How Creed III Is Bringing Disability Accessibility To The Rocky Franchise

There were plenty of justifiable skeptics when it was announced the "Rocky" franchise was going to continue with "Creed," but heading into its third film, the initial naysayers have all been humbled. The story of Adonis "Donnie" Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the so-called illegitimate son of the late and former world champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), is as deeply complicated and moving as the original series starring Sylvester Stallone, but thrives beyond sports movie tropes and motivational montages. The "Creed" series performs a powerful dance, one that intertwines the beloved legacy of a film series with a wholly unique story, as well as one that weaves the violence of sport and street survival as equally important. As with any good "Rocky" film, the "Creed" series also introduced a powerful successor to Adrian Balboa (Talia Shire), with the talented musician Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson) becoming someone worth fighting for.

Bianca lives with progressive hearing loss, something Adonis learns almost immediately upon meeting her. She's the one to convince him to use his father's name when he fights, and eventually becomes his fiance and the mother of their daughter, Amara. "Creed II" showed that Amara inherited her mother's condition and was born deaf, which is initially a difficult reality for the couple to process. Bianca is devastated that Amara would never be able to share her love of music, while Adonis is fearful of how difficult life already is without any added obstacles. Now, with "Creed III" heading to theaters in the spring of 2023, and Amara no longer a baby, the "Creed" series is on a quest to normalize living without hearing.

Turning an obstacle into a superpower

During a press conference attended by our own Rafael Motamayor, "Creed III' titular star and director Michael B. Jordan talked about the inclusion of disability accessibility into the storyline, and the importance of American Sign Language (ASL). "I think naturally it was the right evolution of Creed's family," he said. He cited the evolution of Bianca's character learning ASL in "Creed" as a preventative measure in case she ever fully lost her hearing to their child being born deaf as the key steps toward the "Creed III" representation. "How do they grow? How do they deal with that obstacle and turn it into a superpower?" he asked rhetorically. "It's a community of people that didn't really get true representation as much as they should and we use this as an opportunity to do that."

"Learning ASL and normalizing it was a really big deal for us," Jordan said. The entertainment industry has been making impressive strides in its portrayal of Deaf communities, with the brilliant "CODA" winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and the Cartoon Network series "Craig of the Creek" introducing a character and family that communicates using Black ASL. Mila Davis-Ken, a Deaf actress, was cast as Amara Creed, and the production team brought in interpreters and plenty of resources to make sure "Creed III" was portraying the Deaf community as accurately as possible. "Hopefully in watching this movie, you feel it," said Jordan.

"Creed III" hits theaters on March 3, 2023.