Creed III (2023) Review



In 2015, moviegoers everywhere were introduced to the film Creed, which was set to act as a continuation to the Rocky movie franchise as a sort of “offshoot” to the boxing cinematic series. The film, which was directed by Ryan Coogler and starred Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, and Tessa Thompson, told the story of Adonis Creed (the wayward son of the late Apollo Creed) and he followed in his father’s footsteps into the boxing ringing (with Rocky in his corner training him). Creed, which is the seventh installment in the Rocky franchise, was met with generally positive reviews from both critics and moviegoers, finding the movie to generally solid (with its story being predictable) as well as strong performances from both Stallone and Jordan. During its theatrical run, Creed was able to cultivate a little bit over $173 million at the box office worldwide (against its $40 million production budget) and did receive several nominations during the award season, with Stallone winning the National Board of Review for Best Supporting Actor, Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Golden Globe Award for Best Support Actor for his role as Rocky in the movie. Three years later, Jordan’s Adonis Creed returned to the big screen for another installment in 2018’s Creed II, which saw the return of Jordan himself as well as Thompson and Stallone, while directorial duties were handed off to Steven Caple Jr. to helm this second outing. Creed II continued the narrative from the first one, with the plot centering around Adonis, still under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, as they face off against Viktor Drago, the son of Rocky IV’s Ivan Drago. Like its predecessor, Creed II was praised by critics and moviegoers alike for the direction, character development, and performances, especially in Stallone, Jordan, Lundgren, and Munteanu, while noting the obvious narrative predictability. Now, five years since the release of Creed II, Warner Bros. Studios and director Michael B. Jordan (making his directorial debut) prepares for the next chapter in Adonis Creed’s tale in the movie Creed III. Does this third outing of the Rocky spin-off is carrying the same type of bravado and energy as its forbearers or has the “boxing magic” run out of this popular sports drama endeavor?


With his fighting days behind him, Adonis “Hollywood” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is retired from boxing, celebrating his career and preferring to take a more managerial role with his home gym, with the current heavyweight champion, Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez), training there. Domestically, Adonis is living a comfortable life with his wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), further continuing her music passion as a producer, and their daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), who has her father’s fighting spirit. Adonis’s blissful peace is soon disrupted by the return of his old friend Damian “Dame” Andersen (Jonathan Majors). Years ago, Damien was aspiring young boxer who took the heat for Adonis after the young man was caught up in violent altercation and sent to prison, which derailed any type of boxing prospect in his life. Now, Damien is back, looking to Adonis for help and becoming a new heavyweight contender. Unsure what his old friend truly wants and what is aims are, Adonis gets Damian into the training mix, only to watch as the unruly, caged man claim supremacy, gunning for glory and fame. Damien looks to unravel Adonis’s legacy, putting pressure on the retired boxer to fight one last time before his old friend destroy everything he has worked for.


Much like what I said above (as well in my review for both Creed and Creed II), I grew up watching the Rocky movies, so I was pretty well-versed in the cinematic mythos of the famous movie character of Rocky Balboa. As I’ve mentioned before, my personal favorite Rocky movies were the original 1976 film as well as 1985’s Rocky IV (love the “Hearts on Fire” montage sequence). Suffice to say, while majority of the franchise is mostly conventional predictable, the Rocky films have stood the “test of time” in becoming a famous movie series. Then, in 2015, Creed came out and brought with it a twist of old and new tales together; branching out in discovering the story of Adonis Creed and the continuation of much older Rocky Balboa. To me, the film “modernizes” the classic Rocky narrative for a new generation of viewers, utilizing the character of Adonis as the “new generation” and having the character of Rocky anchoring the film’s story. Personally, Creed was great movie that had a lot the heart, drama, and excitement one would expect from a Rocky feature film, thanks to Coogler’s direction as well as Stallone and Jordan’s equally solid performances. Similarly, Creed II was another successful entry in the Rocky / Creed film franchise, which proved to be quite effective in its undertaking. True, Coogler’s departure was sort felt in the movie, especially during the middle act, but Steven Caple Jr. still manage to make a solid sports drama that had followed its spiritual influences from the Rocky movies. Seeing Jordan, Thompson, and Stallone return was also a delight. Plus, I felt that the reunion between Lundgren’s Ivan Drago and Stallone’s Rocky was a great fan-favorite moments that many were looking forward to seeing as well as actor Florian Munteanu give a memorable performance as Viktor Drago. All in all, I felt that the Creed  movies was a great extension to the Rocky films and the start of new franchise as a kind of sort of “one foot in the past and one foot in the future” vibe.

