Over the years, Rocky has become Philadelphia’s signature film, with Rocky himself even becoming the heroic icon for many Philadelphians. When the film starts, Rocky lives alone in squalor, and seems to have no future. We consistently see drunks, bums, and poor idlers who line the streets of his rundown Philadelphia neighborhood. Despite these circumstances, we are meant to see that Rocky, who may be a bum, is a bum with heart. He is challenged by Apollo Creed on the basis that he is easily beatable, yet Rocky trains to win. Rocky expresses worry that by doing so, he is deceiving himself, but he comes to the conclusion that he has worth to prove: He can go the distance. During the fight, Rocky even manages to knock down the champion several times. Although Rocky may not have officially “won” he won personally, as he proved his worth: He let everyone know that he is not “just another bum from the neighborhood.”
The story of Rocky strikes a chord with many Philadelphians, as the city’s population reflects the blue collar ethnic narrative of the film’s protagonist. Philadelphians can feel as though Rocky is telling their own story, but culminating in a miraculous end, proving that the dream is possible. Sylvester Stallone commented on this matter when discussing the overwhelming audience response to the film, as he stated “when they’re cheering for Rocky, they’re cheering for themselves.” As Philadelphians, Rocky is one of us: he is apart of our brotherhood. We cheer Rocky, boo Creed, and at the end of the film, we may even have tears in our eyes as Rocky proves that we have merit worth fighting for.
Below is a video clip used during credits of the latest Rocky film: Rocky Balboa. It shows numerous people imitating Rocky’s trek up the steps of the Art Museum, and celebrating as they reach the top, symbolizing how Rocky inspires us to push ourselves and prove our worth as Philadelphians.