Everything We Know

Everything We Know About Creed III

Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson are joined by Jonathan Majors for the next chapter in the life of Adonis Creed, but where's Rocky? We break it all down.

by | February 22, 2023 | Comments


If Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has taken anything from the life of his mentor, Rocky Balboa, it’s that there is always a tougher opponent around the corner just waiting for their chance to dethrone the champ. After finding out his true parentage and proving himself worthy of his name in the first Rocky franchise spin-off Creed (2015) , Adonis then came face-to-face with the hulking son of the man who killed his father in the ring – Ivan Drago from Rocky IV (1985) – in 2018’s Creed II. Unfortunately, “happily ever after” doesn’t exist in this world, and Adonis is once again called upon to step into the ring and put everything on the line for Creed III.

Starring franchise newcomer Jonathan Majors (who has also just been introduced as the MCU’s next Thanos-level threat, Kang the Conqueror, in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) alongside returning stars Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, and Wood Harris, Creed III looks to up the ante in terms of emotional blows that hit has hard as the physical ones (which is saying something – have you seen how jacked Majors is?). Here’s what we know so far about the movie, hitting theaters March 3, 2023.

Creed III Continues the Theme of Battling One’s Past

Jonathan Majors and Michael B. Jordan in Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Eli Ade/©MGM)

The first two Creed movies were built around the intertwined pasts of Adonis and Rocky – the specter of Apollo’s death that haunts them both, the return of Ivan Drago, and the cycle of revenge it kicks off. But this time around, Adonis will be forced to confront his own demons. Jonathan Majors plays Damian Anderson, a childhood friend of Adonis’ (back when he went by “Adonis Johnson”) with his own boxing dreams who ends up spending a large chunk of his young adult life in prison. Now out, he feels cheated out of the life he should have had, and aims to take what he believes he’s owed from Adonis by any means necessary.

Rocky Won’t Be in Donnie’s Corner This Time Around

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed II (2018)

(Photo by Barry Wetcher/©MGM)

Although the character managed to survive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Creed II, we know that Rocky won’t be ringside for Adonis in Creed III. The reason? Sylvester Stallone’s not-so-subtle issues with longtime Rocky producer Irwin Winkler. According to Stallone, Winkler bought the rights to the character for a measly $100 back in 1976 (when a broke, struggling Stallone could hardly say no) and has retained complete ownership over the iconic boxer and his story ever since. When the idea of another spin-off – this one to focus on Ivan and Viktor Drago – was floated, Stallone took to Instagram to denounce the idea in no uncertain terms: “ONCE AGAIN , IRWIN WINKLER , this PATHETIC 94 year old PRODUCER and HIS MORONIC VULTURE CHILDREN, Charles And David , are once again picking clean THE BONES of another wonderful character I created without even telling me.” Stallone has clearly had enough, and refused to sign on for another Winkler-produced go-round.

Things Are Not Going to Be Cheerful for the Creed Family

Michael B. Jordan in Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Ser Baffo/©MGM)

So far, the Creed films have explored some dark themes – emotional abandonment, illness, abuse – but this one seems to have pushed the envelope so far that even Rocky himself had to throw in the towel. In addition to his distrust of Winkler and refusal to work with him again, Stallone told he Hollywood Reporter that the story of Creed III takes a turn that he just didn’t jive with. “It was taken in a direction that is quite different than I would’ve taken it. It’s a different philosophy — Irwin Winkler’s and Michael B. Jordan’s. I wish them well, but I’m much more of a sentimentalist. I like my heroes getting beat up, but I just don’t want them going into that dark space. I just feel people have enough darkness.” Does this mean family man Donnie will unleash the most violent and unmerciful side of himself in order to defeat Damian?