Naturally, this brings me back to talking about Creed III, a 2023 sports drama feature and the third installment in the Creed spin-off franchise (the overall ninth film in the Rocky series). Given the success and box office reception received by 2018’s Creed II, it was an inevitable conclusion that a next entry in the tale of Adonis Creed would eventually materialize, with the announcement coming a few months after the release of the sequel. Of course, being a fan of the franchise, I was quite excited to see where the third entry would take Adonis and his family and how the narrative of this spin-off endeavor would venture down. Of course, the news soon broke that Sylvester Stallone would not be reprising his role of the indominable Rocky Balboa, a very serious blow, especially since it was Stallone’s franchise to begin with. Of course, the “behind the scenes” turmoil that led up to that point was probably the reasoning behind Stallone not being involved in Creed III. Still, beyond that point, everyone else would be returning, including Thompson, Harris, and Jordan, who was offered the role of director for the feature; a first for him. Thus, Creed III has a lot to live up to and the hype was already mounting during its pre-production stages. After that, the movie sort of laid low for a while, until the film’s marketing campaign started to ramp up, especially when the film’s movie trailers started to appear during the “coming attractions” previews at theaters. From the trailers alone, the movie looked great, which still generated a lot of “Rocky” feeling, yet somewhat felt like it was doing its own thing. Plus, with the film adding actor Jonathan Majors as the feature’s main villain provided plenty of excitement. Thus, I was pretty excited to see where Creed III was going to measure up to the rest of the franchise (both in the Creed spin-off saga and in the overall Rocky franchise). I did go to go see the movie during its opening weekend on March 3rd, 2023, but I had to wait a few days to get my review done. So, now…. I finally have some time to share my opinions on this latest Creed outing? And what did I think of it? Well, I liked it. Despite a few missteps in narrative undertaking and execution, Creed III manages to deliver a solid presentation for this next chapter in Adonis Creed’s journey through a magnetic chemistry between Jordan and Majors. I think that the movie is probably the weakest entry in the Creed saga, but it’s also the more personal journey of the three and still as loads of sports drama entertainment value through its viewing experience.

As mentioned, Creed III is directed by Michael B. Jordan, who makes his directorial debut with the film. Given the attention and anticipation that this particular movie had when it was first announced, especially since it is attached to the longtime popular such as the Rocky series, it is an interesting choice to have such a high-profile endeavor been given to a first-time director. Yet, Jordan, being the film’s title character, has the knowledge of franchise and everything is supposed to work, which was probably why he showed interest and won the director’s position for this movie. So, how does he fare in his directorial debut? Well, in truth, he actually does a pretty good job. Of course, there are a few hiccups and bumps that Jordan can’t overcome in his execution (more on that below), but, for the most part, he does a better job than what I was expecting from a first-time director opportunity. Known the previous entries by being the film’s title main character is beneficial for Jordan, who (as an actor) knows of what to expect from the character and by its story in proximity, which helps build upon a foundation for this particular entry in the boxing sports drama spin-off. To be sure, Jordan is up to the task of bringing Creed III’s narrative to a cinematic light and certainly helps further cement the foundation of what this side story endeavor project has bloomed into, especially with the omission of Stallone’s Rocky (more on that below). Much like early installments of the Rocky films, Jordan makes Creed III a sort of “steppingstone” for the character of Adonis Creed, who must stand on his own and creates his own legacy from his name. The first film was the legacy of the father, while the second one was unfinished business between Creed’s name as well as Stallone’s Rocky with Drago. Jordan establishes Creed III with the measure of “passing the battalion” for Adonis, who, like Rocky III, must generate his own story without the usage of old familiars. That’s not to say that there are returning players to the movie (of which they are), but Jordan further spins the yarn that Creed III is about Adonis as the main focal point and who must deal with the problems presented to him on his own terms.

