For the star, the Rocky movies are character dramas first and boxing movies a distant second. What's interesting about the sequels is the way Rocky's journey typically mirrors Stallone's career at the time they were produced. Rocky II sees the character struggling to find his place following his Apollo fight, so he agrees to a rematch - in the same way Stallone agreed to a sequel after struggling to make another hit. Rocky III charts how success changed him, and skipping ahead, Rocky Balboa saw the boxer making a comeback after everyone believed he was done, just like Stallone's own career had waned in the years before the 2006 sequel.
Even the Creed spin-offs saw Stallone's boxer moving into more of a mentor role to a younger star. Stallone is typically honest in interviews about which of his movies worked and the ones that really didn't. Stallone has many movie regrets like Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot or Rhinestone, while he believes First Blood is his best action movie. When it comes to his favorite Rocky movies, he believes the first entry and Rocky Balboa are the best.
While participating in a fan Q&A on his Instagram, he was asked what his best movie was. He responded that "My best movie probably of course is Rocky," and quickly followed with "The one I'm most proud of is Rocky Balboa because no one wanted to make it." Stallone's first choice is little surprise given that Rocky is recognized as a classic, but he's always spoken of his fondness for Rocky Balboa and the struggle getting it made. The star's career faltered in the late '90s due to duds like Judge Dredd and Daylight, and by the early 2000s, his films like Avenging Angelo were going straight to video.
With Rocky Balboa - which killed off Adrian - he wanted to both redeem the series following the poor reception of 1990's Rocky V while using the sequel to comment on his own career and feelings about growing older. Rocky Balboa was turned down by most studios but was eventually given a greenlight with a modest budget. Not only did it receive strong reviews, but it also gave Stallone's career a shot in the arm. The Rocky sequel is arguably Stallone's most personal film, so it's clear why it's one of his favorites.