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Survivor's Guilt Played A Major Role In Developing Creed III

"Creed III" marks a first for the "Rocky" franchise. This will be the first picture not featuring Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, the scrappy Philadelphia fighter who kicked off this franchise back in 1976. On top of leading nearly every film, Stallone wrote and directed many installments, but the filmmaker has gone through a public falling out with "Rocky" producer Irwin Winkler over the rights of the franchise. As odd as it sounds since Stallone created the "Rocky" franchise, the franchise is moving on in more ways than one, including creatively.

Adonis Creed actor Michael B. Jordan sat in the director's chair for "Creed III" and he's thrown an arguably darker spin on the franchise. A successful and comfortable Adonis is confronted by a forgotten childhood friend, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) seeking to tear down Adonis' world and take his place as champion. Stallone himself suggested "Creed III" was a little darker than where he would have taken the franchise. 

"I wish them well, but I'm much more of a sentimentalist. I like my heroes getting beat up, but I just don't want them going into that dark space. I just feel people have enough darkness," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2022. 

The force driving Adonis to such a dark space is survivor's guilt, according to Jordan. 

Adonis and Damian are two sides of the same coin

While promoting "Creed III" with The British Blacklist, Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors discussed how many of their conversations about their characters had to do with survivor's guilt, something Adonis Creed feels as Damian returns into his life like a wrecking ball, ready to take everything from Adonis because he feels he deserves it more. Jordan described Adonis and Damian as two sides of a coin, blurring the lines of hero and villain. 

"[They are] two sides of a conversation. Two perspectives. It's not just black and white and there's a lot of grey area within that and we wanted to play in the gray area," Jordan said. He also stressed that survivor's guilt played a big part in the film's creation, given how he wanted Adonis to be at a point where he's questioning whether he deserves all the good things that have happened to him in his life.

The "Rocky" franchise has its fair share of famous villains, from Clubber Lang (Mr. T) in 1982's "Rocky III" and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in 1985's "Rocky IV" and 2018's "Creed II," and Damian is as ruthless as the best of them. According to "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" star Majors, the antagonist serves as a real threat because he's the flip side of survivor's guilt.

"Adonis is coming from a certain place of [survivor's] guilt and then you have Damian coming from a place of 'why not me?' There's 'why me' and 'why not me,'" he said.