Movie Review: Creed III

It is hardly surprising that Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky Balboa has been the focal point of the Rocky series for almost half a century. Rocky continued to play a significant role in this series even after it was relaunched to focus on Adonis Creed (played by Michael B. Jordan), the son of Apollo Creed, in the film Creed, which was directed by Ryan Coogler and released in 2015.

Although Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky made perfect sense in Creed, which earned Stallone his first acting Oscar nomination in nearly forty years, by the time Creed II rolled around, it was abundantly clear that his continued appearance in the series was more of a distraction from Creed’s story than it was a benefit. This was the case after eight installments with Stallone.

Creed III Trailer


Yet in Creed III, the tale of the titular character finally goes beyond Rocky, allowing Creed to take the limelight entirely on his own and providing Jordan with the opportunity to make his directorial debut. Creed III was written by Jordan and directed by Steven Caple Jr. Creed III becomes an intriguing exploration of how events in the past and the present may have an impact on the future. When this is taken into consideration, it is even more surprising that Rocky is not even alluded to once in the film.

But as Creed III delves into the past of young Adonis Creed, before we had ever met him in Creed, Jordan, in his role as director, is modernizing this series for a new generation by tinkering with what this franchise can be, experimenting, and breaking from the norms, all while maintaining the essential framework of these films. Even more so than what Coogler did with this series, Jordan is a breath of fresh air for the Rocky/Creed world. He is a thrilling illustration of the promise that is still in this series even after nine films have been released.


In the first scene of Creed III, which takes place in 2002, we see young Adonis (played by Alex Henderson) and his friendship with Damian “Dame” Anderson (Spence Moore II), a young Golden Gloves champion with nothing but potential in front of him. This takes place before we met Adonis in the opening moments of the first Creed film. During these formative years, Adonis was a staunch supporter of his close buddy Dame, who at the time was a promising young boxer known for his lightning-fast knockouts.

The two men appear to make an excellent pair, with Adonis being in a position to offer sound guidance to his outstanding boxing companion. But, following one of Adonis’ victories, he got into a battle with another man outside of a convenience shop, and when Dame pulled a pistol on them, it ended the fight and sent both of them away.

Adonis is now the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, has retired at the top of his game, married the rock star Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson), and the pair have a kid named Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). Adonis is also helping to mentor the next generation of great boxers alongside Little Duke (Wood Harris) at the Delphi Gym.

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Cut to the present day and Adonis has become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, retired at Around this time, Dame, played by Jonathan Majors, has recently been released from jail, and he goes looking for an old buddy of his who has been successful in life. Dame claims that his goals have not changed despite the passage of time and that he is still driven by the desire to become a world-famous fighter.

Creed travels with his friend to Delphi, where he is able to get a position as a sparring partner for Felix Chavez, the reigning champion (Jose Benavidez). While Creed is trying to convince Dame that he would have to be patient in order to achieve his goals, Dame has been incarcerated for close to twenty years, and the last thing he wants to do is waste time. If Apollo Creed was willing to gamble on an underdog, there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing, Dame tells Creed.

Dame has wanted to live that life of success and glory, the life he was on the route to before he was locked up, as he has seen his old buddy become the champion of the world. Dame has watched his old friend become the champion of the world. Throughout the time when Creed is working to assist his buddy in reaching his objectives, Dame is much more focused on finding a shortcut to finally achieve all of his ambitions.

More than any other Rocky or Creed movie before it, Creed III takes its time to let us get to know the upcoming adversary. It does this by having us sympathize with Dame’s situation and his frustrations with how Adonis largely forgot his friend, while also showing us that Creed wasn’t entirely innocent in creating what Dame would become. Creed III was directed by Steven Caple Jr. and stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tess Creed III makes this conflict a deeply personal battle between two men who were once like brothers, and the screenplay was written by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin (with a story written by Coogler, Baylin, and Ryan Coogler) explores the gray in both of these men’s stories. Creed III is directed by Ryan Coogler and is produced by Warner Bros.

Creed III is not a narrative about boxing; rather, it is a story about family, including the families that we are born into as well as the families that we find along the road, as well as the sacrifices that we make for the people that we love. This time around, Jordan ensures that every member of the family has their day in the spotlight, therefore continuing to develop this universe and giving these people agency.


Although while she puts on a grin and claims that she likes creating just as much, it is obvious that this decision has caused Bianca a great deal of suffering. She has given up live performing in order to help maintain what little hearing she still has. Amara, the daughter of Bianca and Creed, is being bullied at her school. Adonis tries to teach her how to protect herself by showing her that boxing is not about violence; rather, it is about time, control, and focus. Creed and Bianca have a complicated relationship.

