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creed 1 essay

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One need not be proficient in “ Rocky ” lore to appreciate “Creed,” but for those who have followed the exploits of Sylvester Stallone ’s Philadelphia boxer, Ryan Coogler ’s latest film pays unexpectedly rich emotional dividends. “Creed” is so reminiscent of the 1976 film that introduced us to Rocky Balboa that I sense newcomers will fall for “Creed”’s characters the way viewers fell for “Rocky”’s 40 years ago. Though 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” was a fitting final chapter for its titular hero, “Creed” finds more of his story to explore. In the process, the film reminds us that, employed by the right director, Sylvester Stallone can be a wonderful actor.

Coogler’s story, co-written with Aaron Covington , unabashedly mirrors the arc of the original “Rocky”. There’s the humble boxer, his mentor and the woman who becomes his significant other and rock of support. There is also the famous boxer who gives our hero the boxing match chance of a lifetime. Armed with these elements, “Creed” then tweaks them, playing on our expectations before occasionally surprising us. It may be easy to predict where the film takes us, but that doesn’t reduce the power and enormity of the emotional responses it gets from the audience. This is a crowd-pleaser that takes its time building its character-driven universe. There are as many quietly effective moments as there are stand-up-and-cheer moments, and they’re all handled with skill and dexterity on both sides of the camera.

Coogler’s direction leaves little doubt that “Creed” is writing a love letter to “Rocky” lore while also establishing an original narrative about its own creation, Adonis Creed ( Michael B. Jordan ). Coogler perfectly captures his intentions in an early conversation between Rocky and Donnie (as Adonis calls himself). Their talk is framed with Stallone and Jordan standing in front of a picture of Rocky and Adonis’ late father, Apollo Creed. Coogler fits his actors in the shot so that the background image serves as a flashback and a flash-forward; the screen contains Rocky’s past and Apollo’s future. Additionally, Stallone’s run-down physicality as the older version of Rocky stands in striking contrast to the boxer posing behind him, frozen in time. We’re moving forward, but the ghosts of the past are still coming with us.

“Creed” begins with Donnie’s past, where young, orphaned Adonis Johnson is visited in juvenile hall by Apollo Creed’s widow, Mary Anne (a fiercely maternal Phylicia Rashad ). Mary Anne adopts the young man, a product of an affair Apollo had before he was killed in the ring by Drago in “Rocky IV”. Though Mary Anne raises him as her own, Donnie’s resentment about being in the shadow of a famous man he never knew nor met grows as he ages. Yet he secretly engages in his father’s sport. “Creed” shows Donnie fighting in Mexico before returning to his office job in Los Angeles 12 hours later.

That Donnie has a white-collar job is interesting. It’s the opposite of Rocky’s blue-collar existence, and it reminded me of a line in the boxing documentary “ Champs ,” where an interview subject states that “ nobody rich ever took up boxing. ” Donnie has clearly benefited from the spoils of Apollo’s legacy, yet a childhood filled with scrapes with the law and constant fisticuffs leads him to quit his successful job for one where the odds for success are far more limited. Mary Anne points this out in an excellent speech where she details the more unsavory aspects of living with a boxer whose body took so much punishment that he could barely perform simple tasks like walking up stairs or cleaning himself. Donnie hears her, but the clarion call of the ring carries him off to Philly to seek out his Dad’s former rival and best friend, Rocky Balboa.

Donnie hopes that Rocky will train him, and sets out to convince the reluctant ex-boxer to do so. But Rocky is simply not interested in becoming a mentor to the up and coming boxer who affectionately calls him “Unc”. Rocky’s lack of interest remains even after Donnie reveals that he is Apollo Creed’s son. To bring new viewers up to speed, Rocky talks about the fight that cost Apollo his life, and how Rocky was in Apollo’s corner at the time. To return to the corner, even with a different boxer, is not on his list of things to do, partially out of guilt for Apollo, but mostly out of a general sense of exhaustion. “ I already had my time, ” he tells Donnie. Of course, Donnie wears him down and, despite some jealousy from a coach at Rocky’s late trainer Mickey’s old gym (who had hoped Rocky would train his son), Rocky takes on Donnie’s mentorship. This eventually leads to an offer to fight Liverpudlian boxing champ Pretty Ricky Conlan ( Tony Bellew ).

In parallel, Donnie also pitches woo to his downstairs neighbor Bianca ( Tessa Thompson ), a hearing-impaired singer and composer whose loud music keeps Donnie from getting the required sleep he needs for his training. Like Rocky’s beloved Adrian, Bianca is a fully fleshed out character whose agency is not undermined by her eventual devotion to our hero. Thompson, so good in “ Dear White People ”, is even better here, singing her own songs and verbally sparring with Jordan as quickly as the real-life boxers he faces throw punches at him. Coogler relishes his love story as much as his action sequences, basking in the glow of their romance. At one point, he employs an upside down shot of the duo, laying side by side and engaging in a quick kiss that’s chaste yet sweetly romantic. A later romantic scene is far more passionate, and feels well-earned thanks to the prior one.

“Creed” reminds us that, even at its most absurd, the “Rocky” series has always been about loss. Specifically, how these losses affect the characters and how they grow from them. This is expressed in Bianca’s desire to make as much music as possible before her hearing loss becomes total and permanent, but it’s also reflected in the character of Rocky himself. The genesis of this film stems from the most absurd of the Rocky movies, yet “Creed” stitches “Rocky IV” and all the other Rocky films into its narrative with surefooted grace. The method to this madness is explained in a haunting, beautiful speech delivered by Stallone, who points out the consequences of his losses, both personal and professional, how alone he is due to the deaths of everyone he has loved, and how he no longer has the will to fight. Beforehand, we see Rocky visiting the graves of Adrian and Paulie (on the latter’s tombstone, he places some booze), and the specter of Apollo’s death hangs over “Creed”. Rocky also tells Donnie that his son has little to do with him.

Rocky’s big speech comes after a scene where he gets some bad news (which I’ll not spoil). Watch how subtly Stallone plays his reaction—he turns the simple gesture of removing his hat into a powerful lament. Coogler loves the faces of his actors, to the point where he shoots one boxing match as an unbroken take focusing on his boxers’ punch-laden mugs. He also gets an achingly beautiful and subtle commentary out of brief shots of young, brown faces looking at and admiring Donnie as he trains. Like Rocky, Donnie may be a hero for all races, but these shots of young Black children add an extra dimension by showing us rare instances of African-American admiration of a hero onscreen.

“Creed” is at its most effective when Coogler’s camera stands by, patiently letting his actors connect with us. He favors shots where two actors occupy the screen, taking care to calibrate the space between them. As a result, we become intimately familiar with the lovely young visages of Jordan and Thompson, and the gloriously craggy face of Stallone, whose once equally youthful appearance has grown and aged like the faces of those of us who were present for his first turn as Rocky Balboa. Stallone brings us back to his first, Oscar-nominated turn as Rocky, and his intimate knowledge of his character shines through in every frame. He is really, really good here.

“Creed” gives us a new hero, and Jordan is excellent at portraying him. The star, who worked with Coogler on the superb “ Fruitvale Station ,” conveys the confusion that many young people have while forging and accepting their identities. The moment he owns up to his heritage is intertwined with the film’s rousing, climactic boxing match but does not depend on it as a means of Donnie’s acceptance. Coogler is masterful in these shots of sportsmanship, stirring the audience into a frenzy of excitement, and he knows exactly when to shamelessly plug in “Gonna Fly Now.” Donnie Creed also gets his own version of Rocky’s triumphant Philadelphia Museum stairs run scene, re-imagined here as a street jog surrounded by motorcycles. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Note where Coogler places Stallone in this sequence, as it is the most visual representation of what his film is doing with these characters.

Speaking of the Philadelphia Museum, “Creed” ends there with a scene guaranteed to wring a bucket of tears from fans of Rocky Balboa. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the reasons why “Creed” ends here, nor will I say who’s in the scene. But I will tell you this: The last shot of this film is a true thing of beauty. This is one of the best films of 2015.

Odie Henderson

Odie Henderson

Odie "Odienator" Henderson has spent over 33 years working in Information Technology. He runs the blogs Big Media Vandalism and Tales of Odienary Madness. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire  here .

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Film credits.

Creed movie poster

Creed (2015)

Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality.

132 minutes

Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

Graham McTavish as Tommy Holiday

Tessa Thompson as Bianca

Phylicia Rashād as Mary Anne Creed

Hans Marrero as Flores

Tony Bellew as 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan

Brian Anthony Wilson as James

Ritchie Coster as Pete Sporino

Jacob 'Stitch' Duran as Stitch

Malik Bazille as Amir

Wood Harris as Tony 'Little Duke' Burton

Gabe Rosado as Leo 'The Lion' Sporino

  • Ryan Coogler
  • Aaron Covington
  • Sylvester Stallone


  • Maryse Alberti
  • Claudia Castello
  • Michael P. Shawver

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What a relief Creed is. With a current cinematic landscape dominated by remakes, reboots and sequels, the initial idea of Creed just sounded so unnecessary. A pseudo-combination of a Rocky reboot that is a sequel whilst also working as a remake just felt like something we really didn’t need.

Jurassic World was a complete misfire, a film which seemed ashamed of the films that became before it, using its unofficial mascot (the T-Rex) at the end as fan service so audiences will leave the theatre with a nostalgia-driven whimsical feeling inside, forgetting the incoherent, bloated empty mess that had preceded it. The film’s cynical approach to the previous three films made it seem disrespectful towards the iconic films that Spielberg had made back in the 90’s.

The One-Two Punch

Whilst this must’ve been a hard decision for Stallone , to hand over his most important and personal film franchise to a newer, younger director, the gamble has paid off well. Much like the previous film Rocky Balboa , Coogler strips away the excess sentimentality and superficiality that diminished the Rocky sequels and goes for an old-school approach.

Growing up in a wealthy household (propped up by his late father’s money) and getting a successful, but boring financial job, Donnie has grown up with a built-in fascination with the sport of boxing. One aspect that the film needed to flesh out more is exactly why Donnie has such a passion for boxing, outside for it being his father’s job.

The film starts quite quickly, with Donnie quitting his job, giving us no context as to exactly why he chooses to quit his job so quickly or what internal decisions led up to this. Creed  treats his decision as something that needs to be done quickly and urgently, but contextually within the film there’s no reason for it. Just an extra scene could’ve really established this at the beginning and given us a sense of Donnie living in an environment that makes him unhappy.

Rocky, still a legend around Philadelphia, still runs Adrian’s Restaurant, but has become sadly alone again due to the death of Paulie between now and the events of Rocky Balboa . Still regularly visiting the gravestones of Adrian and Paulie, Rocky has accepted his life and ready to exit as he’s lost everything that’s been important to him – his friends and family. His son, Robert Balboa ( Milo Ventimiglia ) has moved to Canada, leaving Rocky alone in Philadelphia.

I’ll Forgive The Boxing Puns

Whilst this film is the potential set-up for a new series of films based on Donnie Creed, this is still a Rocky sequel as well and Stallone returns to the role perfectly. This must’ve been quite a risky endeavour for Stallone – making a Rocky film where he is truly not in control any more, within the film and behind the camera. The film reflects that sentiment though, as whilst Rocky is revered for his past success, age has really hit him and he’s longer the dominant man.

The defining character trait of Rocky Balboa is that whilst accomplishing his dream of being a famous boxer, the great success achieved at the end of Rocky  is not the boxing match, but the fact that Rocky is finally together with Adrian, the love of his life. Their relationship has defined the franchise, as Rocky is quite a loyal, loving character, whose life is twisted by success and the various characters around him. Creed  luckily understands this arc of Rocky’s character, as Rocky is quite a lonely humble man now that he’s alone again. The introduction of Donnie Creed lights that passion inside Rocky again, not because he’s boxing again, but because he’s become a father figure to Donnie, able to be part of a family again.

Apart from Stallone , the full cast is consistently tremendous, with Michael B Jordan solidifying himself as a Hollywood leading man, showing the aggressiveness of Apollo Creed but combining it with the thoughtfulness of Rocky Balboa, a unique mix of the two icons in his life. Earlier this year, Jordan  copped a lot of grief (alongside his co-stars) for the cinematic misfire Fantastic Four , but with this film, he crushes any wrong-doings Fantastic Four might’ve caused.

If more spinoffs and reboots were like Creed,  I don’t think people would be as cynical about every old property that’s brought back to try and make more money. Whilst Coogler  showed potential with his debut feature Fruitvale Station,  he shows with Creed that he has the chops to have a great career in Hollywood. Between his rhythmic editing and interesting cinematography choices, the film never slows down or feels tired, using the old story beats from the original Rocky as foundations that he has modernized and built upon.

The entire cast, especially Stallone , brings their A-game in a film which could spawn an entirely new franchise, but I’d be perfectly happy if no sequels happened either. It’s quite refreshing to see a mainstream film with established characters that doesn’t feel like it’s constant set-up for an inevitable sequel or something that will spawn tons of merchandise.

Is there any other successful Hollywood spin-off films that you can think of?

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Alex is a 28 year-old West Australian who has a slight obsession with film.

creed 1 essay

  • Cast & crew
  • User reviews

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed (2015)

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

  • Ryan Coogler
  • Aaron Covington
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Michael B. Jordan
  • Tessa Thompson
  • 629 User reviews
  • 476 Critic reviews
  • 82 Metascore
  • 45 wins & 65 nominations total

Trailer #2

  • Adonis Johnson

Sylvester Stallone

  • Rocky Balboa

Tessa Thompson

  • Mary Anne Creed

Andre Ward

  • Danny 'Stuntman' Wheeler

Tony Bellew

  • 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan

Ritchie Coster

  • Pete Sporino

Jacob 'Stitch' Duran

  • Tommy Holiday

Gabe Rosado

  • Leo 'The Lion' Sporino
  • (as Gabriel Rosado)

Wood Harris

  • Tony 'Little Duke' Burton
  • Conlan's Cut Man

Rupal Pujara

  • Dr. Kathari

Brian Anthony Wilson

  • Sporino Cut Man

Johanna Tolentino

  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

More like this

Creed II

Did you know

  • Trivia 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.
  • Goofs After leaving the dressing room to enter the arena at Goodison Park, Merseyside, England, an American exit sign with red text can be seen above the door. UK exit signs are green with a pictorial of a man and a door. This was clearly not shot it the UK.

Rocky Balboa : [Creed takes cell phone photo of boxing drills and walks off] Hey don't you want this?

Adonis Johnson : [Holds out cell phone] It's on this.

Rocky Balboa : What if you lose it?

Adonis Johnson : It's already in the cloud.

Rocky Balboa : [Looks in sky confused] What cloud?

  • Crazy credits Only movie in the Rocky series which Stallone didn't get top-billing.
  • Alternate versions SPOILER: In the final theatrical release of the film, Adonis Creed loses the fight to Pretty Ricky Conlan by split decision, mirroring the end of the original Rocky. However, another ending was filmed in which Creed wins the fight.
  • Connections Featured in Football Focus: Episode #15.25 (2015)
  • Soundtracks El Padre Armando Written by Xocoyotzin Herrera Performed by Macias & Macias Courtesy of LMS Records Under license from Latin Music Specialists

User reviews 629

  • See more at:
  • MediaPanther
  • Nov 24, 2015

Sylvester Stallone's Most Iconic Roles

Editorial Image

  • How long is Creed? Powered by Alexa
  • How and when did Paulie die?
  • In 'Rocky Balboa', Paulie mentioned that the Rocky statue, which was originally located at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, was taken down. But when Adonis arrived at Philadelphia, he spots the statue at a different location. Somebody explain this?
  • November 25, 2015 (United States)
  • United States
  • Tay Đấm Huyền Thoại
  • Goodison Park, Goodison Road, Walton, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
  • Warner Bros.
  • New Line Cinema
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $35,000,000 (estimated)
  • $109,778,883
  • $29,632,823
  • Nov 29, 2015
  • $174,178,883

Technical specs

  • Runtime 2 hours 13 minutes
  • Dolby Digital

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The ScriptLab


5 plot point breakdown: creed (2015).

By Anthony Faust · September 24, 2016

creed 1 essay

Screenplay Genre: Sports Drama

Movie Time: 133 minutes


Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of famous deceased boxing champion Apollo Creed, struggles to reconcile his tough childhood, which was marked by stints in jail and foster homes, with a fledgling career as a boxer. He goes to Philadelphia to meet an aging Rocky Balboa, his father’s friend and former partner. Adonis asks him to be his trainer, but Rocky politely declines. (00:20:30)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

After visiting the grave of Paulie, his wife’s brother, Rocky meets Adonis at the same gym where he trained for his famous championship fights against Apollo. Rocky agrees to train Adonis, telling him that his father was special, but reminding him that Adonis will have to work hard to prove that the “apple didn’t fall far from the tree”.  (00:39:24)


Adonis wins his first fight with Rocky as his trainer. His opponent is, Leo “The Lion” Sporino, a local fighter from Philadelphia. After winning the bout with a fierce knockout, Adonis is joined in the ring by Rocky and Bianca, his girlfriend.  (01:00:55)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

While Adonis is in his locker room, preparing for his fight with reigning champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, his legacy arrives in a box. It’s a gift from his mom, a pair of red, white, and blue boxing shorts just like his father wore in his legendary fights against Rocky.  (01:42:00)


For the first time in his career, the heavily favored Conlan is knocked down, the result of a vicious jab thrown by Adonis. It’s a stunning twist in a fight that serves up striking similarities of the first fight between Rocky and Apollo four decades earlier.

The result is the same, a split decision in favor of the champion who stumbles over to Adonis and pays his respect to the young man’s herculean effort.  (02:01:05)

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creed 1 essay

Creed Lands Every Punch

The seventh Rocky movie combines the best elements of the classic underdog franchise with a dynamic new star.

creed 1 essay

Anyone who’s ever seen a Rocky movie will know what to expect from Creed , the seventh entry in the “underdog boxing hero makes good” series. Coming 39 years after the original film starring Sylvester Stallone, the movie certainly has its share of training montages and struggles against adversity, as well as an endearing romance between a young fighter and a woman from the neighborhood. But Creed is also necessarily fresh, giving beneficial tweaks to an old formula. Audiences will still likely see every punch coming from a mile away, but what’s remarkable is how the movie lands them all: It’s an invigorating piece of nostalgia that fuels a bigger adrenaline rush with its climax than any big-budget blockbuster could provide.

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It’s worth remembering that the original Rocky is a great film, both overshadowed and enhanced by its bombastic sequels. While later films saw the lovable Philadelphian Rocky Balboa fight Mr. T, conquer the Soviet Union, and own a talking robot, the first movie is a touching character study of a mumbling, distant, sweet-natured guy who gets an unprecedented shot at fame. Creed revives that character, giving Stallone his best part in decades as the retired champ, now puttering away in an Italian restaurant he owns. But it wisely invests most of its running time in its compelling new protagonist, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, playing the son of Rocky’s deceased rival Apollo), and in giving the old rags-to-riches story a clever spin.

Adonis (or “Don”) is the forgotten son of a superstar whose mother died at a young age. The film introduces him as a kid brawling with other boys in juvie before he’s taken in by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad). While Rocky strived to escape the drudgery of life as a local unknown, Adonis has a cushy-looking white-collar job, which doesn’t stop him from feeling drawn to the world of boxing by the memory of his father, killed in the ring in Rocky IV before he was born. That leads him to Philadelphia, where he connects with his dad’s greatest rival and eventual friend, and, well, you can guess the rest.

It’s a heady embrace of what’s come before, but Jordan and the director Ryan Coogler (who scripted with Aaron Covington) infuse it with the visual energy and real-world grit the Rocky series has lacked since the first film. Adonis’s first fight is performed in one bravura take, Coogler’s camera dipping in and around the action with confidence. Jordan invests his performance with notes of suppressed rage and dopey charm. He creates the kind of real-world tough guy Stallone did so well in 1976, tapping into the magnetic star presence he showed in Coogler’s previous film, Fruitvale Station .

That film, Coogler’s debut, was a retelling of the last day of Oscar Grant’s life before he was shot dead, unarmed, by police in an Oakland subway station—a tragedy reflective of the dangers many young African American men face. Compared to that, Creed is a work of escapist fantasy. But Coogler and Jordan nonetheless create a protagonist of color who avoids the stereotypes of many of Hollywood’s black heroes while still being celebrated as one. Adonis is an easy hero for everyone to cheer for, but he’s not thinly painted. Scenes where he runs through Philadelphia followed by cheering kids on bikes are especially memorable—they celebrate the film’s myth-making without putting the hero on an unreachable pedestal.

Along with that, Coogler has crafted an homage to the Rocky series with authentic affection, referencing many of the greatest and corniest moments—chasing chickens in the backyard, Rocky and Apollo’s secret final fight. At the same time, Creed transcends every one of the franchise’s sequels. Notably, it’s the first Rocky film without Stallone’s name on the script, but he shines instead in his quiet, nuanced supporting turn as the aging fighter.

Stallone has never been the most versatile actor, but he layers his original performance with the steeliness that comes with encroaching mortality. As a career performance, it doesn’t feel far off from Clint Eastwood’s turn in Million Dollar Baby : A fter years of playing hard men, both finally get to embrace the youthful energy of their onscreen protégé. And in sidestepping many of the pitfalls that come with continuing a beloved franchise, the film invites viewers to revel in the old glory days without simply trying to recreate them. It might be obvious when the horns are about to blare, but it’s thrilling nonetheless.

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Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.

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creed 1 essay

The Life Lessons I Learned Watching “Creed”

Creed (noun): A set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions.

When you imagine the old “Rocky” movies, what do you see? Fighting? Love? Determination? Do you even catch yourself remembering how all the odds were against him? Now, let’s say you either have never seen the “Rocky” movies or you have and are thinking of seeing the new “Creed” film opening in theaters this Thanksgiving.

Because the story of Rocky is so prevalent in the life of Apollo Creed, one of the greatest fighters of all time who was also Rocky’s opponent and later, a friend, one would think that the same elements in the movie “Rocky” would be in “Creed.” But this production has much more to offer. This film embodies multiple themes, countless symbols, an accurate depiction of our generation and quotes that will capture your mind. It doesn’t neatly fit into one genre as it has romance, adventure, action, comedy and drama. Although you could have developed an annoyance with “Rocky” because of the countless sequels, this incredible tale of Apollo Creed’s son is nothing like any of the other films in the franchise.

In “Creed,” Adonis Johnson, Apollo Creed’s son who was born after his death, fights more than just boxing matches. He fights himself, his ego, his independence and his trust issues. With this in mind, I can point out three major life lessons you can learn from this movie. Firstly, “Creed” taught me that you have to let go of your past or it will ruin you. Adonis deals with a lot of anger stemming from being raised without a father and he takes it out through fighting, but sometimes he chooses the wrong battles. He ends up pushing away most of the people close to him by refusing to let go of his rage and Rocky Balboa, his new boxing trainer, even tells him “you’re still caught in the shadow.” This scene demonstrates that Adonis is still grappling with his father’s legacy and his own. Rocky desires to communicate to him that he can’t bring his previous way of doing things into the ring. Rocky also runs into issues when he does not let go of his past because of his wife’s death and his son’s distance from him. These influence his decisions, his training Adonis and even lead to him avoiding his obligations at times.

The next lesson is boxing is more than it seems. Rocky teaches Adonis that sometimes old school methods of training are necessary in order to win and even with Rocky dealing with the demons of his own, he is able to treat Adonis as family. A common theme between the old “Rocky” movies and the new “Creed” is perseverance. Adonis could not only have a dream and give up everything to achieve it, but also he has to realize that starting small is what would cause him to prevail. He sees that boxing is not just about the money, but also about having heart and fighting for a purpose. In teaching him, Rocky explains to Adonis, “As long as you’re talking, you’re not listening.”

The last lesson I learned from this movie is that you need family in all your successes. When Adonis reaches out to Rocky Balboa for help, he learns how to take his life by the reins. Biologically, Adonis had no one by his side, but emotionally, he had people invested in him and his gift. This support keeps him grounded as he learns that family makes a person better. Constantly, he has to prove himself to the world and live up to the standards that his father set. Adonis only wants to make a name for himself, but when Bianca, his love interest in the movie urges him to “Use the name, it’s yours,” that sticks with Adonis. Not only does Adonis absorb this lesson, but Rocky does as well. With Rocky’s wife, Adrian now dead, he has a difficult time doing anything that reminds him of his past life. He only knew his life with Adrian in it, but when Adonis come into the picture, Rocky has the opportunity to be the father Adonis never had.

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Feel-good Black-led film continues Rocky saga; has violence.

Creed Movie Poster Image: Creed and Rocky in the ring

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Loyalty has its rewards, especially when it comes

Rocky may no longer be an unrelenting fighter in t

Directed and co-written by Black filmmaker Ryan Co

Pummeling action in the ring (body blows, face pun

One scene shows a couple presumably having sex; vi

Language includes one "f--k," plus "ass," "s--t,"

Labels/brands seen include Nike, Dell, Samsung. Th

One character leaves a bottle of liquor to salute

Parents need to know that Creed is the first movie in the Rocky saga to feature Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed's son, Adonis "Donnie" Johnson. With boxing at the story's center, you can expect plenty of scenes with often-brutal fights (body blows, face punches, blood everywhere), plus sad moments…

Positive Messages

Loyalty has its rewards, especially when it comes to friends who've become like family. And hard work and perseverance will pay off if they come from the right place and with the best intentions. Self-control is an additional theme, though even those who don't demonstrate it are still rewarded.

Positive Role Models

Rocky may no longer be an unrelenting fighter in the ring, but he's still the same generous, big-hearted, and humble guy that he was in the previous movies. Adonis has a chip on his shoulder about being Apollo's son and has demons to silence, but he's well-intentioned, kind, and determined to succeed -- and to work hard to get there.

Diverse Representations

Directed and co-written by Black filmmaker Ryan Coogler, the film features Black (Adonis) and White (Rocky) main characters. Supporting characters of color include Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Adonis' adoptive mother, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), along with several other Black minor characters (trainers and boxers, Philly residents, etc.). But non-Black depictions can fall into cliches: Early fights in Tijuana look lowbrow and gritty, using the type of yellow color filter that's been overused in Hollywood to convey Mexico as rundown, and there's a glimpse of East Asian tourists who snap photos by the Rocky statue. Women assume stereotypical roles as emotional anchors, sometimes to their own detriment (e.g., Adonis jeopardizes a high-profile gig for performer Bianca by starting a fight), though they do have their own backstories. Bianca has progressive hearing loss and wears a hearing aid -- the narrative is written respectfully.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Pummeling action in the ring (body blows, face punches, sounds of cracking bones) can get quite bloody and is painful to watch. One character is shown as a young child dealing with stressful situations with his fists. Lots of trash talk between boxers. A character deals with cancer treatment (sad moments).

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

One scene shows a couple presumably having sex; viewers see some skin, the back strap of a bra, and kissing. A character briefly picks up a pornographic magazine (naked woman visible but nothing sensitive is shown).

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Language includes one "f--k," plus "ass," "s--t," "son of a bitch," the "N" word used by a Black character while fighting, "damn," "hell," "oh my God," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Labels/brands seen include Nike, Dell, Samsung. There's brief Hershey's and Tecate signage, and Breyers ice cream and Oreos sit on a table.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character leaves a bottle of liquor to salute a hard-drinking friend who passed away long ago.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Creed is the first movie in the Rocky saga to feature Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed's son, Adonis "Donnie" Johnson. With boxing at the story's center, you can expect plenty of scenes with often-brutal fights (body blows, face punches, blood everywhere), plus sad moments when a main character is diagnosed with cancer. The story is driven forward by a traditional hero's journey, which will likely appeal to teens. There's a romance that includes some kissing and groping (nothing graphic), and you can expect strong language (including "s--t," "oh my God," the "N" word used by a Black character during a fight, and one "f--k"). Directed by Ryan Coogler ( Black Panther ), the film has complex Black characters, though women play a secondary role as emotional supports to male leads. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Based on 12 parent reviews

I cried Rocky tears...

Creed is a solid story in starting a new legacy and continuing an old one, what's the story.

Adonis "Donnie" Johnson ( Michael B. Jordan ) never knew his father, boxing legend Apollo CREED; Apollo died before Adonis was born (the boy was the product of an affair). After Donnie bounces around from one group home to another, Apollo's widow ( Phylicia Rashad ) takes him in, providing him with a loving family and the education to pursue what she hopes is a journey different from his father's, who died because of a difficult fight. But Adonis is Apollo's son through and through, and soon the young man, who's boxing under the radar in Mexico, feels called to the ring. He quits his investment banking job and moves to Philadelphia, where he hopes to make a name for himself outside of the Creed legacy and under the tutelage of Apollo's former foe and later friend, Rocky Balboa ( Sylvester Stallone ). But earning his stripes means facing not just other established fighters, but his own demons.

Is It Any Good?

This movie has elements that are terrific, no question, but it disappoints, too. Still, it's well worth seeing, if only to witness how Rocky 's cinematic and boxing legacy continues. First, the good stuff: Decades after the first Rocky hit the big screen, the pull of the franchise endures. When Stallone makes his first appearance, it's hard not to root for him. We've known this character for years, and there's something fundamentally appealing about him.

Adonis, meanwhile, is much more complicated -- though perhaps not as complicated as he deserves. We don't get to know him as deeply as we did Rocky, and therefore we aren't as invested in him as we should be. He comes alive when he's in the ring, as the star of a Rocky movie should (though nostalgia buffs might wish they'd hear more of the iconic theme song), thanks to fight choreography that taps into both the balletic and brutal elements of the punishing sport. But Adonis also needs to be compelling away from the ropes. A hero's journey deserves a hero who's mesmerizing; through no fault of the talented Jordan, Adonis still stands in the shadow of Rocky Balboa.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how Creed fits into the Rocky legacy. What themes of the previous movies does it also address? How does it depart from its predecessors?

Does the movie glamorize the sport of boxing (and the violence inherent in it) or provide an even-handed view of it? How does this kind of violence compare to what you might see in an action movie? Which has more impact, and why?

Do you consider Rocky a role model? What do Rocky and Adonis bring to each other's lives?

How do the characters in Creed demonstrate perseverance and self-control ? Why are these important character strengths ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : November 25, 2015
  • On DVD or streaming : March 1, 2016
  • Cast : Michael B. Jordan , Tessa Thompson , Sylvester Stallone
  • Director : Ryan Coogler
  • Inclusion Information : Black directors, Black actors, Female actors, Latino actors, Black writers
  • Studio : Warner Bros.
  • Genre : Drama
  • Topics : Sports and Martial Arts
  • Character Strengths : Perseverance , Self-control
  • Run time : 95 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : violence, language and some sensuality
  • Award : Golden Globe
  • Last updated : March 25, 2024

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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You Are What You Believe: How the Creed Defines Our Identity in Relation to God, Ourselves, and Others

Joshua Pauling

Ancient Christian confessions like the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed define the boundaries and content of the Christian faith in accordance with Scripture. But they also function as essential identity formation. These creeds are much more than checklists of personal beliefs. Their propositional and narrative content together offer a unified account of reality in relation to God, ourselves, and one another. In reality, these creeds are one credo , one “I believe”—so in this essay I’ll refer to them in the singular.

The creed describes not only who God is but also who we are. In these ways, the creed is both a no and a yes. “The Nicene Creed was written to say no , in the strongest possible terms,” Phillip Cary explains, to heresy. But the creed “said no by saying yes to who God really is, and who Jesus is . . . and sometimes it says who God is by saying what he has done to make us who we are: God’s creatures who he raises from death to everlasting life in Christ .”

The question of identity is perennial. And in the modern West, the question seems to generate even more existential angst than in the past, as we became unmoored from traditional identity anchors of faith, family, place, and even from biology itself. Numerous identity alternatives have been proposed as solutions, and many thoughtful Christians have responded to this question with powerful calls to find our identity in Christ. It’s a vital case to make—but one that frequently remains abstract and intangible. What does it really mean to encourage people to find their identity in Christ? How am I anchored beyond myself, my thoughts, and my feelings? Is Christianity just another identity choice among many?

The creed helps us move beyond the abstract into the realm of the concrete, revealing that Christianity is a deeply rooted identity-gift of ultimate and eternal significance, anchored in the God who is . This is the God who speaks the world into existence by the word of his power, the God who is the Word made flesh, the God who gives gifts to his people through words that mean something and sacraments that do something. The creed recounts and revels in this Triune God’s work of creation, redemption, and sanctification revealed in his word; and as we believe, it also shapes our identity. In confessing the creed, we’re led further up and further in (as C. S. Lewis might say) to this deepest reality of knowing God and ourselves. We are what we believe—because what we believe, as given in the creed, is reality.

The creed defines who we are in three fundamental ways: In relationship to God, to self, and to others, which I’d like to explore together in connection with the creed’s three articles. But first, we should consider how competing stories—cultural creeds—also shape us as we believe them.

Confounded by Creating Ourselves: How Stories Form or Malform Us

Humans are storytelling creatures. And our stories shape our identity. Countless competing narratives attempt to tell us who we are. Consider the Darwinian creed, which tells us we are just material stuff, here by accident. Or the consumerist creed, which presents humanity as customers who find meaning in their possessions. So too, the creed of expressive individualism, which tells us that our internal desires are who we are, manifest in everything from Moralistic Therapeutic Deism—which George Barna flatly calls “fake Christianity”—to the LGBTQ+ identities exploding even among professing Gen Z Christian s.

No matter what story or cultural creed tempts us, the common thread linking them together is a vision of the human person as self-defined and self-creating. The various cultural creeds might be summed up best with this simple statement of faith: I believe in myself.

At first, self-creation seems freeing: We get to throw off stodgy external structures and limiting moral codes—no more cramping my style! But for anyone who takes life just the least bit seriously, self-creation easily morphs into an anxiety-inducing burden bigger than our shoulders were designed to bear. Alan Noble calls this “the fundamental lie of modernity: that we are our own.” He suggests that “until we see this lie for what it is, until we work to uproot it from our culture and replant a conception of human persons as belonging to God and ourselves, most of our efforts at improving the world will be glorified Band-Aids .” The self-help Band-Aids aren’t stopping the bleeding and are actually making things worse, considering rising anxiety, depression, and suicide. While “no single cause can explain the presence of such social ills,” Noble suggests that they all “share important characteristics: they are systemic in nature, they are inhuman, and they all rely on a particular set of assumptions about what it means to be human.” A cultural creedal identity untethers humans from God and from external structures of meaning and morality. Ironically, this creates a boomerang effect in which all those responsibilities are sent reeling back toward us, leaving us on our own to find, formulate, or even fabricate meaning for our lives.

How do we avoid getting crushed under the weight of having to invent ourselves—to be our own creators and sustainers and redeemers? Noble points to a way out by remembering that we are not our own. This is a profoundly countercultural move: “An anthropology defined by our belonging to God is diametrically opposed to the contemporary belief that we are autonomous, free, atomistic individuals who find our greatest fulfillment in breaking free from all external norms.” The creed concretizes this “no”toward cultural self-identity with clear doctrinal claims and a compelling narrative structure for our life in Christ, uniting the worlds of fact and story, the objective truth outside us, and the subjective truth about us. As Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, put it more than eighteen hundred years ago, “Faith is established upon things truly real, that we may believe what really is, as it is.”

I Believe: Formed and Re-formed by the Creed

Each time we recite and reflect on the creed, we are brought further into its story and its story is brought further into us. We’re doing more than stating bare facts or reinforcing social bonds in the local congregation. We’re responding to what God has said and done by saying “this faith is mine; this is my story.” But not just mine. It’s the same faith confessed by Irenaeus and Athanasius, by Anselm and Aquinas, by Luther and Calvin, by peasants and kings, by mothers and fathers, by sisters and brothers, by friends and enemies, by rich and poor. When you recite the creed, you join millions of living Christians in thousands of languages in hundreds of countries—with untold numbers of faithful saints who have gone before—echoing together the true story and meaning of the cosmos. Talk about an identity-making event that many of us experience every Sunday!

The creed, however, shouldn’t then be set aside until the following Sunday. It can form our daily life in Christ. Peter Bender explains,

It is intended to be used daily in the life of the Christian and the Christian family for the purpose of faithful meditation upon the Word of God. The Creed anchors meditation in what is true, not for the self alone, but for every Christian for all time . . . [and] stands as a grid or framework through which the text of the Scriptures is to be properly understood.

Historically, we Christians receive the creed as an apostolic deposit given to us in our baptism, that provides us with the language and grammar to think and speak about God, ourselves, and one another. Already in the second century, Irenaeus referred to the long-established rule of faith, or “rule of truth,” that is “received by means of baptism” and that this “truth proclaimed by the Church is immovable.” Irenaeus then described the rule within the trinitarian structure and language familiar to anyone who knows the creeds:

The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [It believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas and all the things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who made known through the prophets the plan of salvation, and the coming, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and his [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all.
The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. . . . For although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same.

We have all received the weight and wisdom of this shared sacred tradition.

I Am a Creature: The First Article and My Relation to God

God, the Father, uncreated, uncontainable, invisible; one God, the creator of all: this is the first article of our faith.

The creed’s first article begins by expressing our faith in the work of God the Father as Creator, which simultaneously tells us something about ourselves: We are creatures. God alone is uncreated; we as humans can’t help being creatures. So where do we ultimately find our identity? In the forces of nature or nurture? Society or self? Because we confess God as Creator, we confess that we receive our identity from another because we receive our very existence from another. As Irenaeus put it, “God indeed makes, but man is made.”

We may not think of creatureliness as good news. Being a creature can be rather disgusting at times. Smelly. Messy. Unsexy. Richard John Neuhaus notes that “the word ‘creature’ is hardly ever used today except negatively. Horror movies have creatures from the deep, and we speak of bothersome insects as creatures, but most people would not call their pet dog a creature, never mind their best friend.” Neuhaus sees this as “a triumph of Gnosticism in our popular culture,” a rejection of the gift of bodily life, and “the desire to be like God on our own terms .” Neuhaus encourages us to remember “the most elementary fact about what and who we are—creatures. We are not the Creator; we are not God.”

The creed’s first article frees us from trying to be God. We are embodied, contingent beings with in-built limits—and this is indeed good news. We have a Creator who, as Luther says, “has made me and all creatures; . . . he has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. . . . All this he does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.”

“If we belong to ourselves,” Noble explains, “then we set our own limits—which means we have no limits except our own will. If we belong to God, then knowing and abiding by His limits enables us to live as we were created to live, as the humans He designed us to be.” The creed’s first article reveals a Creator whose actions are driven by love—nay, who is love. We are defined in relation to this fatherly Creator as creatures who are loved with an eternal and unending love, a love that takes on flesh. The God who made us as bodily beings and pronounced it as all “very good” enters history bodily. This further defines our identity.

I Am Christian: The Second Article and My Relation to Self

And the second article: The Word of God, the Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, who was revealed by the prophets according to the character of their prophecy and according to the nature of the economies of the Father, by whom all things were made, and who, in the last times, to recapitulate all things, became a man amongst men, visible and palpable, in order to abolish death, to demonstrate life, and to effect communion between God and man.

The creed’s second article about the Son’s work of redemption helps to define the self. Now, confessing our beliefs in relation to ourselves may sound dubious after all my earlier warnings about the dangers of self-creation and navel gazing. But it’s in the second article that we see how Christ remakes and redefines human identity around himself. For believers, self-identity is now Christ-identity. Saint Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ in me. Jonathan Linebaugh describes the identity-forming power of Paul’s words here as “the meeting of the christological past and a personal pronoun, a pairing that gives peace to ‘a trembling and troubled heart’ and ‘rest to your bones and mine.’”

The ancient church testifies to this comprehensive understanding of identity in Christ, as evidenced in their frequent confession of Christianus sum (“I am Christian”) in the face of persecution. Christianus , in both its Latin and Greek equivalents, is suggestive of something more than simply a lifestyle choice or an individualistic decision. When someone says “I am a Christian” today, it just doesn’t quite capture the weight and force of the original. When Christians confessed Christianus sum , they weren’t making a claim of personal perspective or wishful thinking; it was primal and real. There were now of Christ, belonging to Christ; Christ was in them, and they were in him. Such an ultimate claim reordered their allegiance under the world’s rightful king, Jesus, to whom they were united. They saw themselves as part of a new humanity constituted around the risen and glorified Christ, made up of people from all tribes, nations, tongues, and peoples. The claims of the creed radically changed Christian self-identity. No longer did the early Christians primarily identify as citizens of this or that country, or members of this or that family or class. This is not to say that their personal distinctiveness was lost or absorbed. Those things weren’t erased but transformed as they were now in Christ, who took on flesh, lived, died, and rose again proving his divinity and victory over the forces of evil and the empires of this world by the foolishness of his cross. Now that is a self-identity worth reclaiming—and urgently so, considering the scope and breadth of our contemporary identity crises.

I Am Communal: The Third Article and My Relation to Others

And the third article: The Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied and the patriarchs learnt the things of God, and the righteous were led in the path of righteousness, and who, in the last times, was poured out in a new fashion upon the human race renewing man, throughout the world, to God.

The creed’s third article on the Spirit’s role as sanctifier reminds us of our relational nature. The creed tells us that we are not solitary, mechanistic units but created to be in living relation to a people and a history. In the church, not in isolation, the gifts of God are distributed to the people of God: communion, forgiveness, resurrection, and everlasting life.

In his explanation of the Apostles’ Creed, Luther highlights the inseparability of the individual and communal. Not only has “the Holy Spirit . . . called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith,” but also “in the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.” The Spirit makes us new creatures in the image of Christ, our new head, which situates our rich and robust individual Christian identity in his larger body, the church where we all have varying gifts and roles. Confessing “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” roots us in our relationship to God as redeemed sinners and in community with other sinful saints where we together receive God’s spoken and sacramental gifts. Here, both self and other are properly placed in relation to God. Each individual is valued for their unique identity, but they are also united into one body. Christianity is particularly applied to individuals in each locale and community but is also universal in scope and application. All of this provides us with a firm place within the larger ordering of the cosmos—a position from which to live with assurance and purpose.

Being Formed by the True Story of the World

This creedal identity frames my relation to God, myself, and others. How can this not have significant influence in my daily life? The creed calls us to a life properly ordered toward the world’s master key, its deepest reality and unifying principle: Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the one in whom all things hold together (John 14:6; Col. 1:17). Here are a few starting points for further meditation on how a creedal rather than a cultural identity transforms everything about who we are and how we live.

Creedal Identity Is Subversive

Confessing the creed is a countercultural act that places us in a new community, in a new body, with a new king, and his name is neither Self nor Caesar. In the church’s confession, all our stereotypes and assumptions are turned upside down. Societal outcasts and social butterflies, truck drivers and doctors, those who clean toilets and those who design them are equally humbled and honored. All are united with our king and with one another in God’s paradoxical kingdom as we confess where our ultimate allegiances lie.

This dislocates us by reminding us that we’re pilgrims in a world that confesses different creeds. But it also locates us, anchoring us to a place and a people in a way that heals worldly divisions. From the church’s earliest days, this reality came through as our baptismal creed established a new community—a chosen race and royal priesthood that is a foretaste of the New Jerusalem, elevating the status of those who were considered lower, and breaking down the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14).

Creedal Identity Is Anchored to the Body

Being a creature means that our bodies are gifts to be received and embraced, not rejected or deconstructed. Life in the body has limits, and it is from such a place of finitude and contingency that wisdom, virtue, and day-by-day faithfulness can grow. Consider the extreme inefficiency of caring for a young toddler or an elderly parent, or the long agonizing hours of conversation and presence required to walk together with someone through despair, grief, or depression. These are highly inconvenient but deeply human and deeply beautiful expressions of belonging to Christ and his body. Today, the body frequently seems not only too limited but also expendable, a waste product to be disposed of as neatly and quickly as possible. There is little thought of the body’s inherent value, its creation by God, or its ultimate resurrection. Our bodies have inherent value, however, and should be treated with respect and care, both during life and in our final Christian act: what we do with our bodies upon death.

Creedal Identity Is a Gift

Quite distinct from self-constructed and self-made forms of identity, the creed grants us an identity-gift, reminding us that God plants us in webs of mutual interdependence and support. At our birth, our name is given, our place is given, our family is given, our community is given. And if we take our cues from the church fathers, the rule of faith is gifted to us as well. The apostolic deposit is exactly that—a deposit we receive and inherit. The language of creedal and baptismal inheritance is common throughout the early church. Irenaeus notes how the faith has been “handed down to us . . . [which] exhorts us to remember that we have received baptism for the remission of sins . . . [as] the seal of eternal life and rebirth unto God, that we may no longer be sons of mortal men, but of the eternal and everlasting God.” In a culture that sees only self-chosen commitments and identities as authentic, we see in the creed a vision not of an identity we choose but one we receive by grace.

Creedal Identity Connects Us to Milestones and Rhythms

The creed frames the passage of time and seasons as structured by the church and marked by the milestones of God’s work in word and sacrament. It places us on a path rich with meaning, with accompanying rites to mark life’s journey: baptism, the Eucharist, Christian death and burial—all of which are explicitly referenced in the creed in the life of Christ and thus anticipated in the life of believers. These milestones are enacted and re-enacted in the church’s weekly rhythm of Lord’s Day rest. Kelly Kapic suggests that the concept of Sabbath is “one of the most countercultural and radical ideas in the Bible.” We cannot keep running the modern rat-race endlessly—we will perform ourselves to death. Structuring our lives around, and resting in, the rhythms of God’s gift of rest and word frees us to step off the tyrannical treadmill and into the Sabbath of God. These milestones and rhythms also ensure that our beliefs are embodied in our practices and that there is wholeness between our hearts and our heads, our bodies and our brains.

Creedal Identity Has a Destiny

The creed also clearly points us to our journey’s end. The pilgrim church daily confesses our faith in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. The goal of human identity runs much deeper than individual choice or lived experience, personal achievement or social status, race or sexual preference. Your true purpose is found not in your own name, history, or constructed identity, but in the name, history and identity of Christ given in the ancient creed. This is an earth-shaking and life-altering identity that offers hope for this world and the next, knowing that what awaits us in the eschaton is the fullest expression of human identity imaginable: a glorified humanity in full communion with the Trinity and with one another.

The creed tells me that I am fundamentally a creature, a Christian, and communal. It tells me that you and I are in Christ and thus belong to each other. Despite the false and fleeting alternative identities we try to create for ourselves or adopt from our culture, Irenaeus has been right all along: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Let’s embrace the creed’s call to be defined by what we believe because we belong to the One in whom we believe. Let’s embrace reality.

Phillip Cary, The Nicene Creed: An Introduction (Bellingham, WA: Lexham, 2022), 2.

George Barna, “American Worldview Inventory 2021, Release #02: Introducing America’s Most Popular Worldview—Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” Cultural Research Center , April 27, 2021; Paul Bond, “Nearly 40 Percent of U.S. Gen Zs, 30 Percent of Young Christians Identify as LGBT, Poll Shows,” Newsweek (October 20, 2021).

Alan Noble, You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2021), 5.

“Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data Summary and Trends Report,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , -Summary-Trends_Report2023_508.pdf.

Noble, You Are Not Your Own , 17.

Noble, You Are Not Your Own , 6.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), 41.

Peter Bender, “The Creed Defines the Scriptures and Strengthens the Faith,” in We Believe: Essays on the Catechism (Fort Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 2000), 44.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies , 1.9.4–1.9.5, vol. 1, p. 330, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers , ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (1885–1887; repr., Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994).

Irenaeus, Against Heresies , 1.10.1, 330.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies , 1.20.2, 331.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching , 43.

To be sure, we understand that the work of creation is the work of all three persons of the Godhead (inseparable operations). But we also understand that there is a proper work to each Person of the Godhead when considering the economic Trinity, which the creed reflects: Father as Creator, Son as Redeemer, Spirit as Sanctifier.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies , 4.11.2, 474.

Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 120–21.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 2017), 16.

Noble, You Are Not Your Own , 118.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching , 43–44.

Jonathan Linebaugh, The Word of the Cross: Reading Paul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2022), 72.

For an excellent short treatment of martyrdom and Christian identity in the early church, see William Weinrich, “Christian Martyrdom: Some Reflections,” Journal of Lutheran Mission , vol. 2, no. 2 (September 2014): 9–15.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching , 44.

Luther, Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation , 17–18.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching , 42.

Kelly M. Kapic, You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2022), 219.

This is a frequently used paraphrase that is faithful to the more wooden translation: “For the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies , 4.20.7, 490.

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Joshua Pauling

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The american's creed.

by William Tyler Page

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

–Written 1917, accepted by the United States House of Representatives on April 3, 1918.

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This public-domain content provided by the Independence Hall Association , a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942. Publishing electronically as On the Internet since July 4, 1995.


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With Arms Wide Open

How did creed, the most hated band of the 1990s, become so beloved—and even cool i sailed the seas with thousands of fellow lunatics to find out..

It’s high noon on a blazing April day, which is the ideal time to be sitting in an Irish pub aboard a cruise ship the size of a small asteroid. The bar is called O’Sheehan’s—yes, pronounced “oceans”—and it’s located deep within the belly of the boat, just above the teppanyaki joint, the sake bar, and the lustrous duty-free shops. This consciousness-altering diorama of infinite seas and cloying Guinness-themed paraphernalia is where I meet Colleen Sullivan, a 46-year-old woman with a beehive of curly red hair and arms encased by plastic wristbands. She wants to tell me how Creed changed her life.

A few moments earlier, Sullivan dropped one of those wristbands on my table—an invitation to talk. It’s lime-green and emblazoned with pink lettering that reads “Rock the Boat With Creed.” I slip it past my hand and sidle up to her booth. Sullivan uses one nuclear-yellow-painted fingernail to hook back the wristbands on her right arm. Underneath is the pinched autograph of Scott Stapp, the band’s mercurial lead singer, enshrined in tattoo ink. This, it seems, is not her first rodeo.

We are both here for “Summer of ’99,” a weekendlong cruise and concert festival for which Creed—as in the Christian-lite rock band that sold more than 28 million albums in the U.S. alone and yet may be the most widely disdained group in modern times—is reuniting for the first time in 12 years. Roughly 2,400 other Creed fans are along for the round-trip ride from Miami to the Bahamas, and the rest of the bill is occupied by the dregs of turn-of-the-millennium alt-rock stardom. Buckcherry is here. So are Vertical Horizon, Fuel, and 3 Doors Down, the latter of whom hasn’t released an album since 2016.

To celebrate, Sixthman, the booking agency responsible for this and many other cruises, has thoroughly Creed-ified every element of the ship. The band’s logo is printed on the napkins and scripted across the blackjack felt. The TV screens at the bar are tuned to a near-constant loop of Creed’s performance at Woodstock ’99. The onboard library has been converted to a merch store selling Creed hoodies and shot glasses. The stock music piped into the corridors has been swapped out for Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy,” and 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite.” When I turn on the closed-circuit television in my cabin, a channel called New Movies plays Scream 3 and Can’t Hardly Wait . And four elevator doors in the boat’s central plaza are plastered with the words “Can You Take Me Higher or Lower?” Sixthman pulled similar stunts with 311’s “ Caribbean Cruise ,” Train’s “ Sail Across the Sun ” cruise, and Kid Rock’s notoriously debauched “ Chillin’ the Most ” cruise—the Kid Rock cruise also took place on the vessel I’m on, the Norwegian Pearl . The idea is to teleport a captive audience back into the dirtbags they once embodied and to a simpler time, when Scott Stapp controlled the universe.

Sullivan tells me that her relationship with Creed overlaps with her sobriety story. She first became a fan of the band in the late 1990s, when “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open” were soaring up the Billboard charts. Then, Sullivan started using, and her appreciation for the divine proportions of those songs faded in service of more corporeal needs. Years later, after Creed broke up and Sullivan got clean, she returned to the music and discovered a dogma of her own: Maybe she had been put on earth to love Stapp—and Creed—harder, and with more urgency, than anyone else in the world.

“He helped me grow with those old Creed songs,” she tells me. “When I saw Scott for the first time live, he had just gotten clean too. I’d go to the shows and there would be tears streaming down my face.” Her left arm contains another Stapp tattoo, with the words “His Love Was Thunder in the Sky” scrawled up to her elbow, surrounded by a constellation of quarter notes. It’s a lyric taken from a 2013 Stapp solo song called “Jesus Was a Rockstar.” The singer Sharpie’d it onto her body himself.

“Summer of ’99” is Creed’s second attempt to reunite, after it disbanded in both 2004 and 2012 amid clashing egos and substance issues. The band couldn’t have picked a better time to get back together. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of an extremely unlikely Creed renaissance, redeeming the most reviled—and, perhaps more damningly, most uncool —band in the world. For much of the past 20 years, hating Creed has been a natural extension of being a music fan: In 2013 Rolling Stone readers voted the group “the worst band of the 1990s,” beating out a murderers’ row of Hootie and the Blowfish, Nickelback, and Hanson. Entertainment Weekly, reviewing Human Clay , the band’s bestselling album and one of the highest-selling albums of all time, bemoaned the record’s “lunkheaded kegger rock” and “quasi-spiritual lyrics that have all the resonance of a self-help manual.” Meanwhile, Robert Christgau, the self-appointed dean of American rock critics, wrote Creed off as “God-fearing grunge babies,” comparing the group unfavorably with Limp Bizkit.

The disrespect was reflected more sharply by Stapp’s own contemporaries. In the early 2000s, Dexter Holland, the frontman of the Offspring, played shows wearing a T-shirt that read “Even Jesus Hates Creed.” After leaked images of a sex tape filmed in 1999 featuring Stapp and Kid Rock and a room full of groupies made it onto the internet, Kid Rock retorted by saying that his fans didn’t care about the pornography but were appalled that he was hanging out with someone like Stapp. The comedian David Cross, who embodies the archetype of the exact sort of coastal hipsters who became the band’s loudest hecklers, dedicated swaths of his stand-up material to bird-dogging the singer. (One choice punchline: “That guy hangs out outside a junior high school girls locker room and writes down poetry he overhears.”) Then, in 2002, after a disastrous show in Chicago at which a belligerently drunk Stapp forgot the words to his songs and stumbled off the stage for 10 minutes, four attendees unsuccessfully sued the band for $2 million. Holland’s shirt didn’t go far enough—at the group’s lowest, even Creed fans hated Creed.

All this acrimony plunged Stapp into several episodes of psychic distress. His dependence on alcohol and painkillers was well documented during the band’s initial brush with success, but after Creed’s short-lived reconciliation, Stapp spiraled into a truly cavernous nadir. In 2014 the singer started posting unsettling videos to Facebook, asserting that he had been victimized by a cascading financial scam and was living in a Holiday Inn. That same year, TMZ released 911 calls made by Stapp’s wife Jaclyn claiming that he had printed out reams of CIA documents and was threatening to kill Barack Obama. But these days, Stapp—who announced a bipolar diagnosis in 2015—appears to be on much firmer ground, and the band has reportedly patched up some of those long-gestating interpersonal wounds.

But with time comes wisdom, and in 2024 neither the critical slander nor the troubling reports about Stapp’s mental state are anywhere to be found. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Creed is good, a shift that, as Stapp told Esquire , “just started happening” around 2021. The new paradigm likely solidified the next year, when Creed’s mythically patriotic post-9/11 halftime show, played on Thanksgiving in 2001, began to accrue latter-day meme status. The set was ridiculous and immaculately lip-synced by Stapp and company. Yoked, shirtless angels spin through the air, and cheerleaders pump out pompom routines synchronized with “My Sacrifice,” all while the live broadcast is interspersed with grim footage from ground zero. It’s garishly, unapologetically American, issued just before the unsavory decline of the Bush administration clicked into place. Today both of those relics—Creed and the unified national optimism—are worth getting wistful about. “This is where we peaked as a nation,” wrote football commentator Mike Golic Jr., linking to the video.

Creed nostalgia has only proliferated further since the resurrection of that halftime show. The band’s guitarist, Mark Tremonti, told the hard-rock site Blabbermouth that he’d recently noticed athletes bumping Creed as their “ go-to battle music ,” and in November, an entire stadium of Texas Rangers fans belted out “Higher” to commemorate their team’s World Series victory . Earlier this year, a viral remix of “ One Last Breath ” even began pulsing through some of the hottest parties in New York. The band has clearly crossed some sort of inscrutable cultural Rubicon and thrown reality into flux—up is down, black is white, and, due to a sublime confluence of biting irony and prostrating sincerity, Creed fucking rocks .

All this means that the inaugural edition of the “Summer of ’99” cruise is buoyed by very high stakes. It has been 12 long years since Creed last played a show, and the cruise is intended to be the dry run for a mammoth comeback tour that is scheduled for 60 dates, through summer and autumn, in basketball arenas and hockey stadiums across North America. The only remaining question is whether the band can keep it together. I’m there in a commemorative Creed Super Bowl halftime T-shirt to find out.

Several flights of stairs above O’Sheehan’s, the day before I meet Sullivan, I find Sean Patrick, a giddily beer-buzzed 34-year-old from Nashville who is standing in awe of a Coachella-sized stage that looks downright sinister on the pool deck. Creed is playing two shows this weekend, and the first is set for the very minute the boat leaves port and escapes Miami for the horizon. This means that everyone who purchased a ticket to “Summer of ’99”—which ranges from $895 for a windowless hovel to $6,381 for a stateroom with a balcony—has ascended to the top of the ship, preparing for Creed’s rebirth in a wash of Coors Light tallboys.

As of two days ago, Patrick was unaware he would be attending this cruise. Everything changed when a friend, who was on the waitlist, received a call from Norwegian Cruise Line informing him that a cabin with his name on it had miraculously become available. Patrick was suddenly presented with the opportunity to spend a tremendous amount of cash, on very short notice, to witness this reunion amid the die-hards.

Unlike Sullivan, Patrick doesn’t possess one of those highly intimate histories with the band, flecked with tales of trauma and perseverance. Still, he fell in love with Creed—even if it was only by accident.

“I think it started as a joke. The songs were good, but there was definitely a feeling of, like, Yeah, Creed! ” he tells me. “But then, next thing you know, you find yourself in your car, alone, deciding to put on Creed.”

The majority of the passengers on the Pearl have never been burdened with Patrick’s hesitance. Their relationship with Creed is genuine and free—cleansed of even the faintest whiff of irony—and, unlike Patrick, they tend to be in their late 40s and early 50s. The woman standing ankle-deep in the wading pool with a Stewie Griffin tattoo on her shin unambiguously loves Creed, and the same is probably true of whoever was lounging on a deck chair with a book, written by Fox News pundit Jesse Watters, titled Get It Together: Troubling Tales From the Liberal Fringe . Two brothers from Kentucky who work in steel mills, but not the same steel mill, tell me that loving Creed is practically a family tradition: Their eldest brother, not present on the boat, initially showed them the band’s records. Tina Smith, a 48-year-old home-care aide from Texas, crowned with a black tennis visor adorned with golden letters spelling out the name of her favorite band, loves Creed so much that she embarked on this trip all by herself. “This is my first cruise and my first vacation,” she says, proudly. (Smith is already planning her next vacation. It will coincide with another Creed show.)

Passengers I encounter that are a generation younger are clearly acquainted more with Creed the meme than Creed the band. These are the people who vibe with statements like “Born too late to own property, born just in time to be a crusader in the ‘Creed Isn’t Bad’ fight”—especially when they’re arranged as deep-fried blocks of text superimposed over the face of Keanu Reeves as Neo. If the establishment brokers of culture once settled on the position that Creed sucks, then it has been met with a youth-led insurgency that seems dead-set on shifting the consensus—if for no other reason than to savor the nectar of pure, uncut taboo.

Many members of this insurgency are aboard the Pearl , and they’re caked in emblems of internet miscellany that scream out to anyone in the know. Consider the young man, traveling with his father, who is draped in a T-shirt bearing the Creed logo below a beatific image of Nicolas Cage circa Con Air , or the many fans who wander around the innards of the Pearl in matching Scott Stapp–branded Dallas Cowboys jerseys, a reference to that halftime show. In fact, the best representatives of sardonic Creed-fandom colonists might be the youngest collection of friends that I’ve met on board. They are all in their 20s, most of them work in Boston’s medicine and science sectors, and each is dressed in a custom-ordered tropical button-down dotted with the angelic face of Scott Stapp in places where you’d expect to find coconuts and banana bunches. A week before “Summer of ’99” was announced, the four of them made a pact, via group text, that if Creed were ever to reunite, they would make it out to see the band play, no matter the cost. Their fate was sealed.

“I hated Creed. I thought they were terrible,” says Mike Hobey, who, at 28, is the oldest of the posse and therefore the one who possesses the clearest recollection of Creed’s long, strange journey toward absolution. “But then I started listening to them ironically. And I was like, Oh, shit, I like them now .”

His point is indicative of a strange tension in this new age of Creed: If “the worst band of the 1990s” is suddenly good, does that mean all music is good now? Is nothing tacky? Have the digitized music discovery apparatuses—the melting-pot TikTok algorithm, the self-replicating profusion of Spotify playlists—blurred the boundaries of good and bad taste? Am I, like Hobey, incapable of being a hater anymore?

This is what I found myself thinking about when Creed took the stage, right as the Miami skies began to mellow into a late-afternoon smolder, and put on what was, without a doubt, one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen. The scalloped penthouses of Miami’s gleaming hotel district passed overhead as the Pearl ’s rudder kicked into gear, and Scott Stapp—looking jacked and gorgeous, chain on neck and chain on belt, flexing toward God in a tight black shirt—launched into “Are You Ready?,” the first song of the afternoon, his baritone sounding, somehow, exactly like it did in 1999. “Who would’ve thought, after our last show in 2012, our next show would be 12 years later, on a boat?” Stapp said. He is risen, indeed.

I later hear from Creed’s PR agent that Tremonti, the guitarist, was more anxious than he was excited to get this first show in the books. I also gather, from Stapp’s representative, that photographers are mandated to shoot the lead singer during only the first two songs of the set, before he begins to “glisten” (her word) with sweat. But if nerves were fraying, Creed conquered them with ease. The members of the band were enveloped by an audience that had paid a lot of money to see them, and in that atmosphere, they could do no wrong. They blitzed through a variety of album cuts before arriving at the brawny triptych of “Higher,” “One Last Breath,” and “With Arms Wide Open,” pausing briefly to wish Tremonti, who was turning 50, a happy birthday. (Stapp wiped away tears afterward, a genuinely touching moment, considering that during their first breakup, Tremonti had compared his years collaborating with Stapp—who was then in the throes of addiction— with surviving Vietnam .) Given Creed’s historic proximity to the Kid Rock brand of red-state overindulgence, I half expected the concert to detonate with violent pits and acrobatic beer stunts, but nothing remotely close to mayhem occurred. This crowd was downright polite—chaste, even—as if it had been stunned by the grandeur of Creed.

“He tried to dance pogo ,” says a disappointed German woman, basking in the pool after the show, gesturing toward her husband. Both of them explain to me that pogoing is the German word for “moshing” and that, even more astonishingly, Creed is huge in their native hamlet, just outside Düsseldorf.

“It’s a reunion after 12 years!” says her husband. “Everyone should be dancing pogo .”

Nothing about Creed’s music has changed in the past decade, which is to say that many of the quirks that people like Hobey once used to mock the band for were on brilliant display during its first show back. But the truth is that little of the smug hatred for the group has ever had much to do with the music itself. Creed’s first record, 1997’s My Own Prison , was nearly identical to the down-tuned angst of Soundgarden or Alice in Chains, drawn well inside the lines of alt-rock radio. (It earned a tasteful 4/5 rating from the longtime consumer guide AllMusic.)

The problems arose only after the band started writing the celestial hooks of Human Clay , solidifying its superstar association with other groups chasing the same crunchy highs with machine-learning efficiency: Nickelback, Staind, Shinedown, and so on. Post-grunge was the term music journalists eventually bestowed on this generation, and in retrospect, that was the kiss of death. Creed was suddenly positioned as the inheritor of the legacy of Kurt Cobain, the godfather of grunge, who bristled at all associations with the mainstream music industry and hired the notoriously bellicose Steve Albini to make Nirvana’s third album as sour and uncommercial as possible. Stapp, meanwhile, has long called Bono—he of the flowing locks, billionaire best friends , and residencies in extravagant Las Vegas monoliths —his “ rock god .” Creed’s sole aspiration was to become the biggest rock band in the world, and for a few years there, the group actually pulled it off. Cobain’s grave got a little colder.

Post-grunge steamrolled the rock business, reducing its sonic palette to an all-consuming minor-chord dirge. Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” went quadruple platinum in 2001, eventually sparking a furious period of retaliation from the underground. (You could make the argument that the rise of the Strokes or the White Stripes or the indie-rock boom writ large is directly tied to the vise grip Creed once held on the genre.) Before long, music aesthetes adopted a new term, rather than post-grunge , to refer to the Creed phenotype: butt rock . In fact, by the late-2000s, the hatred of Creed had been so canonized that when Slate published a rebuttal —in which critic Jonah Weiner asserted that the band was “seriously underrated”—the essay was considered so “ridiculous” and contrarian as to single-handedly inspire the viral and enduring #slatepitches hashtag, instantly prompting parodies such as “ Star Wars I, II, & III, better than Star Wars IV, V, & VI .”

But, frankly, when I revisit Weiner’s piece, many of his arguments sound remarkably cogent to modern orthodoxies. “Creed seemed to irritate people precisely because its music was so unabashedly calibrated towards pleasure: Every surging riff, skyscraping chorus, and cathartic chord progression telegraphed the band’s intention to rock us, wow us, move us,” he writes. Yes, these easy gratifications might have been unpardonable sins in the summer of 1999, capping off a decade obsessively preoccupied with anxiety about all things commercial and phony. But now even LCD Soundsystem—once the standard-bearer of a certain kind of countercultural fashionability—is booking residencies sponsored by American Express. We have all become hedonists and proud sellouts, and with Creed back in vogue, it seems as if the band’s monumental intemperance has become a feature rather than a bug.

That does not mean Stapp no longer takes himself, or his art, seriously. The singer’s earnestness—some might say humorlessness—has always been a cornerstone of Creed’s brand, and there are millions of fans who will continue to meet him at his word. They brandish personal biographies that intersect with Creed’s records; they finds lines about places with “golden streets” “where blind men see” more inspiring than corny, and many of them are etched with the tattoos to prove it. But in the band’s contemporary afterlife, when all its old context evaporates, Stapp has also attracted a community eager to treat Creed like the party band it never aspired to be—the group of licentious pleasure seekers Weiner wrote about. They’re all here, sprinkled throughout the boat, ready to drink a couple of Coronas and shred their lungs to “My Sacrifice.”

After wrapping up the first night of the cruise, Creed, along with the rest of the bands on the bill, was scheduled to administer a few glad-handing sessions on the weekend itinerary. On Saturday, Tremonti chaperoned a low-key painting session while the Pearl floated into the Bahamas at a dock already crammed with other day-trippers. (Our boat was parked next to a Disney cruise, and when we disembarked, in direct earshot of all the young families, the PA blasted Puddle of Mudd’s “She Fucking Hates Me.”) Tremonti keeps busy: The previous evening, he had judged a karaoke tournament—on the main stage—alongside 3 Doors Down lead singer Brad Arnold. Toward the end of the competition, Tremonti grabbed the microphone for a rousing cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which I’d like to think served as a tribute to Creed’s own tenaciousness.

Stapp, on the other hand, is slated for exactly one appointment mingling with the masses: He’ll be shooting hoops with some of the more athletically oriented Creed adherents on a helipad that doubles as a basketball court near the rear of the boat. Stapp is, by far, the most famous person on board, evidenced by the security detail that stands guard on the concrete. So I take my seat on the bleachers and watch him casually drain 10 free throws in a row in mesh shorts under the piercing Atlantic sun with the distinct tang of contractually obligated restraint. Afterward, Stapp slips back into the mysterious alcoves of the ship, while an awed buzz of fans—hoping for a selfie, an autograph, or a split second of euphoric surrender—tail him until they are sealed off for good. It is the one and only time I see him cameoing anywhere but the stage, drawing a stark contrast to the other musicians on board, who flit between the casinos, restaurants, and watering holes in the guts of the Pearl .

This makes some sort of cosmic sense. Stapp, to both his detriment and credit, has never embraced the flippancy that so many other people wanted to impose on Creed. “Sometimes I wish we weren’t so damn serious,” he said in a memorable Spin cover story from 2000, at the height of his mystique. “My agenda from the beginning was to write music that had meaning and was from the heart. You can’t force the hand of the muse.” If you’ll excuse the ostentation of the sentiment, you can maybe understand how someone like Stapp might not be able to feel like himself when he’s orchestrating photo-ops around a free-throw line with that same young man dressed in his Nic Cage–themed parody Creed shirt. He seems to find nothing trivial about Creed’s music. The threat of irrelevance shall never tame him. You cannot force the hand of the muse.

Unfortunately, Stapp’s remoteness is also why Kelly Risch, a 58-year-old from Wisconsin with streaks of ringed, white-blond hair and glam-metal eye shadow, is currently fighting back tears in the Atrium, the ship’s lobby and central bar. Risch is sipping mimosas with her sister Shannon Crass, and, like so many of the others I have spoken to on this cruise, they each have matching Creed tattoos memorializing a personal catastrophe. Twenty years ago, Risch suffered a massive blood clot in her leg and almost died. Crass printed out the lyrics to the latter-day Creed ballad “Don’t Stop Dancing”—a song about finding dignity in the chaos of life—and pinned them in Crass’ intensive care unit during her recovery. Today the chorus is painted on their wrists, right above Scott Stapp’s initials.

The sisters were two of the first 500 customers to buy tickets to “Summer of ’99,” which guaranteed them a photo with the band at its cabin. This is why Risch is crying. The photo shoot came with strict rules, all of which she respected: no Sharpies, no hugs, and no cellphones. She’d hoped for a moment, though—after spending $5,000 and traveling all the way from the upper Midwest, after clinging to life with the help of Creed, and after waiting 12 long years to have the band back—to thank the singer for his comfort. But Stapp, even indoors, was wearing dark, face-obscuring sunglasses. She didn’t even get to make eye contact.

“He’s so great with the crowd. He’s so engaging onstage,” says Crass. “I think that’s why this is disappointing.”

The two sisters are determined to make the most of the rest of their vacation. The Pearl will be pulling into Miami tomorrow at 7 a.m., and there are plenty more mimosas left to drink. I tell them I’m going to speak with Stapp, and the rest of Creed, in an hour. Do they have anything they’d like me to ask?

“Tell him not to wear sunglasses during the photos,” they say.

Creed is finishing up the meet-and-greet obligations in a chilly rococo ballroom, paneled—somewhat inexplicably—with portraits of Russian royalty. The band members have been at this all morning, after a late night finishing off the second performance of their two comeback sets. A molasses churn of Creed fans, all sea-weathered and scalded with maroon sunburns, weaves through a bulwark of chairs and tables toward the pinned black curtains at the rear.

Creed has this down to an art. The band is capable of generating a photo every 30 seconds, and afterward, the fans exit back down the aisle, with beaming smiles, their brush with stardom consummated. Stapp chugs a bottle of Fiji water and holds out his hand for a fist bump after the last of those passengers disappear. A crucifix dangles above his navel, and an American flag is stitched to his T-shirt. He’s still wearing those sunglasses.

I am given just 15 minutes to ask questions, in a makeshift interview setup against the portside windows, under the watchful surveillance of the entire Creed apparatus—both PR reps, a few scurrying Sixthman operators, the photographer, and so on. I ask what their day-to-day life is like aboard the “Summer of ’99,” in this highly concentrated environment of super fans, with no obvious escape routes. Stapp says that he has spent most of the time on the cruise “resting and exercising,” while Brian Marshall, the band’s bassist, told me he executes his privilege of being one of the band’s secondary members by frequenting the sauna and steam room. Throughout the weekend, Marshall is hardly recognized.

Scott Phillips, Creed’s drummer, confirms my suspicions about the cruise’s demographics. The ticket data reveals that a good number of the passengers aboard are under 35 years old. I’m curious to know how the band members are adjusting to this new paradigm shift, and if they wish to settle common ground between the post-ironic millennials and the much more zealous Gen Xers, who bear Creed insignias on their calves and forearms.

“People are drawn to our music for different reasons,” Stapp says. “That’s probably why you have the guys you were talking about, who want to chill and drink light beer and scream ‘Creed rocks!’ and the others, who have a much deeper, emotional impact.”

“And maybe, at some point, with the light-beer guys, it does connect with them,” Phillips adds. Stapp agrees.

But, really, the reason I’m here is because I want to ask Stapp a question I’ve been curious about for the entirety of Creed’s career. The band’s bizarre odyssey, from its warm reception among youth groups across America to the bloodthirsty backlash that met its success to this current psychedelic revival, has all orbited around a single lasting question: Why is Scott Stapp so serious? Could he ever mellow out? Does he want to? Surely now is the time. If Stapp allocated some levity for himself, then so many of the bad things people have said about him would be easier to process. Who knows? Maybe he’d have an easier time getting his arms around the current state of Creed, a group that is now, without a doubt, simultaneously the coolest and lamest band in the world. Why must he make being in Creed so difficult?

“It’s just who I am,” he says. “It’s what inspires me. It’s where I come from. And it’s tough, because you have to live it. That’s the conundrum of it all. That’s the double-edged sword. If I started writing [lighter material], there would be a dramatic shift in my existence.”

There’s a break in the conversation, then Stapp asks me to identify the name of the new Taylor Swift album. The songwriter’s 11 th record has dropped like a nuclear bomb while we’ve all been out to sea, but data restrictions mean that nobody on board can access Spotify or any other streaming service. The Norwegian Pearl serves as a butt-rock pocket dimension: The biggest story in pop music simply can’t penetrate our airtight seal of Hinder, Staind, and so much Creed. “It’s called The Tortured Poets Department ,” I reply. Outside of my fiancée, he is the only person on the entire cruise I will speak to about Taylor Swift.

“That’s what I feel,” he says, without a shred of artifice. “I connect with that title.”

Later that evening, I climb to the top of the Pearl for a final round of karaoke, where fans keep the spirit of 1999 alive for a few more hours. The bar is more hectic than it’s been all trip—everyone is willing to risk a hangover now that Monday is all that looms on the horizon. The host asks a guest if they intended to sing “Torn” by Creed or “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia. “I assume Creed, but Natalie would be a fun surprise.”

The playlist is more diverse than I expected. We are treated to both Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’ ” and Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” Brandon Smith, one of the very few people of color aboard the cruise, crushes Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved.” A lanky kid from St. Louis unleashes a Slipknot death-growl into the microphone. A queer couple quietly slow-dances on the otherwise empty dance floor. And a 16-year-old, teeth tightened by braces, orders his last Sprite of the night. “Rockers are the most awesome people!” shouts one transcendently inebriated guest over the clamor of his Rolling Stones cover. “Creed is awesome!” On this one thing, at least, we can all agree.

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June 6 , 2024

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Forget star wars and assassin's creed, there's one game i really want to see at ubisoft forward 2024.


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  • Ubisoft Forward showcases promise Assassin's Creed & Star Wars Outlaws, but fans eagerly await Splinter Cell remake.
  • The upcoming Splinter Cell remake by Ubisoft Toronto brings hope to fans of the beloved stealth game series.
  • Fans have waited patiently for a new entry in the Splinter Cell series since 2013 and are eager for the remake to be revealed.

It's June, and to gamers across the world that means one thing: Game showcases. What was once the month of E3 has now been overtaken by Summer Game Fest, with individual studios hosting their own showcases across their various YouTube and Twitch channels, and this year already has a stacked roster. However, there is one event I am keeping an eye on in particular, and that's the Ubisoft Forward .

After giving players a proper look at Assassin's Creed: Shadows ' characters and story through a cinematic trailer in May, the trailers for the Ubisoft Forward have focused heavily on showing more from the next entry in the Assassin's Creed series, with the strong possibility that gameplay will be shown. There has also been confirmation that the previously announced Star Wars Outlaws will appear at the event, which makes sense as the game is due to be released this August and will likely have some kind of final trailer to remind players of the game's pre-order bonuses and different editions . While I am personally looking forward to both of these titles, the trailers do also tease " more ", however, and there's one particular title that Ubisoft announced years ago that I am keen to see more than any other: the Splinter Cell remake.

Three characters from the Tom Clancy series overlaid into one image. Scott Mitchell from Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Logan Keller from Rainbow Six: Vegas, and Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell.

The Best Tom Clancy Games From The Franchise's Golden Era

In the mid-to-late 2000s, Tom Clancy dominated modern military gaming. With a new Splinter Cell coming, it's worth revisiting the series' golden age.

Will Splinter Cell Finally Make An Appearance At Ubisoft Forward 2024?

The remake was announced in december 2021.

Splinter Cell Remake - Early concept art - Sam Fisher observing enemies at the Oil Rig

Splinter Cell is one of my favorite game series - particularly the first three, although I have revisited some of the later titles as well - with Chaos Theory being my personal favorite, and its Bank mission being perhaps one of my most played missions ever, due to just how cool it is. Therefore, when Ubisoft Toronto announced that it was working on a remake of the first game with modern hardware, I was cautiously optimistic. While I was glad Ubisoft was returning to one of my favorite series, remakes can be very hit-or-miss, but I was still keen to see more due to how far development tools have come since the original game in 2002.

When the original Splinter Cell was released, its dynamic lighting mechanics were considered to be revolutionary, with Sam Fisher shooting out lights to create shadows and form his own path around levels undetected. Of course, with newer real-time lighting advancements such as ray-tracing , this could look better than ever, and recent rumors have stated that ray-traced reflections and other features add further obstacles for players to be considerate of as they work their way around the environments.

While the Ubisoft Forward reveals have focused heavily on Assassin's Creed Shadows and Star Wars Outlaws , Ubisoft Toronto changed its profile picture and banners on social media to Sam Fisher's iconic green tri-lense night-vision goggles around the time of the showcase's announcement as well, which gives me hope that the remake could make an appearance at the event. Word surrounding the game has been extremely sparse since its announcement, barring some concept art released as part of the original title's 20th Anniversary celebration in 2022 , but with the game being in development for under three years by this point, I'm hoping there will at least be a proper trailer or some gameplay footage, if not a release window of some kind.

Splinter Cell Remake Might Be Good Not Open World Stealth Gameplay Sam Fisher

Why Ubisoft's Splinter Cell Remake Actually Might Work

Ubisoft has confirmed that the upcoming Splinter Cell remake won't be open world, which is a good sign that the project may be on the right lines.

Splinter Cell Fans Have Been Waiting Far Too Long For A New Game

Blacklist was released in 2013.

The late 90s and 2000s were a great time for stealth games. We had the Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter series, and Splinter Cell , but over the years these have gradually come to an end. Syphon Filter developers Bend Studio went on to develop the open-world zombie title Days Gone , and Metal Gear Solid fell apart after its creator Hideo Kojima parted ways with Konami during the production of T he Phantom Pain , with Konami's ill-fated Metal Gear Survive showing the studio shouldn't carry on the franchise without Kojima at the helm, which is likely why the only Metal Gear products that have come out since have been ports of the earlier games in the series, and a remake of Snake Eater , which will reportedly include the original's audio and story.

As for Splinter Cell , us fans have been waiting for a new entry since the release of the divisive Blacklist in 2013, which I would argue wasn't actually that bad and actively tried to bring the series back to stealth after the more action-packed Conviction by at least giving players more gadgets and equipment and the option to go through levels completely undetected again. I'll admit I did find the voice change from Michael Ironside to Eric Johnson jarring at first, and the excuse that it was done purely for better performance capture didn't sit well considering other titles such as Hitman involved motion capture, but also brought back David Bateson to voice its protagonist. However, once it was revealed in an interview on the Ubisoft North America YouTube channel that Ironside stepped away from the role due to battling cancer, it became clear that this was the only choice the studio had at the time, and Ironside has since returned to the role in Ghost Recon Wildlands .

Ubisoft has clearly been aware of how popular the Splinter Cell IP is, as Sam Fisher has made further cameos in other games , appearing in Rainbow Six Siege and the ill-fated mobile title Tom Clancy's Elite Squad. However, the series itself has been in limbo, which has been extremely frustrating, likely because its more linear level structure didn't fit in with the kind of open-world games the company was becoming more well known for. At least all of the titles - including both the Xbox and Xbox 360 versions of Double Agent - have been available via Xbox's backwards compatibility scheme, so I have been able to easily revisit them while waiting extremely patiently for a new entry.

Most of the Splinter Cell games are also on PC, but with the lighting issues Pandora Tomorrow faced over the years, Ubisoft has pulled the second game in the series from any digital storefront, meaning it's incomplete on the platform. Maybe if the Splinter Cell remake is successful, Ubisoft could look to Pandora Tomorrow next and finally bring that back to all platforms again.

While it's unclear whether Ubisoft is using Ironside's original recordings in the remake, if he is returning to the role, or if another actor like Jeff Teravainen - who voices the character in Rainbow Six Siege - or Eric Johnson would take over the role going forward, just the fact Ubisoft is looking to properly revisit the series with a new release that is following the structure of the original gives me some hope for the future of the Splinter Cell franchise for the first time in over a decade. Alas, now I just want to actually see the remake in action to see if this hope is justified, and hopefully, this will finally happen at Ubisoft 's event on June 10.

Source: Ubisoft North America

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

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Maureen Dowd

The Verdict Is In on the Supreme Court

A statue of Justice sits before Corinthian columns of the Supreme Court, illuminated by a red flash.

By Maureen Dowd

Opinion Columnist, reporting from Washington

After Donald Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts in a Manhattan court, conservatives — from Marjorie Taylor Greene to George Santos to the Heritage Foundation — began posting upside-down American flags on X in solidarity with the “political prisoner,” as Trump absurdly styles himself.

It was the same upside-down symbol that insurrectionists carried to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to proclaim that they thought the election was stolen and that was seen flying over Justice Samuel Alito’s house in suburban Virginia even as the Supreme Court was considering whether to hear a case about the 2020 presidential election.

Now that it’s being used to show support for a felonious ex-president, Alito will have an even harder time trying to pretend he’s oblivious about its meaning.

I don’t need a black robe to hand down a judgment on the Supreme Court.

It’s corrupt, rotten and hurting America.

The once august court, which the public held in highest esteem, is now hopelessly corroded: It is in the hands of a cabal of religious and far-right zealots, including a couple of ethical scofflaws with MAGA wives.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who dreamed of being remembered as a great unifier of the court, is refusing to rein in Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas, who are thumbing their noses at the public and their own oaths to dispense fair and impartial justice.

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    1 -877- 487- 2778 (T D D /T T Y : 1- 888- 874- 7793) or N P IC @ stat e. gov . S E C T IO N A . E L IG IB IL IT Y T O U S E T H IS F O R M This form is used to apply for a U.S. passport book and/or card in person at an acceptance facility, a passport agency (by a ppointment only), or a U.S. embassy, consulate, or consular agency (if abroad). ...

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  27. Opinion

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