While training, Adonis wears a shirt with the message "Why do I wanna fight? Because I can't sing and dance..." This was a line from Rocky to Adrian on their ice skating date in the first Rocky (1976).
Just as the film was entering pre-production, Sylvester Stallone's oldest son Sage Stallone died of a heart attack. Stallone has admitted that the loss almost sent him into a full breakdown, but Ryan Coogler was eventually able to convince him to use the film as a dedication to Sage, focusing specifically on the father-son relationships that appear in it. Although initially resistant, Stallone said at the Golden Globes that Creed helped him cope with Sage's death.
Sylvester Stallone revealed on a talk show that in all of his Rocky films there had been at least one instance of him being knocked down for real, which in a sense had become something of a "tradition" for the franchise. Upon learning about this, Michael B. Jordan agreed to deliberately shoot such a case for this film, citing "If you can take it, so can I", thus keeping the "tradition" alive.
Portraying Rocky's physical deterioration was a humbling experience for Sylvester Stallone. "When you sit in the chair and you come as one person and then you open your eyes an hour and a half later and you've been transformed to a person who's not healthy... it's very relatable," the 69-year-old said. "This is what people live through every day... it made me definitely realize the clock is ticking."
The Olympic Gold Medal that Danny 'Stuntman' Wheeler (Andre Ward) shows off in the HBO promo scene is real and belongs to the actor/boxer. He won the Light heavyweight at the 2004 summer games in Athens.
Sylvester Stallone was initially apprehensive about revisiting. "I said, 'No, no, no'. It was a struggle to get the last one done and I was so happy with Rocky Balboa (2006) and the conclusion of Rocky's story that I thought, 'We don't need to go any further with it.' I dismissed his idea." But it was the director's persistence that led him to reconsider.
There are numerous extended shots in the film, which Cinematographer Maryse Alberti said help penetrate the inherent manipulation of filmmaking. The most celebrated example is an entire 2-round boxing match captured in a single steadicam shot. No post-production stitching was used: "Everybody thinks we're cheating, but that is one shot," Alberti said in Variety. The scene was filmed with an Arri Alexa by steadicam operator, Benjamin Semanoff. Director Ryan Coogler shot 13 takes of the sequence, with the 11th take being the one used in the final film.
Michael B. Jordan credits Sylvester Stallone with putting him at ease while he joined a cinematic legacy. "Sly did the biggest thing for me, which was to take that pressure off of me... to not worry about competing or living up to what the other Rocky films were - just to be myself."
Following in the tradition of his father Apollo, Adonis is named after a character in Greek mythology. Whereas Apollo was named after the Greek sun god, Adonis is named after the demi-god of beauty and desire.
Ryan Coogler wanted to uphold the series' father/son theme. "It's a sport where you need to lean on other people," the filmmaker said. "You see fighters have this bond with their trainer. We saw it with Tyson and Cus D'amato. We saw it with Rocky and Mick. It's a very special bond. We wanted to capture that."
The first movie not featuring the characters of Paulie (played by Burt Young) and Apollo's former trainer Tony "Duke" Evers (played by Tony Burton), and the second not featuring Talia Shire as Adrian (although flashbacks of Adrian did appear in Rocky Balboa (2006)).
Tessa Thompson worked with Ryan Coogler to make sure her role was more than just that of the love interest. "Ryan really wanted to show a girlfriend character in the context of a sports movie that was complicated, that had her own life and own dreams," the actress said. "I think that's something we hope women can relate to."
The (fictional) Delphi Boxing Academy in Los Angeles is advertised as "the home of Apollo Creed." Delphi is a site in Greece that was dedicated to the god Apollo after he was said to have slain a dragon there. Appropriately in Liverpool Adonis Creed stays at the Adelphi Hotel (visible from the symbol on his hotel room pillow), a variation on the name meaning 'place of the brothers'.
Rocky's quote to Adonis before Leo "The Lion" Sporino fight, "There is no tomorrow" is the same quote which is said to Rocky by Apollo Creed during the training before Clubber Lang fight in Rocky III (1982).
Tessa Thompson, who plays musician Bianca in the film, is a musician in real life. She has produced music as part of the electro band Caught a Ghost, and wrote three songs used on the Creed soundtrack ('Grip', 'Breathe' and 'Shed You').
Michael B. Jordan gained twenty four pounds of muscle by working out two to three times a day, six days a week, adhered to a strict diet for almost a year and since he didn't have a body double, he had to learn how to box in preparation for his role.
With the release of this film, the only character to appear in all of the films set in the Rocky universe is Rocky himself (in second place are Paulie (Burt Young) and Tony "Duke" Evers (Tony Burton) who previously appeared in the six films prior to this one).
Some crowd scenes were shot at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England during half-time of the Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion Premier League fixture on January 19, 2015. Stallone and Bellew, who is a native Evertonian, are avid fans of the club. Bellew also wore the club's badge and its blue and white colors on his trunks when he fought Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park.
Much like Rocky (1976) and Rocky Balboa (2006), this film heavily reflects the circumstances under which it was made, in this case Sylvester Stallone finally handing the reins of the franchise he created and has nurtured for forty years over to a fresh new talent who can help it stay alive by taking it in a new direction.
Of the characters who have died in the series (Mickey, Apollo, Adrian, and Paulie), Burgess Meredith is the only actor to have actually died. Though Tony Burton (Duke who goes unmentioned) died shortly after the film's release.
