I quite like the Rocky movies and think that there is not a single dud among them. Thus, I was not initially opposed to the spinoff Creed, with focuses on Adonis “Donnie” Creed, the ret-conned adopted son of Rocky’s long-time rival Apollo Creed. The first two movies in this series were quite shallow but watchable but there is clearly a downward trend. The roided up protagonist looks comical, and “the message” gets pushed harder and harder. My expectations for Creed III were not high, and they were not met.
Creed III tells an extremely simple story, in fact it is an insultingly simple one. Donnie is retired and runs a boxing gym. He trains the current world champion Chavez who is supposed to fight against the son of Drago whom we have met in some of the Rocky movies. Oh, Drago will also get his spin-off series. Hollywood is really working overtime to get your shekels. Anyway, the movie ret-cons a brotha named “Diamond” into young Adonis’s life. “Diamond” pulls the gun on someone, gets locked up for two decades, but now he has served his time and is ready to get what was taken from him. Diamond, a dude in his early 40s, becomes world champion in a serious of unlikely events: One of his gang members breaks Drago Jr.’s hand and Diamond steps in, beating Chavez. Of course, there is a rematch, which Donnie emerges victorious from, and that it is. I found the movie incredibly predictable but perhaps it was made with an audience in mind that is checking their phone constantly. It genuinely felt like a movie made for a low-IQ crowd.
Creed III has an almost fully non-white cast. Whites basically serve only as punching bags. It is not enough to only have blacks in the movie, though. There is also a boxing trainer, a white woman, which gave me a chuckle. The movie also makes a mockery out of the story arc of Donnie’s lover, that singer named Bianca. The first two movies made a big deal out of her hearing loss, but in Creed III the camera briefly shows her hearing aid, and that is it. Hearing loss is no longer an issue for her. Her daughter is still deaf, though.
The scenes with Donnie and Bianca’s black, deaf, and somewhat deformed daughter make me wonder if they serve as an attempt at setting her up as the protagonist of yet another spin-off, albeit I wonder how interested the audience would be in watching her story. But to recap, her origin story is that she gets bullied by a white girl — who else? — and beats her up in response. The bullying is utterly bizarre. The white girl takes a drawing of the black girl for absolutely no reason at all and slowly tears it into two pieces. This is not at all how girls bully each other, though, but it would be too much to ask for an inkling of realism in a movie for modern audiences. Of course, after the bullying incident, the parents get very upset when the racist school principal blames the black girl for punching the mean white bully.
In later scenes, Donnie’s disabled black daughter who does not conform to traditional beauty standards is seen watching his father’s fights and shadow boxing, aping his moves. Later on, he even teaches her. I am sure that there are plans for launching another spin-off movie series that focuses only on her. Her scenes basically look like those post-credit Marvel movie scenes that set up the next sequel in that never ending series. I wonder how well that movie would do, though, and now that some Hollywood studios have suffered enormous financial blows due to pushing “the message” a bit too hard, Deaf Baby Girl Creed probably will not get immediately green-lit. Still, when I watched Creed III, I was appalled at this utterly crude insertion of those scenes. Hollywood managed to ruin billion-dollar franchises such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, so it will surely also manage to run Rocky into the ground. It it does not happen with Creed IV and beyond, it will happen with Drago or Deaf Baby Girl Creed.