Speaking of which, the story in Creed III does have an interesting spin on it, with the character of Damien resurfacing in Adonis’s life, who is seeking a future that was snatched away from him during his prime. This sort of “grudge / revenge” match is fairly commonplace within the sports drama arena, but it is a neat to see play out in a Rocky / Creed narrative. True, enough this plot pattern has been done previously, yet still feels refreshing as Jordan makes the experience of the third Creed installment have more of a personal impact on the movie, with the past history between Adonis and Damien being the main crux of the feature’s main substance. Thus, Jordan does spend a lot of time in the project by showcasing the two men and how they deal with one another in the present, while also shedding light on their respective pasts. Again, this is a very tried and true method of storytelling that has been previous done before, so originality is something you’ll find. That being said, the Rocky franchise has been built upon the classic underdog style of nuances, with very formulaic narrative construction to help create a very familiar foundation. Thus, as was before, it’s not so much on the ingenuity of brand-new storytelling arcs, but rather the refinement of it all, with Jordan make that so in the film. Of course, there are a few new elements thrown into the mix, which gives Creed III a little bit creativeness in its undertaking, especially in the development of Adonis’s daughter, Amara. While not as the main focus of the movie, Jordan does show interest in presenting Amara in a interesting light, especially since the character is deaf and shows her parents (Adonis and Bianca) using sign language with her. It’s something different to be found in a Rocky / Creed endeavor and, while it may be a small thing to some, it was great usage of further creating a character with a disability in a major mainstream film; a sort of inclusion without feeling force into the narrative just for the sake of it and / or shoehorned in.

Storytelling aside, Creed III does bring the spectacle in the film’s action boxing scenes, which are pretty good in the movie, with some more “in your face” sequences portraying each blow, punch, and reaction towards the fighting. While there are fewer fight scenes than the previous two, Jordan still gives the feature enough of the “one-two” punch to help interject the stamina to make an impact on the feature. In addition, the fighting scenes in Creed III have a little more different pizzazz than previously, with Jordan stating that he took influences style from popular amines such as Naruto and Dragon Ball Z. This is clearly shown in a few scenes, which adds a little bit of a new dynamic in the overall presentation of fight sequences. All in all, I think Jordan, despite a few missteps, still manage to make a very successful and solidly built feature film, with Creed III acting as a strong directorial debut film that is more confidant and more well-rounded than a first-time movie should work.

Within its presentation, Creed III is presented in a well-made film that speaks to the rest of the past endeavors of the series and to the mainstream outlets of today’s film world. From the boxing rings to streets, Jordan takes this latest movie in a realism way that definitely helps build upon what was established in the previous installments, which keeps the feature grounded and have its heart in the right place (setting wise). The background setting for the Rocky / Creed films has always been a character unto itself, with Creed III showcasing the grittiness as well as the high-rolling lifestyles of its characters. Thus, the “behind the scenes” key players, including Jahmin Assa (production design), Justin Allen and Jarrette Moats (art direction), Christy McIrwin and Cara Price (set decorations), and Lizz Wolf (costume designs) for their efforts in making the film’s world feel both realistic in a believable way as well as feeling that heighten cinematic way. In addition, the film’s cinematography work by Kramer Morgentthau work is quite good in the movie and helps build up such cinematic moments in the feature, which lends credibility to the tight and fast paced fight scenes that deliver upon the feature’s intense action scenes. Lastly, the film’s score, which was composed by Joseph Shirley, is pretty good overall and definitely hits all the right moments of the feature’s dramatic moments, especially in the grand sweeping scenes and the quieter character dialogue sequences. Perhaps the only downside to Shirley’s score is that it isn’t as rousing and / or memorable as the previous Creed installments as well as the lack of hearing the famous “Rocky” theme playing, which was probably not absent from the feature do to Stallone not appearing in the movie….at least my guess at least.

Unfortunately, Creed III does have it some problems in its undertaking, which causes the feature to be the weakest entry in the spin-off saga of young Adonis Creed. How so? Well, for starters, the film, much like the rest of the franchise, is quite predictable from the get-go. Of course, the overall sports drama “underdog” narrative is sort of like the “bread and butter” of the Rocky films (and has proven to do so) and by extension the same with the Creed films. So, both Creed and Creed II, suffered the same type of narrative pedigree, with a very familiar formula of storytelling that proceeds throughout the movie from beginning to end. Creed III, despite its attempts, still charts its course within that very same foundation of storytelling, with very predictable elements of the underdog theme narrative plotting. Of course, this isn’t a “dealbreaker” and isn’t too much of a bothersome (for me at least), but there are those out there who are looking for something a little bit different and are not going to find that within Creed III. Given what’s been said and shown in the movie’s trailers / TV sports, there’s very little “surprise” in store within the film’s undertaking, with heavy foreshadowing coming to light in a very mundane manner. Naturally, the Rocky / Creed features have always been about the journey and how it gets refined throughout the episodic entries and not so much on the overall changes of narrative and the recycled nature of the tale being told.

Speaking of narratives, the script for Creed III does come to be a bit a little bit problematic in how it stages everything in the chronology of Adonis’s journey in the movie as well as the family members of his. Penned by Kennan Coogler (brother to Ryan Coogler) and Zach Baylin, the script, with a story co-worked by Ryan Coogler along with Kennan and Zach, still carries the same type of underdog pedigree that the previous installments have carried throughout the feature film endeavors, but, with Creed III, a lot more emphasis has been placed upon character development, with most in particular the relationship between Adonis and Damien. Thus, the shift in focus from sports drama to more character driven nuances is a bit jarring, especially when most of the first half of the film is spent on such details. Of course, this is a good thing to a certain degree, but this comes at the cost of the movie’s action set pieces, which is probably the least amount in Creed spin-off pictures. This also comes at the expense of some of the other character developments in the movie that are presented, yet don’t have the quite the same payoff in the end. Certain examples of this can be found in Amara’s story arc for Creed III, a character that we (as the viewer) get introduced to with a strong introduction, yet feels forgetful in the latter half of the plot. Plus, the ending of the feature leaves a little bit to be desired. Everything sort of gets tied up after the climax, yet something seems missing. It’s hard to say what “it” actually is as I can’t place my finger on it, but it doesn’t have the rousing, resonating feeling that the other two Creed movies were able to achieve. I think that the scrip for Creed III could’ve been a little bit tighter in its story shaping structure and could’ve added a tad bit more of focus overall to help balance its action and character-built drama.

This also then extends to the direction of the feature, which, while I do praise Jordan for delivering a better film as a first-time director, still holds the feature back. Yes, the nuances are there, and the elements of staging are ever presence, but the actual directorial finesse seems to be lacking in the feature. Again, it’s a bit hard to say what those finesse aspects are, but I did notice that the film could’ve utilized certain things a little bit more. More time for motivations in characters, more time with certain subplots, more time to linger on certain scenes, more time with additional scenes (for extra content), more ample space for a conclusion. Stuff like that comes from the directorial works of a seasoned director, who has a clear vision of what he / she wants to accomplish. Jordan, while confidant in the story and what he wants to project, doesn’t exactly follow through correctly in Creed III’s cinematic manifestation.

