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  • Alternative Character Interpretation
    • Who is Ivan Drago, anyway? It's implied that he's been bred to box, has had steroids and blood-doping up the wazoo, and is supposed to support the State 24/7. He's treated like an object by his government and we're never told what he wants. When he says "I must break you", he means it - he must because he has no options. When he says, "If he dies, he dies", is he talking about Apollo or himself? Creed II would eventually confirm this was indeed the case, as his loss to Rocky completely ruined his life for this very reason.
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    • An interpretation of Apollo Creed is that he's fed up with retirement and growing old gracefully, and wants to go out fighting like a warrior. Some dialogue in Creed strongly implies this is the case.
    • It's possible that the Villain Has a Point moments mentioned on the main page were intentional, and that Stallone was trying to paint the Americans and Soviets as Not So Different in their fanatical patriotism and aggressiveness. Trouble is, if this were true, it's undermined by the Soviet characters being such cartoonish strawmen.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
  • Creator Backlash: A minor example; Stallone (who directed) was happy with how the film came out, but has mentioned he's regretted not having Bill Conti compose the score.
  • Contested Sequel: Possibly the most polarizing entry in the franchise, with seemingly equal amounts of defenders and detractors. While its fans love the emotional story of Rocky avenging Apollo, the training montages and soundtrack, and Ivan Drago, its critics bring up issues with the tone being a severe contrast to the earlier films, as well as the rather cartoonish patriotism and depiction of the Soviet Union. And there are some who admit that the film is heavily flawed, but can't help but enjoy it due to the sheer '80s cheese and over-the-top awesomeness on display.
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  • Fair for Its Day: As with most Cold War-era films featuring Russians as the villains, the Russians are cartoonish, but Rocky's speech at the end is notable in calling for peace between the two nations rather than simply being satisfied with victory.
  • Fight Scene Failure: Just to give you an idea how hard these guys were punching, sometimes the punch didn't even land but their head flew back anyways, like from the air or something.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • As if Apollo's death wasn't bad enough, thirty years later we learn about the effect it had on his unborn son in the spin-off film Creed.
    • Then there is Rocky's "You'd never be rid of me" promise to Adrian. Cue Rocky Balboa decade's later.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The depiction of the new (at the time) Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev. While Gorbachev wasn't exactly "nice," his public persona made him look like a peaceful wise leader. And this worked extremely well in America and elsewhere in the West (the infamous "Gorbymania"), making his depiction in this movie hilariously stand out.
    • In the Japanese dub of the film, or at least in the regular dubbed version of it, both Apollo and Drago were voiced by Kenji Utsumi and Norio Wakamoto respectively. Both actors previously worked before together as Raoh and Shuren respectively in Fist of the North Star. The hilarity came with the fact in FOTNS Raoh kills Shuren when the latter tries to kill Raoh in a suicide attack towards him. In Rocky IV, the roles are inverted this time, and "Shuren" (Drago) returns the favor towards "Raoh" (Apollo).
    • Turns out in this movie Rocky had a robot before Tommy Gunn.
  • It Was His Sled: Apollo dies.
  • Memetic Badass: Ivan Drago. A lot of Youtube comments joke that an sniper was prepared to kill him, but either him or the bullet were too scared to go near him.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Drago's No Holds Barred Beat Down of Apollo, resulting in his death. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment is he pushes away the referee who was trying to break it up, implying he consciously meant to kill Apollo. What he say's afterwards grinds in what kind of person he is.
  • Narm Charm: The overwrought tragedy of Apollo's death, the outdated Cold War patriotism, the cartoonish Russians, and the Rocky's Anvilicious speech are all generally taken by fans as part of the film's appeal.
  • Strawman Political: One of the most cartoonishly negative depictions of the USSR in American media, which is saying something. The Russian characters are a near-silent, hulking muscleman with little empathy towards his opponents, his wife who smiles gleefully when Apollo dies, and their Jerkass promoter, a Communist functionary who spends the whole film baiting Apollo, Rocky and insulting America.
  • Vindicated by History: Sort of. It's still considered a terrible film by many, but the way Creed was able to use Apollo's death to launch its own story, which is now regarded as the best the series has been since the first film, gives it a more respectable place in the franchise.

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