United States, World

Rocky Balboa, War Hero

Imagine two of the world’s most powerful countries fighting head to head, what would this look like?  Arguably the best depiction of this would be the Cold War, and even more so the film Rocky 4, released in 1985, which provides audiences with a literal fight between the United States and the Soviet Union.  The Cold War was one of the most bitter wars fought in history, due to the rivalries of opposing countries and world powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. The film Rocky 4 does an outstanding job of providing underlying themes that can be applied to the Cold War and the two powerful countries themselves.  


This image portrays two leaders of each opposing country arm wrestling while sitting on top of nukes, while President Kennedy appears to have his finger over the launch button.

The Cold War was a battle indirectly fought between the United States and the Soviet Union, that lasted from the years 1947-1991.  The main reasons behind the start of the Cold War were Arms build ups of nuclear weapons and leftover grievances that formed in World War II.  Although the countries never fought on each other’s own soil, they managed to battle indirectly through other wars that occurred in the same time frame as the Cold War.  These wars included the Korean War and the Vietnam War, they were fought by the U.S. to contain and prevent the expansion of Communism in both countries. Throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s the Cold War was even being fought in space.  The United States and Soviet Union were both competing with each other’s own expansions into the Earth’s atmosphere. After the Soviet Union became the first country to launch a satellite into space the U.S. quickly responded by successfully sending their own satellite into space a year later.  Shortly after the U.S. again became second place in the space race, this time with sending a man into space, President Kennedy stated “…That the U.S. would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade” (Kennedy 1961). Kennedy was correct and the U.S. landed Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969, becoming the first country between the two to have a man on the moon.  This led to the Americans being perceived as winners in the space race and contributed to the bitterness the USSR had for Americans. With tensions rising over the years between each opposing country, aspects of their bitter rivalry became even more prevalent in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the British House of Commons in 1982 referring to the USSR as an ‘evil empire’ when he stated “ ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire” (Reagan 1982).  The leader of the United States publicly referred to his country’s rival enemy as an evil empire and eventually did so again later in his presidency in 1983. This clearly shows the tension that was experienced between the U.S. and USSR during the 80’s that potentially had an effect on the popular 80’s film Rocky IV.

Here Rocky is seen to be delivering a crippling blow to his Communist Rival, Ivan Drago in the film Rocky IV.

The plotline in the Movie Rocky IV consists of the main character, and an American Boxing Hero, Rocky battling against Soviet Boxer Ivan Drago after Drago mercilessly killed Rocky’s fellow American Boxer and Ex-Rival Apollo Creed.  After Creed is killed by the Russian fighter Rocky is determined to defeat and publicly humiliate him in front of the world at what would be the most highly anticipated sports event ever experienced. Ivan Drago is an outstanding boxer and army captain for the USSR.  Throughout the film Drago is depicted to be injecting steroids during training sessions, which is blatantly cheating and along with other reasons allows the audience to easily perceive him as the villian. It is very easy for the audience to understand what is being implied about the Soviet Union and apply it to real life and the Cold War.  While in the film Ivan Drago is a cheater, who plays dirty and even killed another man in the ring, Rocky Balboa is a hard-working, All-American, hero. These characters represent their own countries of the Soviet Union and the United States and prove to be applicable to the real world, and even shows how many Americans felt about the Russians during this period of the Cold War.  Even the script is biased in proving that the American Rocky is good and pure when he says meaningful things such as “Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.” This represents American ideals and promotes American culture. On the other end of the script Ivan Drago is saying things that sound barbaric such as “If he dies, he dies.”  With no regard for human life the Russian Fighter again proves how dirty of a player he truly is. It isn’t difficult to see how the film strongly suggests that the SOviets are immoral and not justified in their actions compared to the perfect, good-hearted Americans. Ultimately Rocky Fights Drago in Moscow, Russia in front of countless Soviet Leaders and defeats along with humiliates the Russian cheater in front of his countrymen and the world.  This fight is uncannily familiar to the Cold War and what the U.S. wants to do to Russia in the real world.

Rocky IV accurately represents the tensions experienced between the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War.  Many themes throughout the movie are more than applicable to real world events that occurred during the Cold War.  Today in our world we can see familiar forms of movie propaganda, for example the new movie Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence.  In the film Lawrence plays a manipulative Russian spy where we can again see themes of cheating and dishonesty being applied to Russian characters.  If one were to watch this film ask yourself what other similarities can be seen between Red Sparrow and Rocky IV, what underlying themes are present, and how can you perceive them?

Article by Drew Delbrouck & Video by Calista Hudson

Works Cited




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