Throughout multiple scenes Michael B. Jordan can be seen wearing a jacket with XXIV on the back. This is a Kobe Bryant-branded Nike jacket and he is a legend from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sylvester Stallone is the 3rd actor in Oscar history to receive both lead and supporting Academy Award nominations for playing the same character. Barry Fitzgerald was nominated Best Actor and won Best Supporting Actor for playing Father Fitzgibbon in "Going My Way" (1944). Al Pacino was nominated Best Supporting Actor for "The Godfather" (1972) and "The Godfather Part II" (1974) for playing Michael Corleone; and Stallone was nominated Best Actor for "Rocky" (1976) and Best Supporting Actor for "Creed" (2015) for playing Rocky Balboa.
Fruitvale Station (2013) helped Ryan Coogler's sophomore effort get the greenlight. The acclaimed indie caught the attention of producer Irwin Winkler, who at first wasn't interested in another Rocky installment but changed his mind after seeing the award-winning drama.
The placement of the names of Donnie's shorts have an important psychological effect. The word CREED faces his opponent who would then think about his father's heavyweight legacy, while the back says JOHNSON for the cameras and audiences to build Donnie's own legacy.
The Swedish born Ludwig Göransson, who also scored Fruitvale Station (2013), worked to find a contemporary soundtrack that mirrored the iconic songs from the previous films. He also focused on giving Adonis his own theme.
The place that Adonis and Bianca go to eat is a well-known place for Cheesesteaks called 'Max", located on the corner of Germantown and Erie Avenues. This is the same place 'Kevin Hart' shot some of his opening scenes of Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (2011) where Kevin purchased steaks for the customers in the store at the time of filming.
The first fight scene where little Adonis first appears in the movie, when he is separated from the other kid he's beating up, the way he's grabbed and carried by the waist and his gestures resemble a scene where Apollo is separated from Rocky in Rocky (1976).
Ryan Coogler, who grew up watching the Rocky films with his family, wanted to tell a personal story much like he did with Fruitvale Station (2013). The built-in fanbase and pop culture appeal was a bonus.
When Adonis is fighting 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan, his name is announced as Adonis 'Hollywood' Creed; 'Hollywood' was the real nickname of Tony Burton who played Tony 'Duke' Evers, Apollo's corner man/trainer in the earlier Rocky films.
In 1969, football coach Don Coryell coached Phylicia Rashad's movie husband Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) for San Diego State University. In 1973, he coached her former real-life husband (Ahmad Rashad) for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Michael B. Jordan's character quotes a line from The Godfather (1972), a film in which Talia Shire co-starred. Shire also plays Adrian, Rocky's wife, in previous films. Also, Joe Spinell, who played Tony Gazzo in the first two Rocky films, played Willie Cicci in the first two Godfather films.
The word "yes" is a recurring element for Bianca's character. When she opens the door for Adonis to enter her apartment for the first time, there's alphabetical artwork just behind Bianca as Adonis enters. There are letters Y E and S on the wall in vertical positions. The second appearance of "yes" is a tattoo on her wrist, especially clearly visible when she is with Rocky and Donnie just prior to the final fight.
When Adonis is watching the Conan vs. Wheeler Face Off on Sport Center the "Ticker" down low shows that the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angelas Clippers 113-86. Director Ryan Coogler was born in Oakland and grew up in the Bay Area and is a fan of the Golden State Warriors.
This is the first in the series to get a PG-13 rating since Rocky V (1990). Unlike Rocky V, Creed receives a 12A certificate in the United Kingdom. Rocky Balboa (2006) also carries this certificate, despite the "PG" rating in the United States.
In Paulie's room when Rocky talks about his son moving to Vancouver, there is a photo of Sylvester Stallone as a younger Rocky and a very young Sage Stallone, Sylvester's oldest son. Ryan Coogler urged a reluctant Stallone to give him the picture since he thought it wouldn't be right not to have a representation of Sage in the movie. Stallone admitted that he personally views the film as a dedication to Sage, who played Rocky's son in Rocky V (1990). He died in July 13, 2012, at 36.
The ending differs from a script that Sylvester Stallone uploaded on Twitter. Adonis was winning the fight in the script dated December 28th, 2014. In the finished movie, the ending closely resembles the finale of Rocky (1976): like Rocky Balboa, Adonis Creed loses the fight itself, but emerges morally victorious by holding out against an established champion, and earning his respect.
In the film 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan is the WBC Light Heavyweight Champion. In the film he puts his title on the line against Adonis Creed. In real life the actor/boxer who plays him, 'Tony 'Bomber' Bellew', fought for the WBC Light Heavyweight title losing to Adonis Stevenson by TKO in the 6th round, but he would move up in weight class and go on to win the WBC Cruiserweight title at Goodison Park (which hosts the climactic film fight between Donnie and Conlan) in May 2016 by KO in the 3rd round. It marked the first outdoor boxing match in Liverpool since 1949.
One deleted scene shows Adonis admiring his father's boxing memorabilia, which include paintings, newspaper clippings and photos of Apollo. The headline of a Los Angeles Times sports page from April 6, 1982 reads "Apollo Creed Trains Former Rival". If the date is read closely, it is seen as Wednesday April 6, 1982, yet April 6, 1982 was a Tuesday.