four or five," Jordan said. "I'm so proud of it, because we worked so hard on learning all that choreography with the camera guy. The nuance of it was pretty cool."
"Creed" is in theaters now.