Jonathan Major's first big movie was the "Ant-Man" sequel two weeks ago, and he's already back with his second, "Creed III."

Majors, whose other films include "Devotion" and "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," plays Damian Anderson, whose relationship to Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) takes a little while to emerge. That they eventually meet in a prizefight already has been revealed by ads for "Creed III" but the details are best left to the movie.

One thing you can tell from those ads is that, just as in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," Majors is magnetic. The actor is not quite as low-key here as he was in "Ant-Man" but he uses intense eye contact and off-kilter line readings to indicate that Damian may not be who he seems to be. He makes friendly comments sound menacing and threats sound genial — like when he compliments Creed's musician wife on her work but also insinuates that she's overshadowed by her husband.

A lot of what Majors has to do as Damian does not make sense, beginning with the whopper that his first fight in more than a decade is for the world heavyweight title.

"Creed III" moves really fast, packing about a TV season's worth of developments into two hours. That includes a subplot that seems designed to prepare us for "Creed VIII" in about a decade, when the title character's pugnacious daughter joins the family boxing dynasty.

It's never dull but there are times when the sharp cast, including Tessa Thompson as Adonis' wife and Phylicia Rashad as his mom-with-an-ominous-cough, must work overtime to make us believe in the improbable.

"Creed III" is entertaining enough but it has a marking-time quality, like those superhero movies that are less about telling a story than setting up mythology for future spinoffs.

It's hard to imagine that Jordan will play Creed many more times, so maybe the plan is to hand off the series to Majors? (Since the same is happening for his Kang in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that would make him a very busy guy. P.S. He would be a fantastic 007, as long as we're signing him up to take over franchises.)

Although Jordan isn't given much to do as an actor — other than having to look good in an adult frog costume (mission: accomplished) — he does take the directing reins for the first time. The fine performances are a tribute to his directing skill, as are the riveting boxing sequences. He seems to have studied the intensity of "Raging Bull," from which he borrows a technique where the film shifts to slow motion in the middle of bouts as a way of helping us notice brutal boxing tactics.

I'd call the movie a split decision. It falters occasionally but, in the end, "Creed III" wins.

'Creed III'

**1/2 out of 4 stars

Rated: PG-13 for strong violence and language.

Where: Only in theaters.