'Creed' changed the game in more ways than one. It not only cemented Ryan Coogler as one of Hollywood's best new directors, but projected Michael B. Jordan as one of the finest new actors. It also remains as the only "legacy sequel" to match the original film - and in some ways succeed - in capitalising on, in this case, 'Rocky'. 'Creed' is a masterclass of cinema and remains, for me, one of the best films of the 21st century. The legacy that surrounds the 'Rocky' franchise for almost 50 years, with nine films and a Broadway musical (bet you forgot about that one) is hard to match. 'Creed II' managed to keep it going, but with 'Creed III' being the first film to not to feature Sylvester Stallone (here only producing) as well as seeing Michael B. Jordan directing for the first time, will it live up to the previous two entries, or will it follow 'Rocky III' and start to take the franchise in campy direction?
Adonis Creed (Jordan, 'Black Panther', 'Just Mercy') has now retired from boxing but remains a celebrity. He has stepped away to spend more time with his wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson, 'Thor: Ragnarok', 'Men in Black: International'), who has also stepped away from her music career to focus more on producing due to her hearing loss and daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), who is completely deaf. When a figure from his past is released from prison, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors, 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania', 'The Harder They Fall'), who wants to fight for the 18 years he lost behind bars, the only way to settle their past might mean Adonis has to step back into the ring.
'Creed III' is another fantastic line-up to the franchise, removing Rocky from the picture, and while he is missed, it allows us to focus more on Adonis. Now that he has built his legacy made his own place separate from his dads, what does he do with that, who is Donnie now that he has proved himself? We get to spend more time looking at his relationship with Bianca and the challenges they face with both life post-boxing and having a daughter who is deaf. The film beautifully handles this, with a lot of scenes entirely in ASL. This extends to his mum, Mary-Anne, who is also dealing with her own set of problems. Phylicia Rashad ('tick, tick...BOOM!', 'Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey') doesn't get enough credit for her work in these three films; she more than anyone is the heart of them. Her performance is so emotionally impactful in each entry, and this is no exception.
While especially for a franchise with nine films, we know the beats - especially in fight sequences - but 'Creed III' more than the 'Rocky' sequels has really compelling and new reasons to get to that finale fight. Aided by Jonathan Majors' absolutely stellar performance, the backstory they give to Donnie and Dame's past really makes this feel new and fresh. In terms of antagonists, he is easily the franchise's best since Drago, and in terms of fear and strength he is truly a beast for Creed to take on, both menacing and frightful. Outside of the first film, with the opening scene of Mary-Anne picking up Adonis from the youth detention centre, we don't know much about his childhood and the film really warrants its existence. After Creed v Drago, it felt there wasn't any other direction the franchise could go because that is such a peak, but 'Creed III' really proves itself by breaking away from its 'Rocky' roots and taking the franchise into new directions. Even in the final fight, we see it take some really new and fresh directions, visually standing out from the rest.
The backstory they give to Donnie and Dame's past really makes this feel new and fresh.
For the first time, Michael B. Jordan steps into the director's ring and once again he proves what a talent he is. I was really impressed with how well he did, especially playing the lead but he knocks it out of the park and I hope we see more of him behind the camera as he could become someone to watch in that arena.
'Creed III' continues not only the 'Rocky' legacy but cements the 'Creed' franchise as a new juggernaut that can continue with its new characters. It features a knockout performance by Majors, with Jordan proving his talents once again in front of the camera and showing how well he can do behind the camera as well.