As a very minor complaint point of criticism, Creed III doesn’t really acknowledge much of what’s become of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, the primary character of the Rocky franchise. While there has been some real-life “behind the scenes” drama as to why Stallone’s Rocky wouldn’t be appearing in the film, the movie seems to completely omit as to the status of Balboa in Creed III. Is he dead? Alive? In a hospital? Living with his son? Nothing is really addressed as to what Rocky has been up to in the movie as if he’s been completely written out of his own franchise…..even if this is more of a spin-off project. Heck, there was even one or two scenes where character could’ve appeared in the movie (via letter) that could’ve made the inclusion as to absence of Rocky more engaging. I know that Creed III is more about the “passing the torch” legacy notion, but I do find it strange that Rocky isn’t really brought up much in the movie….

Of course, the cast in Creed III is solid across the board, with the assemblage of acting talent involved on this project up to make the most of their respective characters. Naturally, some of the returning players are quite familiar with their roles, while newcomers join in and help fill out the latest additions in the feature. Leading the charge in the film once again is actor Michael B. Jordan, who plays the movie’s protagonist character of Adonis “Hollywood” Creed. Known for his roles in Black Panther, Fruitvale Station, and A Journal for Jordan, Jordan has certainly become a “up and coming” actor of late, with a lot paramount roles that he has recently played. Thus, the continuation of him playing the character of Adonis Creed definitely seems to make sense and (as an actor) continues to make an impact on this spin-off Creed yarn with vigor and great screen presence nuance. As mentioned above, Creed III gives plenty of new areas for Adonis to maneuver through that, while not the most original, still provides some new context for Jordan to play around with. Thus, from the performance angle side of things, Jordan gives another solid one in his portrayal of Adonis, one that is given credence and understanding to the character in ways that weren’t previous explore in the past Creed features. As stated, more past history is explored in the movie, which builds brings Adonis’s past relationship with Damien to light and helps bridge an unforeseen glimpse to a younger, wayward Adonis. Plus, it’s quite interesting to see Adonis as a family man (as seen briefly in Creed II) and to see where his character goes in and around the film. All in all, I felt that Jordan does a good job in making Adonis’s third outing an enjoyable and emotional ride for this latest picture, one that will surely resonate with the character, with the hopes of many more installments on the horizon. As a sidenote, actor Thaddeus J. Mixson (South of Heaven and Reasonable Doubt) gives a good performance as a young Adonis.

Of course, while Jordan’s Adonis is the film’s main character, actor Jonathan Majors is the true star in Creed III as the film’s main antagonist character of Damien “Diamond Dame” Anderson. Known for his roles in Devotion, Lovecraft Country, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, has certainly become quite the “popular” actor in Hollywood of late, with his latest performance showcasing the screen presence that Majors is quite known for. As to be expected, Majors is a force to be reckoned with in the movie as he delivers a very multi-layered portrayal of Damien, one that is imbued with uncontrollable rage and unhinged determination. He’s definitely the perfect “bad guy” foil to Jordan’s Adonis, with Majors having a very magnetic personality…. even if he’s the antagonist of the feature. The movie’s story does shed light on the character of Damien with enough backstory to give him some dynamic and substance throughout the feature. Major’s physically stature is quite notable in the movie, but it’s through his facial expressions and mannerisms helps make the character of Damien to be quite the memorable role in the movie. As a sidenote, actor Spence Moore II (A.P. Bio and All American) does a good job playing the younger version of Damien.

In more supporting roles, Adonis’s family takes presence in more secondary character roles, with actress Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok and Westworld) returning to reprise her role as Bianca, Adonis’s wife and mother to their child. Thompson is still good as ever as Bianca, with Creed III given her a more mature / motherly feeling than in the previous entries and gives a new dynamic to her portrayal of the female character. That downside, however, is that the script doesn’t allow much for Bianca to do in the movie. There are a couple of dialogue lines where she explains her passion and her recent circumstances, but there isn’t a whole lot to do to in the main plot of the feature, which renders her mostly as the concerned wife stereotype. Still, Thompson is still very good in the role. I just wished there was a little bit more substance for her to play around with in the film. Likewise, Creed III also introduces the character of Amara Creed, Adonis and Bianca’s daughter who is deaf and who is played by young actress Mila Davis-Kent (The Resident). While she isn’t quite the famous and / or household name (as of yet), Davis-Kent is very talented young actress and it clearly shows that throughout her performance as Amara, who is darling to watch on-screen. As mentioned above, I did like how the movie sort of incorporate (or at least gave her some screen time) to showcases a film character that was deaf. Perhaps the only problem that I had with her character is that she sort of peters out in the second half of the movie, which is quite the shame. There’s a lot they could’ve done with her in the movie, especially after such a strong introduction Amara had. Still, while the latter half of Creed III sort of dismisses her from the narrative and she could’ve had a little bit more closure in film’s ending piece.

