INTERVIEW: Michael B. Jordan’s Creed faces past demons head on in ‘Creed III’

Credit: Eli Ade

Credit: Eli Ade

Jonathan Majors plays a figure from Creed’s childhood.

The “Rocky” storyline, which began in 1976, is now well into its second generation. Apollo Creed’s son Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) became heavyweight champ just like his dad, battering Viktor Drago by the end of the second “Creed” film in 2018.

Now can Jordan keep the franchise in fighting shape going into its sixth decade with “Creed III”?

This “Creed” sequel, the first one that Jordan has directed and the first without Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in sight, is set in Los Angeles, not Philadelphia. It was also largely shot in metro Atlanta and hits theaters this Friday, March 3.

In the film, Creed remains married to Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and they are raising a feisty young daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) who wants to fight, too. Now in his mid-30s, Creed is three years removed from active competition and runs a gym for boxers.

Then a childhood friend Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) pops up after 18 years in prison and wants to fight professionally again despite his own relatively advanced age. Naturally, Creed helps Dame out, but they have a falling out. Creed ultimately finds a reason to box again and battle the demons of his past.

The movie has many classic “Rocky” elements even if Rocky himself is only referenced in passing: the internal emotional turmoil of the leading man, the ever sturdy training montage and a big signature boxing match at the end of the film set in a CGI version of Dodger Stadium.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Jordan and Majors at the St. Regis Atlanta in Buckhead last week about the film. Here are the highlights:

Jordan on taking the reins: “This is the first character I got to play three times and I got a chance to grow with Adonis on screen and off. Being able to get to it at this point in the game, it felt like it was the perfect opportunity to take over the franchise and start directing.”

Credit: Eli Ade

Credit: Eli Ade

Majors on creating a new character Dame: “There’s a very clear manuscript in this universe. I studied the world of Adonis. Having Dame show up helps Adonis grow. He has to address this natural conflict with his past. Adonis needs an adversary.”

Jordan on the murky motivations of Creed to fight again: “We didn’t want to tell a story that was just black and white and right and wrong. We wanted to tell the reality of life which is a lot of gray area. I wanted to make it hard on the viewer and the audience on who to root for. I wanted Adonis to feel like an underdog in his own franchise and make the movie feel like an origin story as well. We had to go back to his early relationships, his first heartbreak, his first protector who taught him how to fight. It’s rare to have the same relationships when you’re a young child and when you become a man. What happens in all that time and space? We created that space and the conflict when we had Adonis and Dame come back together. The story started to write itself.”

Jordan on the future of the franchise: “We’ve created some real characters that people are invested in and and have an impact on Adonis’ life. It would be criminal not to see them in the future. I want to create an entire Creedverse to tell stories on different platforms. You have comic books. You have graphic novels. There are video games coming out. There’s animation. Spinoffs. Television. There are so many different ways to tell the story. ... There’s more coming.”

Credit: Eli Ade

Credit: Eli Ade

Jordan on an Atlanta studio becoming Dodger Stadium for the signature fight: “That was great visual effects. We needed plates from the actual stadium to help integrate with our filming. IMAX cameras shot on a soundstage. Our incredible visual effects team put in hours and hours of work to make it right. Postproduction is a real thing. You write one movie, you shoot one movie and you edit one movie. We made the fights specifically for IMAX cameras and ratios with immersive sound. I want them to feel like they were in the ring with us.”


“Creed III,” in area movie theaters March 3.