I think what is most interesting about Rocky is the way that many American icons were used by Apollo Creed and his team. When Mac Lee Green drops out of the Bicentennial fight, Creed now views the fight as a moneymaking opportunity by manipulating the American public through our icons. The fight was always about race for Apollo, but now, by exploiting American’s pride in the underdog to sell Rocky Balboa as a contender beyond his race, he’s “guaranteed” to win, therefore making a ton of money while still fulfilling his ambition to win a fight against a white man. Balboa is white and Italian, which Apollo thinks would be the perfect person to beat on the Bicentennial, celebrating America’s foundation, because he represents those that first discovered America. The money is a plus. At the same time, Creed taps into patriotism with other American icons to win American’s favor, while, again, still maintaining his racial message. By dressing up as George Washington and Uncle Sam, he says, “I, a black man, too can represent America.” Surrounding himself with black Statues of Liberty, he says, “All black people can, too, represent America.” Creed even wears the colors of the American flag on his shorts as a constant reminder of his patriotism. The Bicentennial fight is a show for Creed to make a statement and money, and patriotism is his character.
At first, Americans buy into his patriotism and his superiority as a fighter, admiring the underdog for his courage, but knowing he probably won’t win against the champion who has never fallen from a hit. However Balboa puts up a fight, and American’s favor shifts to routing for the underdog. But who will win? Rocky is a battle between patriotism and the American underdog story. As both are necessary representations of America, neither Creed nor Balboa can win. So patriotism and the underdog story tie.