Rocky Balboa first appeared on-screen in 1976. This year's Creed was written and directed by Ryan Coogler, who at 29 says that Rocky has been part of life as long as he can remember. "This franchise is something that was in my bones," he says. "Before I knew what a movie was I knew Rocky. I knew Rocky's story made my dad cry, and he was the toughest, strongest dude I knew. Our generation is crazy because we grew up with all this pop culture. Like, Star Wars isn't a movie to us. It's something else."

Ryan Coogler at the London Premiere of Creed

Meeting his idol was unforgettable, especially when he began telling him stories about making the previous six movies. "Sly would become so animated," Coogler says. "He'd pretend to be this person or that person. I thought, this dude is an off-the-charts actor! I felt a little bit like a coach gets when he sees a greatly talented player. I'm a Rocky fan, but this dude's talent level reminded me of spending time with Mike," he added, referring to actor Michael B. Jordan, with whom he also made his first acclaimed feature Fruitvale Station.

Coogler says it was important to give the film a millennial perspective. For example, Jordan's father Apollo Creed died before he was born, so all he knows about him is from clips on YouTube. "How crazy is it that you watch a fight from the 70s on a cell phone!" Coogler says. "But that's our reality, so we embraced the cell phone, computer-oriented lifestyle, the one that allows Tessa Thompson's musician character Bianca to record and produce music in her apartment. That's how it's done now. And then what happens when these characters bump up against Rocky, who's kind of stuck in the past."

Coogler and Jordan are already working on their third project together, a drama about a teacher caught in the notorious Atlanta test-cheating scandal. "Hopefully we keep working together" Coogler says. "It doesn't feel like work with Mike: it's just life and we're just two dudes. I felt that way with Sly and Tessa. With Mike, man, I hope it continues!"

Indeed, Coogler, Jodran, Stallone and Thompson are already talking about reuniting for a second Creed movie. But before that Coogler has landed the high-profile gig directing Marvel's Black Panther adventure starring Chadwick Boseman. 

Watch the trailer for Creed here: