The Rocky franchise has seen its fair share of ups and downs in the 46 years since Sylvester Stallone first brought the Italian Stallion to our screens in the classic Best Picture-winning original, so much so that the creator and longtime leading man is nowhere to be found in ninth installment Creed III.
Having lent support to Michael B. Jordan’s Donnie in the first two chapters of the spinoff series – landing an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor into the bargain for Creed – Stallone is out of the picture as the new face of the boxing saga takes center stage all on his own, with Jordan’s unstoppable rise to the top of the A-list continuing as he pulls double duty on his feature-length directorial debut.
Based on the footage in the trailer, it doesn’t seem as though Rocky’s absence will be felt at all, as harsh as it is to say. Creed III features a sizeable time jump looking at how the daughter of Donnie and Tessa Thompson’s Bianca is all grown up, with Jonathan Majors poised to deliver another powerhouse performance in and outside of the ring as recently-released convict Dame.
Close friends during childhood, Donnie and Dame went their separate ways, but not before the latter ended up serving a lengthy stretch in prison. Now free and bubbling with rage and jealousy at the life he’d always dreamed of being lived by someone he once treated as a brother, the two trade personal and professional barbs in what’s destined to be another one of those showstopping pugilistic showdowns fans have been going wild for since 1976.
Creed III comes to theaters in March 2023, and Jordan gives off the confident air of someone who knows they’re going to knock it out of the park both in front of and behind the camera.