“Creed III:” another knockout success from the “Rocky” franchise

Marissa Alejo, Online editor-in-chief and Media editor

Everyone loves an underdog. The “Rocky” franchise, with a boxer becoming the heavyweight champion, has been renowned for its portrayals of hope in the context of a dramatic sports movie. Now spanning eight movies with the inclusion of “Creed III,” its impact on popular culture cannot be denied. 

“Creed III” is the first movie of the franchise without an appearance from the original Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, but his absence did not take away from the movie at all. The connection to the iconic franchise is preserved, but “Creed” no longer relies on Rocky to be an interesting movie. “Creed III” feels like the passing of a torch, from one generation’s icon to the next.

“Creed” is the continuation of the series starring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed. Although Adonis never knew his father, he connects with his past boxing-rival-turned-friend, Rocky, to help him continue his father’s legacy of being a boxing champion.

“Creed III’’ picks up after Adonis has been retired for three years, now running a boxing gym and managing young fighters. He is married to Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson) and has a daughter, Amara Creed (Mila Davis-Kent).

One day, leaving his gym, Adonis sees someone from his past, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors). The movie does a good job of flashing back to 2000s Los Angeles, when the two were best friends and explaining their history. Damian startles Adonis with the sudden confrontation but the two agree to go out to eat. Here, Damian tells Adonis that he had just gotten out of prison and was looking to get back into boxing, the career he dreamed of as a teenager. Adonis agrees to help him and offers him a spot to train in his gym. 

After a dramatic turn of events, Damian is thrust into the spotlight similarly to the original “Creed” movie when Adonis, an unknown fighter at the time, defeated a prominent boxer. Paralleling Adonis’ story, Damian defeats the current heavyweight champion, Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez). Adonis and Damian do not leave the fight on good terms and after an aggressive confrontation, the two agree to battle it out in the ring. 

This storyline is laid out well and is relatively easy to follow, even with the time jump between the second movie, when Adonis is still fighting, and the third movie, once he has retired. 

Adonis’ retirement makes sense for his character and the choice to focus on the present, including flashbacks of Damian and Adonis’ relationship, works much better than attempting to explain the exposition through dialogue. Though the storyline was great, I felt that a few scenes were rushed and could have been explored deeper. It would have been nice to see more of the funeral service for Adonis’ adopted mother as she seemed to have a large impact on his life. 

“Creed III” has some of the best fight scenes of the Rocky franchise with the fight between Adonis and Damian earning many “oohs” from the theater. 

Overall “Creed III” excellently balances emotional storytelling with action-packed sports drama.