The air vibrates with excitement as the lights in the stadium go out and the fog machines come on. Firecrackers burst into the darkness, writing the name of the world boxing champion in the night sky: Creed. His audience expects him to make a grand entrance, both inside and outside the ring. Those are the rules of the game, and Adonis “Donny” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) knows them like no other. He has achieved everything.
But can this one Movie be from the “Rocky” film series, fueled by her legendary heart for the underdogs? How does that fit into a saga where fame and dominance in the ring could never last? Sylvester Stallone created the formula for overcoming all resistance almost fifty years ago, he wrote “Rocky” Balboa himself, six times in a row, and despite fame and success and victories, he always had to face failure – otherwise Rocky would be not been Rocky.
According to this logic, Rocky’s protégé Adonis Creed is now in danger because he himself has long since achieved everything – also symbolized by the fact that his mentor Rocky – and thus Sylvester Stallone – is no longer participating for the first time. In “Creed III – Rocky’s Legacy” Adonis enjoys world fame, has a successful wife in the music business, a daughter together and a house in the Hollywood Hills. His traumata, the death of his father and his childhood in nursing homes and youth prisons, seem to have been overcome. What now?
Now one day there is someone in the parking lot who was less fortunate than him. After half a lifetime, Donny’s former best friend Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) has been released from prison. In their youth together, he was considered the upcoming champion, not Donny – who rather carried the boxing gloves behind him. Now Damian is asking the beaming world champion to become his coach. He wants to catch up on everything that was denied to him.
The new fighter does not dream the innocent dream of the “Rocky” saga
Has a new underdog been found, hungry like never before, will the baton be passed on again? Not so hasty – that would also underestimate Ryan Coogler, who has taken over the role of narrator from Stallone since the “Creed” films. His characters are never simple and one-dimensional, as seen in his award-winning drama Next Stop: Fruitvale Station, as well as his two Black Panther films, he brings style, relevance and cool to the Marvel Universe has.
Because Damian doesn’t just dream the innocent dream of the “Rocky” saga, to overcome all hardships, to box his way to the top out of deepest humiliation. Deep down, his motives are far more sinister – he wants revenge above all, he wants justice, and he wants to destroy the life of the man who was so much luckier than he was. The fighting motifs in the film series have never been so dark and deceptive. Being attacked in this way, the self-satisfied world champion has to gather all his strength again – for a final showdown, a brother fight.
Ryan Coogler didn’t direct that himself anymore, he basically just delivered the story, left the script to his brother Keenan and the direction to the leading actor Michael B. Jordan, who is making his debut behind the camera. You can tell that a little bit from the crowded plot, the story is unnecessarily complex and occasionally digresses to side scenes. The fact that she still has a focus is mainly thanks to Jonathan Majors as Damian. Majors is on a roll, having starred in blaxploitation western The Harder They Fall and Spike Lee’s Vietnam drama Da 5 Bloods, and starring as new supervillain Kang from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania he has big upcoming tasks at Marvel.
As Damian, Majors literally crackles with self-righteousness, sadness and anger, his brute, unpredictable violence shatters the superficiality of the sports spectacle about Creed. But there’s more – a smug sideways glance here, a defiant nod there, indicate he’s a showman too, even eclipsing leading man Michael B. Jordan at times. That makes Damian one of the best, because most complex, adversaries in the “Rocky” universe, who even undermines a previously untouched premise of the film series: the moral clarity with which the title hero should win the hearts of his audience.
Creed III: Rocky’s Legacy, USA, 2022 – Director: Michael B Jordan. Book: Keenan Coogler, Zach Baylin. Camera: Kramer Morgenthau. Starring: Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad. Warner Bros. Pictures, 116 minutes. Theatrical release: March 2, 2023.