|“||I must break you.||„|
|~ Ivan Drago's infamous catchphrase.|
|“||Because of you, I lose everything: country... respect.... and wife. You ever see stray dogs in Ukraine? They go for days with no food, people spit on them, they are nothing. No home, only will to survive... to fight. I have a son. All he knows... (raises his fists) ...is this. My son will break your boy!||„|
|~ Ivan Drago confronting Rocky Balboa for defeating him years ago.|
Ivan Drago (Russian: Иван Драго) is a major antagonist in the Rocky film series. He appears as the main antagonist of both the 1985 film Rocky IV, and the 2018 film Creed II. He was a former Soviet military captain and amateur boxing champion bent on defeating Rocky Balboa.
Drago was a boxing champion from Russia (part of the Soviet Union at the time) and a captain in the Soviet military, known to have superhuman strength that allowed him to rise himself into the ranks of Soviet boxing history. His wife Ludmilla Drago acted as his spokesperson during interviews and press conferences, which Drago's manager Nicolai Koloff also used to run down America and boast of Soviet superiority in propagandistic fashion.
Drago first appeared arriving to America with his wife and manager as he intended to fight famed boxer champion Rocky in an exhibition match to prove Soviet boxers superior in combat to Americans. However, the former champion named Apollo Creed (who was also a friend of Rocky) decides to come out from retirement to fill in for Rocky as he wants to refute Drago's intentions to the world. During an exhibition match between Creed and Apollo at Las Vegas, Drago coldly to states to Apollo that he will lose before the fight begins. Apollo initially had the upper hand, but Drago's super-strength proved to be lethal when Drago easily punches Apollo down in the second round, killing him instantly. Boasting over his victory, Drago shows no remorse over Apollo's death by saying "If he dies.... he dies.". This event was what drove an angry Rocky to swear revenge on Drago for Apollo's death.
Deciding that he has to make Drago pay for what he did, Rocky is forced to give up the title so that he can enter an exhibition match against Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day. As such, Drago trains himself for the event, even getting himself injected with steroids by his trainers Manuel Vega and Sergei Rimsky to intensify his strength. During the match, Drago seemed to have the upper hand, but Rocky manages to fight back, earning the respect of the Soviet audience. An angry Koloff berates Drago for letting this happen, but an angry Drago pushes off Koloff, renouncing his loyalty to the Soviets by saying that he will fight to win for himself and nothing else. However, in the final round, Rocky avenges Apollo's death by defeating Drago with a knockout punch, leaving Drago in utter defeat.
Although Drago does not physically appear in the film, it is revealed that his blows left Rocky with brain damage (specifically diagnosed as cavum septi pellucidi (CSP)), causing him to mistake people, see visions and various other things. As such, Rocky is forced to retire from boxing to prevent any further damage while Drago is left as a complete disgrace by the entire Soviet community for his loss. During his fight with Tommy Gunn arranged by George Washington Duke, Rocky witnesses a vision of Drago killing Apollo as he believes he is about to suffer the same fate at Tommy's hands until he was inspired by a vision of his old trainer Mickey telling him to get up and finish the fight by defeating both Tommy and Duke.
Drago returns in the film, revealing that he and Ludmilla had a son named Viktor Drago and Ludmilla divorced him, leaving him to raise Viktor as a lethal boxer in the streets of Ukraine. Upon learning that Creed's son Adonis Johnson-Creed (who is also Rocky's protege) had become one of the most professional boxers in the world, Drago takes action by training Viktor to defeat Adonis in a challenge in hopes of bringing back glory to the Drago name. He also hoped the imminent event would help him get his revenge on Rocky for defeating him in the ring at least 33 years ago. Even upon meeting Adonis in person, Drago comments that he was shorter than his father much to Adonis' outrage.
During the first match between Adonis and Viktor, Drago watches in satisfaction as Viktor badly injured Adonis, but Viktor gets disqualified for this, much to Drago's dismay. Despite the disqualification, Drago finds himself to be back in good graces with the Russian delegates due to Viktor's efforts as he and Viktor are invited to dinner with them. However, Viktor storms out in disgust upon the arrival of Ludmilla as he is furious at her for abandoning him, even berating his father for trying to earn back the respect from the people who abandoned him. Despite this, Drago assures that it will all change when Viktor defeats Adonis in the upcoming rematch.
As such, Drago puts Viktor through suffering physical tests to prepare for the rematch. However, Rocky gives Adonis special training that requires equal blows, which allows Adonis to compromise against Viktor's blows in the rematch. As such, Adonis is able to pound Viktor, and Ludmilla decides to depart away from the scene. Upon witnessing this and seeing Viktor emotionally overwhelmed by Ludmilla's departure, Drago is horrified that Viktor will suffer Apollo's fate and is forced to concede defeat to Adonis by throwing in the towel to spare Viktor from further pain. Deciding that his relationship with Viktor is more important than his desire for revenge and glory and the fact that Viktor already defeated Adonis in the first match, Drago comforts a distraught Viktor by telling him that it's okay to lose and that he's still proud of him.
Drago is last seen returning to Ukraine with Viktor as they continue training with each other, hoping to improve their relationship for the better; even as Adonis paid a visit to Apollo's grave, he credited both Drago and Viktor for pushing him the opportunity to prove himself to the world and create his own legacy.
While Drago was originally introduced as the pride of the Soviet Union and praised as a hero, Drago does not seem to care much for his country. When his manager began to talk down to Drago for letting an American be cheered for in their country, Drago lifts him in the air by the throat and throws him away, revealing he only fights for himself and nothing else. Driven by his desire to be the best at all costs, this single-minded manner in which he pursues this goal almost deprives him of his humanity. Many viewers and critics have suggested that Drago was meant to symbolize America's perception of Russia: immense, powerful, and emotionless. This is made evident by his cold-blooded pulverization of Creed in an exhibition match as well as by his callous reaction towards news of his opponent's death.
Despite his ruthlessness, Drago did love and care for his son Viktor, even willing to spare him a humiliating defeat by literally throwing in the towel. He is even more disgusted towards Ludmilla for abandoning him and Viktor when the latter was an infant.
- In a deleted scene following the aftermath of the rematch in Creed II, Drago witnessed Adonis expressing his sympathy towards Viktor in the locker room over the latter's loss and Ludmilla's departure. As such, Drago sadly watches as Adonis leaves while quietly nodding to Rocky for training Adonis to become a better fighter, somewhat hinting a sense of remorse for killing Apollo. Whatever reason why this scene was deleted remains unknown.
- The character and his catchphrases went on to inspire multiple mentions in popular culture (such as the comic parody film Disaster Movie) as well as the name of the Michigan heavy metal band If He Dies He Dies.
- His promises to "break" his opponents were similar to Bane's constant references to the fact he "broke" Batman once before. Ironically, both cases involved the "breaking" of the villains' adversaries non-figuratively (Drago killing Apollo and giving Rocky brain damage by punching them; Bane snapping Batman's spine by bending him over his knee).
- In an episode of Family Guy, Brian Griffin had a montage which was a parody of Rocky's montage to the song "Heart's on Fire" and when Brian got to the top of the mountain he yelled Drago's name the same way Rocky did.
- He is 6'5 and 243 lbs.