There Are Still a Lot of Familiar Faces

Michael B. Jordan, Mila Davis-Kent, and Tessa Thompson in Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Eli Ade/©MGM)

Although Stallone won’t be back, the rest of Team Creed will be. Tessa Thompson (Sorry to Bother You, Thor: Love and Thunder) reprises her role of Bianca, now a successful musician struggling with both her own hearing loss and the hearing impairment of her and Adonis’ daughter, Amara. Phylicia Rashad (A Raisin in the Sun, Soul) returns as Mary Anne Creed, wife of the late Apollo Creed and Adonis’ adopted mother, and Wood Harris (The Wire, Blade Runner 2049) is back as Tony “Little Duke” Burton, the son of Apollo’s former trainer who has been both at odds with Adonis and in his literal corner. There have been rumors that Florian Munteanu will reprise his role as Creed II nemesis Viktor Drago, but that’s likely for little more than a flashback.

Michael B. Jordan Makes His Directorial Debut

Michael B. Jordan and Jose Benavidez Jr. on the set of Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Eli Ade/©MGM)

It’s fitting that what will likely be the most personal chapter in Adonis’ life will be shepherded by Jordan himself. The actor steps into the director’s chair for the first time, picking up from Ryan Coogler (Creed, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II, the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts). According to Thompson, the extra workload didn’t adversely affect the lead couple’s considerable chemistry. “It was so interesting because I wondered what it would be like for Mike to have to be a scene partner and a director,” she told Collider. “But when we were doing the scene work, he felt entirely in it. We got back into those character dynamics very easily.”

Jordan’s Vision Includes a Part of Boxing History Frequently Ignored by Cinema

The cast of Creed III (2023)

(Photo by ©MGM)

In the trailer for Creed III, Adonis and his family are glimpsed briefly on a red carpet alongside Mexican boxing star “Canelo” Álvarez. A big part of Jordan’s vision for the third installment in this franchise (and the ninth in the Rocky universe) revolved around finally giving proper respect to Mexico’s long and distinguished history with the sport. During a press conference announcing Creed III going into production, Jordan said, “The Mexican culture is such a pillar within the sport of boxing and felt like there wasn’t really a lot of representation throughout the films in that type of way. And it just didn’t seem like the reality I lived in. So I wanted to incorporate Mexican culture into this film.”

Jordan’s Directorial Responsibilities Changed his Workout Regimen

Michael B. Jordan in Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Ser Baffo/©MGM)

Celebrity trainer Corey Calliet, who helped sculpt Jordan for the first two Creed films, switched gears to shorter, more impactful workouts in deference to the star’s suddenly much-more-jam-packed schedule. Speaking to Barbend, Calliet admitted that he needed Jordan “to be able to function as a director and as an actor at the same time.” They found they were able to make solid gains in less time, rather than the “long, grueling” workouts that Jordan endured for the first two films.

Majors, Meanwhile, Worked Damian’s Backstory into His Training

Jonathan Majors in Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Ser Baffo/©MGM)

Not content to simply “get ripped” to play Donnie’s nemesis, Majors sought out the “whys” behind his character’s physically intimidating appearance. Speaking to Men’s Health, Majors explained that “there are certain reasons you build your body. Dame’s body was built from loss. He had lost something, and that hole is what made him work the way he worked. When you see Dame’s body, you go, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ You don’t look like that and be happy with life.” Hey, at least he’s honest – who could be happy about 4am workouts and carb deprivation?

Into the Creed-verse

Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors in Creed III (2023)

(Photo by Eli Ade/©MGM)

Like something that sounds more in line with Majors’ Ant-Man role, Jordan told IGN that not only is Creed IV an almost-certainty, but this Rocky spin-off may spin-off a universe of its own. The actor/director is interested in not only continuing Donnie’s story, but also in branching off into additional story tangents. He doesn’t give any hints as to what these threads may be – is one of them the Drago family saga that ticked Sly off? – but we may get some hints once we learn what happens when Donnie and Dame finally go toe-to-toe.

Creed III opens in theaters on March 3, 2023.

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