“Creed III” director and star Michael B. Jordan made sure to inject as many anime influences into his new film as possible.
In a recent interview with PolygonJordan, 36, revealed how much of “Creed III” was inspired by various anime he grew up watching.
In the ninth installment of the “Rocky” franchise, Jordan returns to his role as heavyweight boxing champion Adonis Creed, the son of legendary athlete Apollo Creed. This time, Adonis faces off against an old childhood friend who mysteriously appears out of nowhere: Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson, played by “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” star Jonathan Majors.
Jordan shared that as the two boxers duke it out, one particular action shot of them simultaneously punching each other with a crossed counterpunch was influenced by the anime. “Naruto” — specifically episode 450 of “Naruto Shippuden.”
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The fight between Creed and Damian was supposed to be an even fight, and on an emotionally high place where these two men both bared their souls to each other. The emotional level they were on, where they came from, the emotions between those two characters. That’s when I leaned in with that scene from “Naruto.”
Jordan shared that he is watching anime every day, so much so that certain action scenes are burned into his memory.
While developing the dynamic between Creed and Damian, Jordan also referred to the time-tested theme of heroes being challenged by a rival or friend.
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He was particularly inspired by anime relationships such as those of Goku and Vegeta “Dragon Ball Z,” Ed and Alphonse van “Full Metal Alchemist” and Bakugo and Midoriya van “My Hero Academia.”
They repackage these feelings and beats and emotions in different ways through different styles of animation. I’m watching “Blue Lock” right now – which is dope as f*ck – which is all about these characters’ ego, developing their skills and devouring different styles and beating others to evolve and grow.
Jordan also shared that another reference to “Naruto Shippuden” was “the biggest anime swing” in “Creed III.”
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To convey Creed and Damian’s conflict, Jordan decided to use the idea of the void, where two characters find themselves in a space outside of a physical realm, talking to each other about their emotions or desires.
When Sasuke acknowledged that Kurama [the nine-tailed fox] was in Naruto and was like, “Oh, this is what you’ve got inside you? This is what’s inside you? No, we’re about to shut down all that shit.” They went to that room. I was like, “Oh man, that would be dope if I could figure out a way to get these two guys into a void,” and that’s where they really fought their last battle. It wasn’t about anyone else – it wasn’t about anyone else watching the fight. It was about these two guys who emotionally couldn’t say what they had to say with their words, so they had to get it out physically by fighting. So that idea evolved into revisiting their childhood trauma and making it even more like performance art.
When asked why anime resonates so deeply with him, Jordan mentioned Goku’s resilience and a Saiyan’s ability to always come back stronger, even in death.
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I think that resilience, that attitude of never giving up, is what I connect with, and I love that. I think Goku’s humble nature, his disarming nature coupled with his ability to be ready for whatever happens when his back is against the wall, is truly inspiring. He always rises to every challenge.
Jordan also points out Naruto’s character, who manages to keep his promises, holds no grudges, and keeps smiling despite being treated like an outcast.
The “Black Panther” star sees the character’s nine-tailed demon fox as a symbol of inner strength. He’s also considering Shikamaru and Rock Lee are his other favorite “Naruto” characters – he is especially moved by Lee’s character, who was born with limitations and is underrated in achieving his goals of surpassing his own limits and strength.
So for me, [Naruto] is about promises. The importance of keeping your promises, of being able to say “I’m sorry”, the importance of the bonds and friendships you make when you get there. I could go on and on in many different ways, but I think these are the ones that stand out to me the most, and why I think they resonate with a lot of other people as well.
Jordan notably made headlines after the release of Marvel’s “Black Panther” in February 2018 after fans discovered how much of an anime lover he is.
Countless social media users shared memes and hilarious posts about it Jordan is a “weaboo.”