Creed I and Creed II will forever get labeled as Rocky spin-offs. While nothing is necessarily wrong with that label, the main character of Adonis Creed deserves to stand on his own, out of the shadow of Rocky. Well, the beloved character gets that opportunity with this third installment of the spin-off series. Though I preferred an explanation for the complete absence of the Rocky character, the protagonist’s story, and character have earned it enough steam to launch ahead. It is time for the character to leave the nest and make a name for himself.

Since the events of Creed II, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has had a successful career in boxing as the world’s n heavyweight champion. However, as he ages and the hazards of his career take a toll, Adonis decides to retire while still on top. This choice makes perfect sense for the fighter and his loving wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson). He has nothing to prove, and he would better care for his wife, who continues to suffer a worsening hearing loss, and their young and deaf daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) by no longer putting his life on the line.

So, the next logical step in his career is to become a boxing promoter who supports and boosts the careers of young and hungry new boxers. This new direction for Adonis gets derailed when an old friend from his darker past resurfaces. Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors), a somewhat older but, at one time, a close, personal friend from Donnie’s childhood, seeks out Creed after getting released from prison. Anderson turns to Creed to help launch his professional boxing career, but Donnie soon realizes that it might not help that he seeks, but it might be vengeance that he craves. As Dame ended up taking the fall for a crime Donnie committed when they were kids, he was the one who went to jail.

Written by Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler, and Zach Baylin and directed by Michael B. Jordan, Creed III is finally the sequel that Ryan Coogler’s first installment truly deserves. That is not to say that I did not like Creed II, but at the same time, the second chapter of the franchise came across more like a Rocky knock-off/rehash. The movie relies way too much on a weaker installment of the Rocky franchise (Rocky IV). What I love about Creed III is that it promises to enrich the story of Adonis Creed without relying on the Rocky movies, and it delivers!

Now, does the movie have its corny moments? Oh, yes! Does it sometimes play out like a Rocky movie? Of course! However, the strength of this film relies on the development of Adonis Creed’s previously untold backstory, as well as the story of Dame Anderson. The conception of the Damian Anderson character is most definitely inspired by the true stories of Black Americans, who have made costly choices and have paid the price for their crimes, but undoubtedly doubly so due to the color of their skin. The movie does a solid job of examining this character, not just as a so-called villain but also as someone who needs some payback for the past.

I could keep delving into this subject further, but revealing any more of the story would spoil the experience. So, let’s talk about Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut! Much kudos to the actor-turned-filmmaker for bringing some excitement to a franchise that could have dipped even lower in quality. Michael B. Jordan is an anime fan and wants to include some of that hyper-stylized look in the movie. While he never overdoes it, Jordan does an exceptional job of conceiving and executing some visually exciting moments, particularly in the climactic fight sequence. In the first two Creed movies, the filmmakers wanted to make everything feel grounded in reality, and I am not saying that Jordan doesn’t do the same. However, in the final fight, Jordan does some wonderfully exciting things cinematically.

I don’t know what is coming next for the Creed franchise, but I have much hope for it. As long as people love this world and its characters and develop it further, there’s no telling what kind of magic to expect next time. See Creed III in a theater! Michael B. Jordan used IMAX cameras for some of the scenes. Though I did not see the movie in this format, I can guarantee it will look fantastic. And I’d be remiss if I did not mention the incredible performance of Jonathan Majors. I recently watched Majors perform Shakespeare as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Majors brings the streets when it comes to his realization as Dame Anderson.

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