Sylvester Stallone didn’t initially want to do Creed. When future Black Panther director Ryan Coogler approached him with the idea of doing a Rocky spin-off about the son of Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed, an actor who’s repeatedly returned to his old beloved characters proved hesitant. Obviously he changed his mind, and the reward was some of the best reviews of his career and his first acting Oscar nomination since the original Rocky. He returned for 2018’s sequel, but will he back for Creed III?
The answer, revealed earlier this year, is no. Neither Stallone nor Michael B. Jordan — who also directed the forthcoming threequel — went into specifics about the reason for Rocky being AWOL. But Jordan intimated that it was Stallone’s idea.
“I think that Sly let it be known that he wasn’t coming back for this one but I think, you know, his essence and his spirit… there’s always going to be a little bit of Rocky within Adonis,” Jordan told IGN in April. “But this is a Creed franchise, and we really want to build this story and this world around him moving forward. So, it’s always respect and always a shit-ton of love for what he’s built, but we really want to push and navigate Adonis forward and the family that he created. So, hopefully you guys will love what I’m thinking… what we’re cooking up. I think it’s going to be something special.”
Stallone has been saying he was done playing Rocky Balboa, the character that made his name, and while Creed II stopped short of giving him a death scene, it did end on a lovely, bittersweet farewell. Since exiting the franchise (at least for now), he’s still weighed in on it. Over the summer, when it was announced that Viktor Drago — the son of Dolph Lundgren’s Rocky IV opponent Ivan Drago and the adversary of Creed II — might be getting his own spinoff. The news sent Stallone into a tailspin, which inspired Lundgren himself to try and talk him down.
The Rocky-less Creed III hits theaters on March 3, 2023.