Five years after getting molly-whopped in the boxing ring in Creed II, Michael B. Jordan is back for yet another ass-whooping as tough-as-nails boxing champion Adonis Creed. You think you’re on his side — how could you not root for People Magazine’s 2020 Sexiest Man of the Year? — but Adonis’ next opponent will have you questioning your loyalties and possibly even rooting for the antagonist (The Harder They Fall’s Jonathan Majors, looking finer than frog hairs). This is Creed III.
The Creed films, spinoffs of the iconic Rocky boxing franchise starring Sylvester Stallone, follow the career highs and lows of Adonis Creed (Jordan). With the blood of the sports hero Apollo Creed (played in the OG films by Carl Weathers) flowing through his veins, Adonis begins a professional pursuit of boxing but is met with obstacle after obstacle as he tries to prove his worth to an industry full of naysayers. (Nepotism can’t protect you in the ring.) Years later, Adonis has finally established himself in the sport; in addition to fostering a healthy, loving family with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson), he’s also built a boxing empire from the ground up, complete with his own gym for upstarts just looking for a chance. Unfortunately, a mysterious person from his past suddenly reappears, threatening to shake things up: Damien Anderson (Majors). Yikes.
Adonis and Damian’s connection is…complicated. They were the best of friends as children, but while Adonis found his way in the ring, Damian landed behind bars for the majority of his young adult life. Now that he’s out, he’s got a chip on his shoulder with the boxing superstar’s name on it, and despite Adonis’ efforts to smooth over the bad blood between them, things are going to get violent. As the star athlete takes on his friend-turned-foe, he grapples with the physical toll of their rivalry as well as the deep-rooted guilt and imposter syndrome that Damian’s reappearance sparks in his heart. Has Adonis finally met his match?
In an exclusive press conference prior to the trailer’s worldwide release, Jordan discussed the many detailed nuances of the franchise’s third film, from its star-studded soundtrack to the fascinating development of its character. Creed III will mark the actor’s directorial debut, and during the press conference, he shared that the experience was nothing like he’d ever done before in his long career.
“I've been blessed to work with a lot of incredible directors and have a lot of guidance and mentors and people that I look up to and inspire to kind of be on that storytelling level,” said Jordan. “And I've been quietly watching and putting together these decks and folders and things that I want to try for quite some time now. So I was just kind of waiting for the right opportunity to step up and get behind the camera. [Creed III] was the one for me.”
“It was the most challenging thing that I've ever done so far, by far,” he continued. “It was low-key torture, but at the same time, there’s so much fun in the challenge of accomplishing it all — multitasking, developing the story, trying to stay in shape, giving all the departments what they individually need to kind of go do their job and and and then, you know, having my process as a director. It's really hard to put into words, but every day was a struggle.”
Still, working with such a talented cast made being in the director’s seat a much easier process; in addition to familiar co-stars Thompson, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashad, and Florian Muntuneau, Jordan was joined by fellow heartthrob Majors on the set of the sports drama. The two have a lot in common — the internet is obsessed with both of them, and they both are key parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and their shared passion for the storyline developed by Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin allowed them to really get into their physically and mentally challenging roles as adversaries.
“I'm very, very blessed and lucky to have him be a part of this story,” Jordan said of Majors. “For me, as a director, just to have that running mate and that partner made all the difference in the world. I think he's extremely talented — the world is finding out daily how incredible this man is, and the work that he does is finally getting the props that it's due. Jonathan was incredible. He showed up every day ready to go to war, ready to work. You know, me and him bonded in a way that I never had an opportunity to. I guess it's my first time directing that relationship between director and actor I really like, but I understand that now, and it's a bond that lasts forever. So I was just really lucky to have that gentleman by my side.”
If you’re a fan of fine men brawling — sports! I mean sports! — you probably already love Creed movies, and the latest instalment in the franchise will only make you an even bigger fan of this story. And as for whose side you’re on in the vicious, emotional matchup between Adonis and Damian? I’d say there are no losers in this fight. Not for us, anyway.
Watch Creed III when it hits cinemas next year, March 3, 2023.