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Even Adonis’ mother Mary, played by Phylicia Rashad, has some really poignant scenes. In these, she grapples with the dilemma of trying to keep Dame’s letters to Adonis a secret after all of these years, as well as the anxiety of losing Adonis after having already lost his father.

Yet even at the gym, this emphasis on family is apparent, as Adonis has helped nurture a bunch of prospective champions and has even become good friends with Viktor Drago. This is a testament to Adonis’s dedication to his family (Florian Munteanu). Yet, it is the love and history between Adonis and Dame that makes this story so compelling, and the script that was written by Coogler and Baylin makes sure to spend as much time as possible with this duo.

This is a necessary build for when these two will eventually have to find each other in the ring. There has never been any Rocky or Creed movie that has spent this much time or effort creating the relationship between the boxers in quite this way, and the result is formidable. As a consequence, this movie is about more than simply pride, glory, or power. In the end, Creed III is extremely emotional and delves into the feelings of these characters in a manner that the other installments in this series have never even attempted.

The portrayal that Majors gives in Creed III, which makes him one of the most compelling adversaries in the history of this franchise, is a significant contributor to the success of the film. Majors is fantastic at playing parts like this one, which is manly and proud in their own way, but at the same time are really sensitive and emotional. It’s not unreasonable for Dame to be angry, and we can empathize with his feelings given the circumstances.

It is also difficult not to like what Majors are doing here, beginning out as the long-lost brother in a sense to Adonis, then slowly displaying his actual character, as that initial half of himself seeps deeper and farther down. This is something that is impossible not to enjoy. Even when he’s being the douchiest version of himself, it’s hard not to sort of root for Dame, and between his performance as Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and in the unnerving Sundance film Magazine Dreams, this is certainly going to be the year of Majors. Majors will be the ones to watch in 2019.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that Creed III focuses mostly on the protagonist’s family and places them at the heart of the narrative, Jordan still manages to leave his directorial mark on the film. Jordan makes sure that we get the sense that boxing is about timing, control, and attention while we watch these boxers go at it by making sure that he relays this information to his daughter.

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The action throughout the fights is slowed down by Jordan, demonstrating the split-second decisions a boxer needs to make, the subtle cues that might assist a boxer to win a fight, and the incredible strength and might that comes into play during these bouts. Jordan has stated that he was influenced by anime in the creation of this film, and that influence can surely be felt in the way that he shoots these fights, the way that these fighters move, and the way that Jordan adjusts the viewpoint in jaw-dropping ways.

Jordan is aware that many of us have been viewing these movies for close to half a century, but he still manages to surprise us with something completely original. For instance, during Dame’s first bout, we witness the boxer experimenting with various angles and attempting novel hits that appear odd, but are flawlessly placed.

This is because he is playing a longer game than simply one round at a time. Dame is a former world champion. It’s such a subtle change, yet it has a significant effect on the audience, who realizes very soon that Jordan isn’t going to give us the same old battles that we’re used to seeing. This has a major impact.


This is especially true during the battle that serves as the film’s climax, in which Jordan entirely tosses aside the Rocky and Creed rule book and does something that is really experimental in a manner that the Rocky and Creed franchise has never been before. Personally, I thought it was a brilliant way to try something new within this series, and an opportunity for Jordan to put his mark on this brand in a way that feels like he is leading this world into a new era.

The final fight will absolutely be a litmus test for longtime fans of this series who will likely flinch at the new way Jordan frames this fight. This fight also delves into these two boxers’ long history with each other. Again, Jordan doesn’t let herself feel constrained by what the past has dictated this series has to be; rather, she embraces the possibilities of what this series could be and where it could go.

Creed III celebrates the achievements of the past while also looking ahead to the possibilities of the future. Michael B. Jordan, in both his acting and directing capacities, is given the limelight in a way that highlights his extraordinary skills. With excellent performances by Jordan, Rashad, and Majors, amongst others, and by trying new things in this series that is often known for its formulaic nature, Creed III is a breath of fresh air.

This is achieved by putting the priority directly on the family and diving into those dynamics for the majority of the film. In Creed III, Adonis may be trying to avoid the past, but Jordan is taking everything he has learned from what has come before and moved this franchise into a completely new generation. He is also expanding this universe in a way that makes it feel like it is being introduced for the first time.