Michael B. Jordandirector of Creed III (which was released in theaters last Friday) and also its lead actor, spoke in an interview with HOT97 about the decision to exclude Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) from the movie.

This will be the first time the iconic character has been absent from the franchise, having appeared in some capacity in every episode since 1976.

Jordan said, “Sly and Rocky’s DNA runs through the whole franchise, you can’t make these movies without him. I think that underdog spirit connects with the underdog in all of us.”

“I think what we love most about these movies is that we see someone going through hardship, who is able to rise from the ashes and reach the top of the mountain, and we connect to that.”

Jordan went on to explain how this character now has to live independently like Adonis, and the direction he’s taking to build the character in his own right.

Creed 3 sees Jordan Creed’s Adonis take on Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), who is a friend who returns from Adonis’ troubled past seeking revenge. Jordan said:

“I want Adonis to be autonomous. To do that, we had to go back in time. What were those years of transformation, those childhood traumas that shaped the Adonis of today? The space for this story was really this Adonis Creed for him to move on with his family, and move on.”

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