Writers Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin penned the script for Creed III from a story they crafted with producer Ryan Coogler, marking the third installment in the successful franchise.
“My approach to the script was to honor the legacy built by the previous eight films, while also exploring themes we felt would resonate with audiences that may be newer to the saga,” says Keegan Coogler.
“Michael B. Jordan was very passionate about finding new ways to challenge Adonis, so Zach and I constructed an antagonist who could exploit the aspects of Adonis that make him so unique as a hero.”
“Adonis began his journey to prove his own worth in the ring and in life, but he soon finds himself emotionally unprepared for the new responsibilities that come with it—a flaw that I feel endears him to everyone.”
“I loved the first two movies and was incredibly excited to help continue the story.,” says Zach Baylin “I felt a big responsibility to match the drama and excitement of the entire franchise. From the beginning, our approach to the third film was to try and tell a really personal story. We didn’t want to just mine the ‘Rocky’ history. We wanted to explore where Adonis and his family were emotionally at this moment in their lives, which is a time of tremendous change for all of them. We wanted to tell a story about responsibility and guilt and survivor’s remorse. And we wanted to create a character in Dame that would challenge everything Adonis has built and believed he’s earned and who could be a real earthquake in their lives.”
“We also wanted to try and take a big swing with the genre of the film,” Baylin furthers. “Of course, it’s a visceral, exciting, inspiring boxing movie like all of the ‘Creed’ and ‘Rocky’ films are, but it’s also a thriller and a mystery and I think audiences are going to be surprised how tense and suspenseful and complicated this chapter is.”
“This is an origin story, a sequel, and a trilogy all in one,” concurs Jordan. “We’ve seen Adonis at a young age in the earlier films, but we never had the chance to really see how he was in and out of juvie, the way he lived before he met Mary-Anne, what really shaped him to be the Adonis Creed that we know, before he was adopted and brought into a life of wealth, opportunity and legacy. I felt it would result in a kind of identity crisis for him.”
Ryan Coogler is a writer/director and producer known for his inaugural feature film, Fruitvale Station which won the top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He has since co-written and directed the seventh film in the Rocky series, Creed, executive produced Creed II, and has returned to produce the upcoming Creed III. Coogler also co-wrote and directed Marvel’s critically acclaimed Black Panther and directed and co-wrote the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
It’s been years since Adonis Creed shocked the world by coming from nowhere to win the heavyweight title his late father, Apollo Creed, and mentor, Rocky Balboa, once held. Having defeated such opponents as Viktor Drago and Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler, Adonis, aka Donnie, has retired as World Heavyweight Champion to run the Delphi Academy with his former cornerman Tony “Little Duke” Burton, with current champ Felix Chavez in residence as Delphi’s star boxer.
Adonis is brought to life for the third time by star Michael B. Jordan, who stepped behind the camera to direct and produce as well. He states, “I had a clear vision of what I wanted the story to be, where I wanted the Creed family to go. The challenge of directing helped motivate me—I wanted to see if I had what it takes to act in and direct something that had been kicking around in my head for a long time. ‘Creed III’ is very personal to me and, thankfully, all those things added up to the perfect situation for this movie.”
“We wanted to further develop Adonis as a character,” he states. “We thought, ‘How would Adonis be fighting if he was a little bit insecure in certain places? What if he had a hell of a lot to prove? How many risks would he take, how much would he be willing to take in the ring? How many times would be willing to get punched, and how much damage is he willing to take?’ All of that played into the performance. It was important to go back to the character and, realizing who Adonis is, figure out ways to keep it all intimate and true to character and story.”
Jordan sums up by confirming that for audiences, “This is a movie to see on the big screen! The fights, the action, you want to see that up close and personal, you want to feel every punch, hear every impact, see every drip of sweat and drop of blood. This is a movie that will make you laugh, cry, and cheer! I want everybody to walk away feeling good, thinking, ‘Man, that was a ride!’”
I wanted the characters in my film to face their disagreements while making a statement about humanity and its nuances, with empathy. How we handle and communicate our emotions is a part of our exploration of our inner self. In “Creed III,” the film shows the different roads, relationships and interactions of two men that made different choices, lived different lives and found themselves in the same ring.
I wanted my film to reflect lessons I have learned in life. Lessons about being kind to one another, but mostly kind to ourselves. Most of us have not been taught how to do that. I wanted my film to also tackle the issues of toxic masculinity and what happens when you don’t face your past, when you don’t talk about and work through your trauma and pain.
Forgiveness is the most integral part of any conflict because it is the only way to overcome what you’re up against and confronting yourself in a real way is how you move forward with healing. At the heart of “Creed III” is forgiveness. Forgiveness of self and others. No matter who you are, or what your circumstances are, you can overcome your past, you can overcome any obstacle.
This film is not about one man fighting another for a world title. It is about challenging yourself and proving to yourself that your existence is legitimate, that you deserve your blessings. Moving with grace for yourself and for others. Believing that you are who you say you are, and all that you’ve done actually matters.