Sylvester Stallone’s been in a lot of blockbuster franchises over the years, and it’s probably fair to say you don’t make that many huge movies without a mistake here and there slipping through. During the lead-up to this week’s release of Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago, Stallone has admitted to what he thinks was a huge mistake. According to Stallone, he never should have killed off Carl Weathers’ character, Apollo Creed.
Speaking in the new documentary The Making of Rocky vs Drago, Sylvester Stallone said if he had the chance to go back in time and remake the movie, he wouldn’t have killed Apollo Creed. He called the decision “foolish,” and explained “I thought I needed that kind of springboard to project the drama on this really great powerful velocity forward.” Instead, Stallone said, Apollo should have survived his fight with Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), but been injured to the point that he would need a wheelchair. You can watch the documentary below.
Leaving Apollo alive but unable to box anymore, Stallone said, would create the opportunity for the character to become the new version of Mickey — Rocky’s coach who played by Burgess Meredith who dies in 1982’s Rocky III. Sylvester Stallone said “we would have seen a different side of Apollo. He could have opened up to all these other things that we didn’t even know about, because he’s now in a wheelchair. And he would have kind of been a father figure, mentor, brother.” Asked about how Stallone thinks Carl Weathers will react to the news he might’ve not only survived the rest of Rocky IV, but had the shot to appear in the two sequels — 1990’s Rocky V and 2006’s Rocky Balboa — Stallone said, “he’s gonna be pissed off. Very pissed off.”
John Herzfeld, the doc’s director, points out to Sylvester Stallone that if Apollo Creed had survived Rocky IV, the trajectory for of the ongoing story of Rocky Balboa may have shifted considerably, perhaps not even making the stories of the sequels possible. ScreenCrush adds that the Creed movies — starring Michael B. Jordan as Apollo’s son Adonis — likewise might never have happened, or at the very least would have been very different. There’s no word on whether or not it would have impacted Weathers’ epic appearances as himself in Arrested Development, but it seems likely the influence would be minimal.
Carl Weathers first stars as Apollo Creed at the franchise’s start, in 1976’s Rocky, as the titular boxer’s antagonist. Apollo wins his climactic match against the hero in a decision, but Rocky finally knocks him out in 1979’s Rocky II. In Rocky III — after the death of Rocky Balboa’s coach — Creed steps in to help Sylvester Stallone’s character train for his rematch with the merciless Clubber Lang (Mr. T). Finally, in Rocky IV, a retired Apollo returns to the boxing ring with Rocky as his coach, incensed at the growing fame of the stone-faced Soviet boxer Ivan Drago. Even though it’s only an exhibition match, Drago takes the contest very seriously and beats his opponent to death. Consumed with guilt for not throwing in the towel before things went too far, Rocky travels to the Soviet Union and defeats Drago on his home turf.
Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago hits theaters as a Fathom event tomorrow, November 11. The film will be available on demand the following day. According to Deadline, Stallone has added 40 minutes of unseen footage in the new cut though, sadly, none of it will resurrect Apollo Creed.