Sylvester Stallone birthed something of a legacy on the back of his rags-to-riches boxing saga Rocky. Whilst it’s been more than a decade since Stallone hung up his gloves as his titular hero, the franchise birthed a new generation of the boxing epic in the form of Creed. The franchise chronicles the story of Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Rocky’s late best friend Apollo. The first two installments saw Stallone rehash his role as the retired legendary boxer who steps into a mentorship role for Donnie both in and out of the ring. Now, more than four years since the second installment landed in theaters, audiences are gearing up to see Donnie strap his gloves on again with a legacy of his own to create in Creed III.
Ahead of the film’s release, two fresh stills from the sports drama have been unveiled. In the first image, released by Total Film, a fully-kitted-up and fully chiseled Donnie takes center stage in the ring. Looking every bit ready for battle with red gloves and matching shorts that brandish his family name, Donnie furrows his brow as he seemingly fixates on his opponent. His there-is-so-much-more-on-the-line-than-a-title expression is notably similar to the one we’ve seen plastered across Rocky’s face countless times over the years. Meanwhile, in a second image, Donnie’s opponent Damian Andersen (Jonathan Majors) stands in his corner as he hangs his arms over the ring’s ropes. What is really interesting is that Damian appears much more conflicted and contemplative than his opponent. This is likely due to the deep-rooted history between the two characters, who are childhood friends. Clearly it’s not it’s all sunshine and rainbows for the pair as the film unpacks the story of Damian reaching out to a now very successful Donnie after leaving prison and it’s clear there is resentment there. With Damian feeling like Donnie is living the life he should’ve had and threatening to disrupt Donnie’s new life, there is more on the boxing card than just glory.
As well as Creed III marking a directorial debut for star Jordan, it’s also the first film from the spin-off saga which Stallone does not feature in. However, Jordan has assured that it very much carries Stallone‘s “essence” throughout. “I think it’s in the spirit of Rocky, whose fingerprints will always and forever be on this franchise,” he told Empire. “The essence of him is still there. But at the same time, the Creed franchise is moving in a strong direction.”
Rocky resonated heavily with viewers because it was very much a franchise about the fight that takes place outside of the ring everyday – life. The character’s popularity was bolstered by the fact that so much of Rocky was and still is Stallone through and through. If the previous two films are anything to go by its clear Creed is geared up to do exactly what Jordan has said. With themes of family, the harshness of life, and loyalty all sitting at the heart of it, at first glance, Creed III looks ready to rise to the challenge.
You can watch Michael B. Jordan return to the ring in Creed III in theaters in March 2023. You can watch view the images and watch the trailer below.