Home » ‘Creed III’ lets Black men be soft

‘Creed III’ lets Black men be soft

by The Grio

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Spoiler Alert: This review contains details for the plot of “Creed III”

In our homophobic, patriarchal culture, among the worst insults for Black men is to call them “soft.” It’s an adjective that calls into question the usefulness of a man’s masculinity if he cannot physically dominate and control, as is expected. In an unlikely twist, the Black boxing blockbuster franchise “Creed” turns that concept on its head.

Ever since Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” premiered in 2015 with a young Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the “Rocky” spinoff has specifically and intentionally explored what it means to be a Black man. Adonis has grown up institutionalized and fatherless after his famous boxer father, Apollo, died in the ring because he refused to stop fighting a dangerous opponent.

It’s a portrait of Black masculinity that Adonis internalized in “Creed,” fighting the world even to his detriment as his rage and grief over never knowing his father fuel his childhood stints in juvenile detention and his professional boxing career. It’s only when Adonis re-roots his masculinity in community, forgiveness and self-control, rather than the domination of others, that he begins to heal, forgive his father and reconnect with his trainer, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), his emerging singer girlfriend, Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and his adoptive mother (Phylicia Rashad).

In director Stephen Caple Jr.’s “Creed II,” Adonis has grown in size and stature from light-heavyweight to heavyweight champion of the world. At the height of this new physical power and status, he comes face to face with Drago, the son of his father’s killer. Despite Bianca and Rocky warning him that Drago is too dangerous to fight, Adonis once again falls prey to toxic masculinity, chooses his…

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