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With Hollywood always trying to revive established franchises and IPs it’s hard to think of a franchise that had a better reboot than the Rocky series did with Creed (2015). The first installment in the Rocky saga in nearly a decade since Rocky Balboa (2006), Creed is a masterful revitalization of the series from filmmaker Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), following the son of legacy fan-favorite Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) as he begins his own journey to become a professional boxer, with Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) himself passing the torch to the new hero before the entire world knows the name Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). The Academy Award-nominated film easily justified a sequel with the also excellent Creed II (2018), which had Adonis facing the killer of his father, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), and his boxer protégé son, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). For Adonis, the next stage in his journey could very well be his most personal yet.
Creed III (2023) not only sees Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) return to the now-iconic role but also introduces the actor to the director’s chair, as he’ll also be the latest person to take the creative reigns of the franchise. Here, Adonis has greatly matured from a lost young man into a responsible adult, continuing his career as a professional boxer and being a good father to his daughter and husband to his wife. That’s until a ghost from his past returns after years apart, Adonis will be literally backed into a corner for the fight of his life.
Creed III will feature both returning favorites and new opponents for Adonis to face in his latest adventure, so for a comprehensive who’s who of the latest installment in this long-running saga, simply read below.
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed
Michael B. Jordan became the namesake of the soon-to-be trilogy very likely thanks to his close relationship with original Creed director Ryan Coogler, as he’s starred in every one of his feature films such as Fruitvale Station (2013) and Black Panther (2018), and now he’ll be taking over as director for Creed III for the very first time.
Adonis struggled in his early years, popping in and out of juvenile facilities with no family to look up to. Unbeknownst to him at the time, Adonis was the son of Apollo after the late boxer had an affair with Adonis’s mother. Despite this, Apollo’s widow Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) learned of Adonis’s existence and offered to take the child in and his him as her own. Adonis found himself a comfortable white-collar job, but with the knowledge of his dad’s legacy and profession is eating at him, and Adonis leaves the job behind to seek out Apollo’s rival-turned-close friend, Rocky Balboa. Just like that, Rocky became the father that Adonis never had, ultimately earning him a place outside of Apollo’s shadow and introducing him to love with a local musician with Bianca (Tessa Thompson).
Creed II begins with Adonis proposing to Bianca, progressing the incredible life he now finds himself in. That life is threatened by the return of an old Rocky enemy, Ivan Drago, who wishes to enter back into the spotlight after being publicly humiliated all those years ago back in Rocky IV (1985). Adonis also wants justice for his father’s death at the hands of Ivan, and ultimately prevails in this as the two families finally are able to put the past behind them. Rocky even gets a happy ending for himself, seemingly leaving the franchise in Adonis’s more than-capable hands.
Adonis’ boxing career is still going strong in at the beginning of Creed III, now a father to his daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) and happily leading his own boxing practice, but this eventually leads to his retirement, deciding to end his career on a high note. Ultimately, our hero’s past catches up to him, as he sees an old friend leaning on the hood of his car who is the start of a whole new set of problems for the Creed family.
Outside his collaborations with Coogler and the Creed films, Jordan has also starred in films such as A Journal for Jordan (2021), Without Remorse (2021), Just Mercy (2019), and Chronicle (2012).
Jonathan Majors as Damian Anderson
That old friend is Damian Anderson, played by Jonathan Majors (Loki) in what seems to be a hot streak of villain roles for the actor fresh from playing the Marvel Cinematic Universe big bad Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
The Rocky/Creed series is almost as well known for its heroes as it is for its villains, bringing depth and humanity to both. That very much seems to be the case for Damian, whose history with Adonis dates all the way back to when they were children. Essentially, Damian is the version of Adonis that didn’t get a wealthy widow to raise him, being stuck in prison for about eighteen years. When he gets out, Adonis is the first person he seeks out, telling him he’s working on improving himself in his life after incarceration, even training to become a boxer like his friend. This causes Adonis to offer Damian a place to train, but it becomes abundantly clear that Damian has some shady ulterior motives. Now it’s friend against friend in a title fight that may end in a loss no matter who wins.
Majors is becoming one of the biggest rising stars in the business. Outside his roles in Creed III and the MCU, the actor has starred in films and series such as Devotion (2022), Lovecraft Country (2020), The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019), The Harder They Fall (2021), and Da 5 Bloods (2020). Due out later this year he stars in the psychological drama Magazine Dreams (2023), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and earned him some of the highest praises of his career.
Tessa Thompson as Bianca Creed
As if having Marvel stars like Killmonger and Kang a part of the film wasn’t enough, Creed III fulfills a hat trick of MCU stars with Valkyrie herself, Tessa Thompson (Thor: Love and Thunder).
Bianca and Adonis met practically by pure happenstance, with Adonis seeing Bianca performing in a nearby club. The two hit it off pretty quickly and get to know each other, with Bianca telling Adonis that her music career is ultimately doomed due to her progressive hearing loss, where she’ll be completely deaf in several years. This does little to sway their affection for each other, eventually, get married and have a kid in the second film. They were dismayed to learn that their child didn’t just inherit her mother’s hearing condition, but actually had an even more severe case of being born without hearing, but it’s a challenge that the couple is absolutely willing to overcome.
In between rooting for Adonis and protecting Asgard, Thompson has appeared in films and shows such as Westworld (2016-2022), Passing (2021), Lady and the Tramp (2019), Sorry to Bother You (2018), and Selma (2013).
Mila Davis-Kent as Amara Creed
The older version of Adonis and Bianca’s daughter will be played by newcomer Mila Davis-Kent, who like the character she’s playing, is deaf in real life.
The children of the many main characters of this franchise almost always have their goals and actions defined by their love of their children, and that’s expected to be the case for Adonis’ journey for Creed III. We only get brief glimpses of Amara in the trailer, but she’s already following in her dad’s footsteps and practicing some boxing moves alongside him.
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed
Phylicia Rashad returns as Mary Anne Creed, the adoptive mother of Adonis who started his so far three-film journey.
She’s one of the first people we see in the first film, meeting a young Adonis as she explains who she is. Even though this child has no blood relation to her and is a reminder of her husband being unfaithful, Mary Anne doesn’t feel an ounce of resentment for the boy and loves him as if she were her own. Since then, she has continued to be a supportive figure to Adonis, Bianca, and Amara, and will no doubt continue to be so in the upcoming installment.
Rashad has had a legendary career both on screen and on stage having been nominated for several Emmys and winning several Tony Awards. She rose to prominence with her role on The Cosby Show (1984-92) and has since made appearances in films and series such as Empire (2016-18), David Makes Man (2019-), Soul (2020), and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020).
Wood Harris as Tony ‘Little Duke’ Evers
Another returning ally of Adonis is Tony ‘Little Duke’ Evers, played by Wood Harris.
Little Duke is the son of Duke Evers (Tony Burton), who trained both Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa. Little Duke continues the family business and is training the next generation of boxers himself. He initially didn’t get along too great with Adonis for his cocky attitude and lack of experience, but since then he’s come around and the two are not only effective business partners but close friends as well.
Outside his role in the Creed films, Harris has appeared in films and series such as Dredd (2012), Remember the Titans (2000), Ant-Man (2015), Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (2022-), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
Tony Bellew as ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan
Creed III will see the return of two main antagonists from the previous two films, both of which are played by professional real-life boxing athletes. The first is Tony Bellew as ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan.
Pretty was the first major antagonist of the Creed series, appearing as the British bad boy of the boxing world who went undefeated and was forced to retire due to jail time he received for gun charges. Arrogant, confrontational, and not afraid to get physical before the match even starts, Conlan also has a soft side to him, caring deeply for his family who he won’t see for quite a while in prison. Conlan does ultimately win his match with Adonis, but also shows humility and congratulates his opponent, recognizing him as a new star in the sport.
Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago
The second returning antagonist is Viktor Drago, once again played by Florian Munteanu.
Like his father, Ivan, Viktor was raised in a brutal, unforgiving environment, both in terms of his home life and his training as a boxer. He also inherited Ivan’s resentment for the Creed and Balboa families, blaming them for the estranged relationship they both have with Viktor’s mother. The father and son duo continuously butt heads, but in the final match with Creed (with the hero winning this time), the two ultimately find peace and reconcile with each other, deciding to finally move on with their lives.
Munteanu’s career has blown up since Creed II, he joined the MCU as Razor Fist in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) and he starred alongside Chris Pine in the action thriller The Contractor (2022). He is next set to star as Krieg in Eli Roth‘s highly anticipated video game movie Borderlands (2023).
Jose Benavidez as Felix Chavez
Jose Benavidez plays Felix Chavez, who after Creed’s retirement becomes the new boxing heavyweight champion. In the film, Adonis attempts to set up a match between Chavez and Drago, but after a series of events, the former ends up going toe-to-toe with Damian.
Will Sylvester Stallone Appear?
It’s been confirmed by Sly himself that Rocky will not be appearing in the film. The character wasn’t killed off but is now spending a quiet time in retirement with his son and grandson, leaving boxing behind seemingly for good. Stallone cited that creative differences were the reason for his exit, though it’s possible we still might see him again in a future film should there be one. Regardless, this marks the first time in the franchise that Rocky has not been present, so Creed III will have a lot to live up to prove the franchise can live on without Balboa.
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