Is Rocky in Creed 3? Sylvester Stallone’s absence explained

Chris Tilly
Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed 3.

Creed 3 hits cinemas this week, with star Michael B. Jordan directing the latest instalment of the boxing franchise. But controversy has surrounded Sylvester Stallone’s involvement – or non-involvement – so read on to find out what’s happening with Rocky in the new Creed.

The Creed movies have spun off from the Rocky franchise in impressive fashion, receiving critical acclaim while doing big numbers at the box office. You can read our 4-star review of the new movie here.

Rocky Balboa plays a prominent part in the first two movies as Adonis Creed’s trainer, with Sylvester Stallone even earning himself an Academy Award nomination in the process.

But Stallone has long had a fractured relationship with Rocky and Creed producer Irwin Winkler, with the actor frequently venting his anger at his former collaborator on social media. That has had a knock-on effect with the new Creed movie.

Is Rocky in Creed 3?

No, Rocky is not in Creed 3. At least not in the flesh. The character is alluded to early in proceedings, when the film’s protagonist – Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) says to Adonis: “If Apollo Creed can take a chance on some underdog, why can’t you?” Which is a reference to the original Rocky, where Apollo gifted Balboa a title shot.

Then later in the movie, when Adonis is trying to secure Anderson his own title shot, he name-checks the Italian Stallion, asking: “Do you know how many people tuned in when Apollo fought Rock?”

But Rocky doesn’t appear in the movie, and his absence is never explained. Which is quite strange considering how much influence he’s had on Adonis over the previous two Creed instalments.

Why is Sylvester Stallone absent from the new Creed?

Sylvester Stallone is absent from Creed 3 due to the actor being unhappy with the film’s storyline, and the dark direction the franchise is heading in.

The Creed III screenplay is written by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin, from a story by Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler, and Zach Baylin. And the tale of a figure from Adonis’s past wanting revenge in the present is seemingly too negative for Stallone.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the star said: “That’s a regretful situation because I know what it could have been. It was taken in a direction that is quite different than I would’ve taken it.

“It’s a different philosophy — Irwin Winkler’s and Michael B. Jordan’s. 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.”

Stallone is listed as a producer in the end credits, but in that same interview, he bemoans the situation, stating: “I’m not an executive producer on the Creed movies. [Director] Ryan Coogler is. [Star] Michael B. Jordan is. [Winkler and Chartoff’s] children are. Not mine. I’m the only one left out.”

Creed III is released this Friday (March 3). You can find out if the film has any post-credit scenes here, or check out our list of the Greatest Boxing Movies here.

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About The Author

Chris Tilly is the TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Newspaper Journalism, and over the last 20 years, he's worked for the likes of Time Out, IGN, and Fandom. Chris loves Star Wars, Marvel, DC, sci-fi, and especially horror, while he knows maybe too much about Alan Partridge. You can email him here: