Michael B Jordan’s ‘Creed III’ is a first-generation professional’s hero’s journey

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  • Published on October 20, 2022
  • Last Updated December 22, 2022
  • In Culture

Jo Davis discusses Michael B. Jordan’s role as Donnie Creed alongside other actors in Creed III, coming to theaters March 3, 2023.

It’s been seven years since Ryan Coogler introduced us to Adonis “Donnie” Creed, son of famed boxer Apollo Creed from the Rocky franchise, and brought to life by Michael B. Jordan. The actor and the character have both grown tremendously, and Creed III represents a peak for both. Donnie, in the film’s new trailer, says, “For the past seven years, I’ve been living out my wildest dreams.” Jordan is splitting his time in front of the camera and behind it as he makes his directorial debut.

In a press conference for the release of the film’s trailer, Jordan shared insights on his journey to the director’s chair as well as Donnie’s journey on screen in this third installment of the Creed series. The character seems to mirror the life journey of so many first-generation college students who went on to become successful business-people like Donnie and Jordan.

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C3_26196_R Tessa Thompson stars as Bianca and Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed in CREED III A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Eli Ade © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Eli Ade Eli Ade

Jordan said that his entire career has led him to his directorial debut at the helm of Creed III. He spoke about spending more than two decades in the business, first as an extra and then eventually growing into a leading man. Along the way, he observed the duties of the cast and crew, taking note of how everyone’s jobs changed over the years. For Jordan, absorbing all of this information only created and fed a thirst to make his own movies.

“Finally, I got to this place in my career where I wanted to tell a story and not just be in front of the camera, not just execute somebody else’s vision,” he said.

Jordan said that Donnie was the perfect place to start because he was, “…a character that I’ve played twice before. It’s been seven, eight years living with this guy.”

Jordan sees the Creed series as a chance to incorporate his life experiences in his art.

“I had a lot to say as a young man, as a young Black man, just my life experiences and how I could actually share that, share a piece of myself with the world–through these characters and through this story,” he said.

He did exactly that in the film. The trailer reveals Donnie’s life seven years after the end of Creed II. His daughter Amara (Mila Davis Kent) is older now, and her mother, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), completes the happy Creed family. Donnie himself is successful and working behind the ropes while building an empire. We get some great shots of Jordan in pinstripes coming to the side of one of his fighters in the ring after a fight. There are also some vivid glimpses of the fights between fighters other than Donnie. He has transcended from the ring to the boardroom.

His early life on the streets returns in the form of a long-lost friend Damien, played by Jonathan Majors. Damien is the friend who didn’t make it out of the ‘hood, but instead was swept up by the prison pipeline. Donnie must balance his survivor’s guilt, experienced by so many first-generation Black professionals, with the need to protect his livelihood and family from a force hellbent on bringing it all down. Damien has a hidden agenda, to prove that he deserved Donnie’s life and success.

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C3_19200_RC Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed and Jonathan Majors as Damian Anderson in CREED III A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Eli Ade © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Eli Ade

Jordan said that Damien and Donnie have a very important story that will impact so many people around his age of 35. It’s that point in life after being the first to succeed when guilt and doubt sets in for Black professionals. Jordan said about this stage in the film, “You have to face your past and find out who you really are.” He went on to describe this depiction in the film as, “a homecoming.” Jordan added of the film that “remembering where you come from, I think, is really important in this one as well…and sometimes settling debts.”

Creed III will be tackling issues that so many nearing (or already in the midst of) middle-age are facing. If the trailer is any indication, the film will be a commentary on a first-generation professional’s journey, past the point when curses are broken and dreams come true. What comes after that? Jordan hopes that the film will become an inspiration to people at that vital stage of life.

“And a lot of things that are going on in this movie that I feel like…would help them have some clarity in and relate to sometimes tough decisions that you have to go through as an adult, you know, [to] become an adult. And it’s okay, you know–you’re gonna be alright. You’re gonna get through it.”

Creed III comes to theaters March 3, 2023.

Jonita Davis (jonitadavis.com) is a film critic, writer, and pop culture junkie behind the online publication The Black C.A.P.E. Magazine (theblackcape.com, @theblackcapemag). She is also a freelance writer, a published author, an English professor, and a podcaster. She has a master’s degree in English (Literary Criticism Concentration) from Purdue University and teaches writing at Waubonsee Community College. Her previous works include Michigan City’s Marinas(History Press 2009), Michigan City’s Washington Park(History Press 2011), Questioning Cultural Appropriation(Enslow Publishing 2019), and We Gon Be Black Today(Chicago Review Press, 2023).

This story was created by Detour, a journalism brand focused on the best stories in Black travel, in partnership with McClatchy’s The Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald. Detour’s approach to travel and storytelling seeks to tell previously under-reported or ignored narratives by shifting away from the customary routes framed in Eurocentrism. The detour team is made up of an A-list of award-winning journalists, writers, historians, photographers, illustrators and filmmakers.

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