The recent news that Sylvester Stallone's lovable punching bag, Rocky Balboa, won't be part of Creed III hit fans like a Clubber Lang-style punch in the gut. But Creed star Michael B. Jordan — who graduates to the director's chair with the third installment in the spin-off series following young Adonis Creed — has a good reason for why the Italian Stallion isn't returning for another round. "I feel like this is the Creed franchise," the actor tells Yahoo Entertainment while discussing his new film, Without Remorse, which premieres April 30 on Prime Video. "We really want fans to be interested in Adonis and what that story has to say." (Watch our video interview above.)
At the same time, Jordan makes it clear that Rocky will always be a part of his pupil's life... even if they're not sharing the same frame. "There's going to be so many Rocky-isms that are forever going to stay with Adonis as he moves forward," he notes, suggesting that Balboa will still be represented onscreen. "So as far as page space, or whether or not Rocky comes back for this one, this is the Creed franchise moving forward."
It's worth noting that Stallone has his own plans for Rocky, who we last saw reuniting with his estranged son, Rocky Jr. (Milo Ventimiglia), in the closing moments of Creed II. The veteran actor has previously teased two possible future projects starring his alter ego. In a 2019 interview with Variety, Stallone discussed a solo sequel that would find Balboa training a young street fighter who is in the U.S. illegally. And in a recent Instagram post, he shared handwritten pages for a Rocky prequel series that would follow Balboa's early years on the mean streets of Philadelphia.
Stallone is also putting the finishing touches on a director's cut of Rocky IV, which serves as a prequel to Creed II. The new version will be retitled Rocky vs. Drago and will feature footage not previously seen in the 1985 blockbuster, which remains the highest-grossing entry in the franchise.
In other words, there are plenty of ways for Rocky to return outside of Creed III, and Jordan is thrilled to see where his mentor pops up next. "Rocky will live on and do other things, and I'm sure Creed fans are going to support Rocky as much as possible and hopefully vice versa as well."
In the meantime, Jordan is laser-focused on crafting Adonis's next chapter. "I've been acting for over 20 years, and over time your taste buds start to evolve and develop and you want to tell stories yourself," he says of his decision to step behind the camera. "Creed is the first character I'm coming back to play three times. I've been daydreaming about the opportunity and had a clear vision of where I want this character to go moving forward. I'm looking forward to sharing the story with everybody."
For the record, Jordan's co-stars in Without Remorse think he has the makings of a great director. "It's really important that directors understand actors, and because he's been on the other side of the camera, being behind it will give him insight," says Lauren London, who plays his on-screen wife in the Tom Clancy-derived action thriller. Jodie Turner-Smith, meanwhile, praises Jordan's ability to "listen" and his "spirit of collaboration." "When you direct something, it's like you're saying, 'This is what I have to say as a filmmaker. I can't wait to see what it is he has to say."
Having worked with Jordan twice — previously in 2015's ill-fated Fantastic Four reboot and now Without Remorse — Jamie Bell is particularly psyched for Creed III. "We have a scene in this movie where [Michael] chokes me out for two minutes, and he's choking me out for two minutes straight," the actor says, laughing. "It's no holds barred! He's fully committed to it, and I have no doubt he'll apply everything he does with his acting and his characters, I'm sure he'll apply the same thing to his directing as well. I wish all the best of luck to him, and if he wants to call me to be in it." As Rocky would say: Keep punching, Jamie.
— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jimmie Rhee
Without Remorse premieres April 30 on Prime Video
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