By Brier Evans
Editor In Chief
What does it mean to be a man? At what point do we address the issue of toxic masculinity within the Black community? Black men for centuries have been taught to be tough. They have been told to hide their emotions and vulnerability to be seen as ‘manly’ in society. However, through these emotional limitations, Black men can struggle with understanding themselves and working through their trauma and pain. When do Black men finally allow themselves to heal?
Actor Michael B. Jordan explores these themes in his latest film, Creed III. The film is the third installment of the Creed franchise and marks the directorial debut for Jordan.
“I wanted it [the film] to feel like an origin story, a sequel and a trilogy all in one,” Jordan said at an exclusive Creed III press conference for student media reporters at Historically Black Universities and Colleges on Feb. 23 in Atlanta, Ga.. “To do so we had to go back into Adonis’ past. Those childhood traumas. Those moments that really shaped us as people,” Jordan added.
The film follows Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) in a life of retirement, after dominating the boxing world. Creed becomes a family man, with his wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and his 10-year-old daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). He is in charge of his own boxing gym where he trains and produces professional-level fighters. While Creed is living his seemingly perfect life, he is confronted by a former childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Jonathan Majors), who has just completed an 18-year-long prison sentence and is set on championing the boxing world by any means necessary. Unable to go forgive and resolve their childhood trauma, the two men fight in a championship battle with their titles, pride, and relationship on the line.
“It’s okay to talk about your past. It’s okay to talk about things that make you uncomfortable,” Jordan said. “We had Adonis go through all those things and show what it looks like when you don’t talk, and what could happen and how that affects the people around you,” Jordan added.
Jordan invited several colleges and universities including Xavier University of Louisiana, Howard University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and other HBCUs to an early screening of the film at the Regal Atlantic Station movie theatre in Atlanta. The press conference took place earlier that day at the St. Regis Hotel where Jordan was joined by co-stars Majors, and Davis-Kent.
“The amount of heart and ambition and drive that kind of lives in the Creed franchise,” said Majors in a response for what drew him to the film. “It’s different this go-around … and I was humbled to join.”
Majors is often seen on the big screen playing strong and complex characters. In recent years he has been involved in critically-acclaimed films and series’ such as “Lovecraft Country,” “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” and “The Harder They Fall.” More recently he starred in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” and “Devotion.”
“This artform, this career, this life was a metaphor for me. It was survival. For me there was nothing else I wanted to do or had ambition or drive for. My purpose was to do this,” Majors added.
It is not often that HBCUs or young Black writers are invited to film screenings and to the press tour for the release of a film. Many times Black students do not get invited to be the first reviewers or the first critics of a film that’s targeted toward young, Black audiences.
“In key positions, there’s not a lot of us [Black people], in positions that really move the needle. I feel like that’s a lack of a pipeline,” Jordan said in the press conference. “To be able to start laying the tracks for that, in a real way, starting off with the places that I can. That’s like no-brainers for me,” Jordan added.
The Creed franchise, with the introduction of Bianca – Adonis’s love interest who suffers from degenerative hearing loss – has always included elements of representation of the deaf community. With their daughter, Amara, who is fully deaf and communicates with her parents through American Sign Language, the third installment humanizes the deaf community and offers audiences a rare perspective into the realities of deaf families.
“Inclusivity means that we can be a part of it. We want deaf people look at this and feel proud to be a part of the deaf community,” signed Kent-Davis in the press conference, with assistance from her ASL interpreter. “Deaf people, and Black deaf people especially, can see this movie and realize that there’s our representation and that they can do anything they put their mind to. They can be like anybody else,” added Kent-Davis.
Creed III premiered nationwide on March 3, 2023, with a global release that kicked off on March 1, 2023.
“I had a chance to be a part of my own legacy and, you know, I took it seriously. I didn’t look at this as a just-so-happen. I was supposed to be here. I was supposed to be doing this,” Jordan said.