Creed III: Sylvester Stallone Addresses Not Returning as Rocky

When Creed III premieres in March it may well be bringing back most of the cast of this spinoff from the Rocky franchise, but perhaps the largest figure in the room will be absent, Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa. Though there had been talk for some time previously that Stallone would be making an appearance it has since been confirmed that he won't appear in the new movie. Speaking in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stallone was asked if it will be "weird" for him to not appear in the film and gave a candid answer about Rocky's absence.

"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."

It's unclear what exactly about Creed III Stallone believes is a "dark space" that the sequel is getting into. We know that the central plot of the sequel will see Michael B. Jordan's Adonis reuniting with an old childhood friend, Jonathan Majors as Damian "Dame" Anderson, who has gotten out of prison after a near two-decade sentence. Of note is that the Creed feature films have not shied away from exploring modern social issues through the lens of Adonis' rise as a boxer. 

Stallone has also been part of a one-sided but very public feud with franchise producer Irwin Winkler. When news came that they were considering a spinoff focusing on Russian boxer Ivan Drago, Stallone wrote in an Instagram post: "After Irwin Winkler and family suck Rocky dry. Presumed to be the most hated, untalented, decrepited [sic], producer in Hollywood and his cowardly children have found their next meal...Drago, return my rights Bloodsuckers!"

Did Rocky Die in Creed 2?

As fans may recall, Rocky was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Creed, but survived through to the events of Creed II. In the events of the 2018 sequel, Rocky's cancer was in remission. The film concluded on an even happier note for the character as he reunited with and reconciled with his estranged son, Rocky Jr. (Milo Ventimiglia), and finally got to meet his grandson, Logan. So yes, as far as we know, Rocky is still alive, just not present for Creed 3.