‘Creed 3’ promises sinister showdown between Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors

Movie trailers that feature a prominent showdown are easy to love. “Creed 3” is a fine example of this strategy.

Following the events of 2018’s “Creed 2,” the story picks up with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) coming off a seven year reign in the boxing world, having vanquished the son of Ivan Drago in the last film, completing the revenge trail for Drago Sr. killing dad back in 1984. After making a name for himself in the competitive world of boxing and taking out all opponents, life is seemingly slowing down for Creed as the events of the new film pick up.

That’s when the new boogeyman comes into play. Enter Jonathan Majors as a face from Adonis’ past, as in the best friend who went to jail for 15 years while Creed served nothing and came into prosperity when he became fast friends with Rocky Balboa. It’s Majors’ Damian who shows up outside Adonis’s gym asking for a tryout or some help, and audiences know right then and there these two men are going to fight. They may have used to be friends, but certain events have twisted that once strong bond.

No, this doesn’t stink of “Rocky V,” where a brain-damaged Rocky takes in a young fighter who would eventually be his nemesis in a street fight. That plot ploy was SO 90s that I ate it up like leftover birthday cake, but “Creed 3” has more straight forward plans. What happens when a single event ends up defining the lives of two men, sending them in opposite directions?

What’s extra intriguing is Jordan taking over directing duties from “Creed 2” helmer, Steven Caple Jr., pulling a page from Stallone’s book. Rocky himself directed every film except for the first one back in the late 70s. While he made a dent in the hearts and minds of pop culture heaven with his role in “Black Panther,” Jordan became a star with the “Creed” series. It was him, not Sly, who led those two films into critically appreciated box office success. Stallone may have provided some of the juice in the first one, but it was Jordan’s show.

The calling card for “Creed 3” is the showdown between two known actors, which is something new for the franchise. Carl Weathers, Mr. T, Ivan Drago, and Tommy Morrison weren’t names in Hollywood you would know when they entered the Rocky sphere. Jordan and Majors are established talents, with the latter getting his own Marvel thing on in the “Loki” series. Along with “The Harder They Fall” and “Da 5 Bloods” in addition to other headlining films, Majors is quickly coming into his own as both an actor and movie star. He’s further along than Jordan was when he got to “Creed” in 2015.

Majors did stop at the gym, or a few gyms, before coming to the set. Along with a jacked-as-usual Jordan, Majors looks like he’s ready to legit enter a boxing training camp. Ripped pecs, chiseled arms, and a physique that essentially screams NO FRENCH FRIES, ALL CLEAN CHICKEN. It shows he put the work in and took the role seriously, or it’s merely his job and he took it up a notch.

All of it adds extra juice to the third film, which will also be the first one not to feature Stallone. After starring in six films and co-starring in two others, the Italian Stallion is stepping aside and for good reason. As Sly said himself in an Instagram post, it’s time for the role to belong to Jordan and the story as well. Rocky will be around Philly theoretically, but not appear in the film.

That truly makes “Creed 3” the Jordan and Majors show, which is right where it needs to be. This film doesn’t have a need for the older man telling a young Adonis that he shouldn’t take the fight against his former friend, or some other hackneyed script. It’s a sage effort by the longtime movie star, the new director, and MGM.

It’s also taking the franchise in a new direction, as it rounds the corner at third base and heads home to its own conclusion. If this film does well, Jordan could get behind a fourth film and even fifth film. Young legs don’t just sell well in sports; they power movie franchises too. Being 35 and in the prime of his career, “Creed 3” is the perfect star vehicle for him while also being a jumpstart for Majors.

It speaks to the caliber of actor that Majors is that he can make such an entrance in a trailer. When you see Adonis walking out of that gym to a guy leaning on his car, it’s not hard to see the storm cloud moving into Creed’s world… in a MAJOR WAY. Sorry, some puns can’t be avoided.

The best thing about “Creed 3” is that it looks like a star-driven, CGI-less, old fashioned movie. A sequel that follows an established and storied IP, and looks fresh after 45 years.

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