The rest of the cast, including actor Wood Harris (Remember the Titans and Empire) as Tony “Little Duke” Burton, boxer welterweight contender Jose Benavidez Jr. as recent heavyweight main player Felix “El Guerrero” Chavez”, actress Selenis Levya (Orange is the New Black and Diary of a Future President) as Felix’s mother Laura Chavez, and actress Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show and Little Bill) as Adonis’s mother Mary-Anne Creed, round out the remaining supporting players in the film. So, do get more screen time than others, but I felt that all of these acting talents gave solid representation of their respective characters. Lastly, there are a few surprising cameos that appear in the movie and, while I won’t spoil them for you guys, it was fun to see those said cameos appear in the film, especially for continuity purposes of the Creed franchise.


Retired from the sport, Adonis Creed’s demons from his past resurfaces, which sets off a chain reaction of events that leads him back to the ring against his old friend in the movie Creed III. Director Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut film takes the established narrative found in the first two movies and builds upon it by expanding the tale of Adonis, who stands on his own, with heartfelt dealing of legacy and confronting ones past. While the feature does struggle a little bit do to the nature formula of the franchise as well as some other nuances of changing focuses from time to time, the movie still manages to rise to the occasion and delivers an exciting new chapter to this spin-off series, with special thanks to Jordan’s direction, new storytelling beats, a solid presentation, visual aspects, and an all-round great cast (most notable Jordan and Majors). Personally, I liked this movie. Yes, as I mentioned above, I felt that the movie was somewhat my least favorite of the Creed spin-off series, especially since the movie shifts it’s focus a little bit with more character driven narrative than sports (as well as few other problematic areas), but that’s not to say the movie isn’t enjoyable and entertaining. With a movie shining a light on Adonis’s past (and his own demons to face), the film makes for a strong case for the character (and the spin-off tale endeavor) to stand on its own merits, which is a good thing. Plus, Jordan was solid in the director’s chair as well as a stirring performance from Majors. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a favorable “recommended” one, for those longtime fans of the Rocky franchise as well as an easy “self-contained” narrative for the casual moviegoers to follow. Like the previous films of the series, the movie is a “crowd pleaser” and easily digestible to view. While the movie could possibly cap off the tale of Adonis Creed as a trilogy endeavor, the ending of the feature leaves the door open for further continuation, much like the Rocky films. I, for one, would be interested to see where the story would go. Regardless, if one materializes or not, Creed III is another successful notch in the Rocky / Creed story, expanding upon a character’s journeys with old familiars, yet planting the seeds for new personal challenges on the horizon for a new focus in seasoned boxer.

4.0 Out of 5 (Recommended)


Released On: March 3rd, 2023
Reviewed On: March 9th, 2023

Creed III  is 116 minutes long and rated PG-13 for intense sports action, violence, and some strong language


  • Thanks for the review, Jason. Sounds like a solid movie, and though I’ve not really got into either of the others, like them I’ll probably watch it to see what the franchise has come up with now. You mentioned the recurring underdog theme of the original Rocky movies. That is one thing I always found intriguing was how they took Rocky, a great boxer and world champion, and kept getting him into positions where he was the underdog. Rocky 3 he had gotten apathetic, Rocky 4 he was facing technology, etc. Just some random thoughts….

    • Thank you for your comment and for reading my review! You should definitely check out the Creed movies. They are pretty good for a spin-off endeavor and are worth your time!

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