Creed III Was A Major Opportunity For Michael B. Jordan To 'Expand' The Universe

Amazingly enough, the ninth entry in the "Rocky" franchise and the third (and final?) entry to the "Creed" saga is hitting theaters this weekend in the form of "Creed III." Directed by star Michael B. Jordan, who has played Adonis Creed since this trilogy kicked off in 2015 (read out interview with him here), this is a wholly unique entry amongst the long-running boxing series. Primarily because it's the first time that Sylvester Stallone will not be appearing as Rocky Balboa. That difference did, however, allow Jordan to expand the universe in his feature directorial debut.

Jordan recently spoke with MovieMaker and, for the most part, dodged the Stallone/Rocky of it all saying, "It's important to have Adonis grow up. Adonis had to grow up, man." Beyond that, though, the actor and director felt he had a great handle on where the story can and should go, with or without Mr. Balboa.

"I felt like with Creed III, it was knowing that I had the best handle and insight on this character and this world because I lived with it the longest. And where I was in my life, the things that I was going through just being 35 years old — 32 at the time; s*** I guess I was 32 — I wanted to tell this story. I know where I want the Creed family to go and I have ideas and thoughts of where the franchise can go and how to expand the Creed-verse as we call it. I wanted to take this IP and these characters on a ride and expand that universe."

The maybe messy future of Rocky and Creed

As for what that expansion means? Maybe it's just "Creed III" where these characters end up, or maybe it's a future "Creed IV." Whatever the case, Jordan seems confident that he was able to steer the ship without Stallone. Though that does leave us in an interesting place when it comes to the future, as it has the potential to get a little messy. Stallone has called his lack of participation in the current entry a "regretful situation," while acknowledging that he would have taken the story in a different direction.

The other important thing to note is that Stallone has actively been calling out longtime series producer Irwin Winkler (though not directly by name), expressing his frustration with the fact that he doesn't own a piece of the "Rocky" rights, despite the fact that he is very largely responsible for turning it into a $1.5 billion franchise at the box office. He even had ideas for a version of "Rocky VII" that will never come to be. So, have we seen the end of Rocky on screen? Is it purely Creed's show from here on out? Could we have dueling "Rocky" and "Creed" movies? That last one seems unlikely, I must admit. Whatever the case, expansion of the franchise could mean leaving Rocky Balboa behind.

"Creed III" hits theaters on March 3.