By: Amanda Guarragi
The Rocky franchise has delivered on all fronts over the years. The franchise has always had a heart and changed the perspective of masculinity in sports. It turned boxing from what seemed like a violent act to a form of control and discipline in the ring. More importantly, to get into the ring, you must know what you’re fighting for, which has always been parallel to Rocky’s relationships throughout the franchise. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has had eight films to develop a legendary character and bring forth Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) as a new heavyweight addition to the franchise. In Creed 3, Michael B. Jordan flies solo without Stallone by his side as his directorial debut explores Creed as a veteran and a seasoned fighter.
After two films of Adonis trying to find his place in the boxing world with his father’s legacy tied to him, he finally breaks free from the past with Balboa to work through the skeletons in his closet. Before finding a loving home with his mother, Mary-Anne (Phylicia Rashad), Adonis grew up in a group home with an abusive environment. Luckily, he found an older brother Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), and they became dependent on each other. The one thing that fuelled them was their anger due to their mistreatment. Unfortunately, Adonis did move forward because of his mother, whereas Damian was stuck in his past. His anger and pain manifested into something worse. After Damian comes back into Adonis’ life, Adonis hides the truth from Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and the more he repressed his memories, the more his anger bubbles to the surface.
Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut is nothing short of incredible. Not only did he guide Adonis through one of his most challenging journeys yet, but he also created a strong family dynamic between Bianca (Tessa Thompson), Adonis and their young daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). The family unit almost plays out like a team, and Adonis realizes that his decisions as a boxer cannot bleed into how he educates his daughter. The deaf representation in this film was integrated so beautifully that it created such emotional moments between them all. The performances in this film were great, but Majors stole the spotlight and commanded the screen. Jordan and Majors had such a perfect dynamic that they would feed off of each other. Lastly, Jordan went with an anime-inspired direction in the ring, which made this third instalment special. The cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau and the editing by Jessica Baclesse and Tyler Nelson made those matches intense and fun to watch.
Creed 3 is a powerful directorial debut for Michael B. Jordan because he used what he learned from previous instalments and reworked it to include aspects important to him. It was the right time for Jordan to tackle working behind the camera, and he took some big swings. The story is a bit weaker than the previous two films, but the performances make it stronger. The third instalment closes Adonis’ arc, and despite his past, he made such a beautiful life for himself and will continue to do that for his daughter. It explores the bond of brotherhood and how children mature faster during difficult times, which affects them later in life. This film shows that your past doesn’t define you, but your decisions will clear a path meant to work in your favour. Just like Jordan – who has tirelessly worked his way to the top – Adonis has made his legacy that his father, and Rocky, would be proud of.