Creed III changes it up from the previous films in the franchise by trying to move the franchise from out of Rocky Balboa’s shadow.
At some point or another, the franchise needed to move out of Rocky’s shadow. With where Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is at in his life right now, Sylvester Stallone’s presence would probably distract from the action. The younger Creed is now in the position of mentor, much like Rocky was to him. Listen, nothing against Stallone but Creed is clearly Michael B. Jordan’s franchise now. Other parts of the story would probably take a backseat including Creed’s childhood past with boxing prodigy Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors). Now that Anderson is finally out of prison, he wants his shot at the heavyweight title. Easier said than done. He’s not your typical boxer and his violent side shows in the ring.
The former World Heavyweight Champion is enjoying retirement, life with wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). It turns out that the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to the next generation. Meanwhile, he is currently running the Delphi Academy with Tony “Little Duke” Burton (Wood Harris). Even before Anderson gets back into Creed’s life, all eyes are on Felix Chavez (José Benavidez). Chavez needs more sparring partners and that’s where Creed thinks that Anderson can fill a role. Obviously, we learn sooner than later that Anderson certainly wants something more.
The artwork and theater stands suggested a face-off at some point. Anderson is not your typical boxer and sooner than later, Creed finds himself in the familiar territory of being underdog. By setting up a friend as the main antagonist, it brings a bit of freshness to the franchise. Sports dramas more or less follow the same clichés so the question is what can you do that’s fresh and different. In this case, it’s bring in Anderson to try and change the status quo. It also helps us get into Creed’s head as he figures out what to do. You can probably do the math right now because they don’t call the film Anderson. In any event, the franchise finds solid footing ahead of a probably fourth film looming in the distance.
If you thought Creed was an origin story, Creed III comes around and throws a curveball. It’s the first film in the franchise that really starts to explore what his childhood was like and why he got to where he is today. And again, you could not make this film by having Rocky Balboa in it. Whether Sly wanted to or not, they needed to move away from his shadow. In any event, the film comes to a climax with the Battle for Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium,
There are a few themes that Creed III seeks to explore. Among them are kindness, toxic masculinity and forgiveness. We have two characters on opposing sides of the ring and both made different life decisions to get to this point. For better or worse, Creed’s mother, Mary-Anne (Phylicia Rashad), also plays a role into why we’re in this place right now. It’s not for me to decide whether or not her actions were right or wrong. Will Creed forgive her for doing what she did? You’ll just have to wait and see.
Creed III distances itself from Rocky‘s shadow and the film is all the better for it.
DIRECTOR: Michael B. Jordan
SCREENWRITERS: Keegan Coogler & Zach Baylin
CAST: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Mila Davis-Kent, Florian Munteanu, and Phylicia Rashad
MGM will release Creed III in theaters on March 3, 2023. Grade: 4/5
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