Sylvester Stallone is known for playing heroes as typical as they come. His characters just don’t fall, irrespective of the hurdles.

In Rocky (1976), the journey of Stallone’s character started as a small-time boxer who makes the most of the opportunity to fight a heavyweight champion. Three decades later, Rocky Balboa still managed to bow out of the ring with his head and one arm held high.

Dolph Lundgren as Drago in Rocky.

Similarly, John Rambo, an army veteran, seemed all but beaten in 1982, but he was miraculously still going strong in 2019 in Rambo: Last Blood.

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How Sylvester Stallone Altered the Ending of First Blood

Sylvester Stallone has plenty of acting credits in the bag across his four-decade-long career, but he’s chiefly cherished for bringing the characters of Rocky and Rambo to the big screen. His trademark Italian accent (a bit like Robert De Niro in Goodfellas), dreamy eyes, and powerful action sequences are loved by millions across generations.

Sylvester Stallone in First Blood.
Sylvester Stallone in First Blood.

However, one-half of Stallone (Rambo) was slated to originally die in the very first chapter (First Blood) of the iconic franchise itself. Based on David Morell’s novel of the same title, the Vietnam War soldier dies both in the book as well as the original script. Hope Sheriff Will Teasle catches Rambo by surprise and shoots him in the stomach.

Still, the idea was ditched in the final cut, as it was assumed the audience wouldn’t find seeing the hero die in the end. Director Ted Kotcheff recalled the stunning development (via Entertainment Weekly):

“We shot [the original ending]. It was incredibly moving, after all we’d been through. Sylvester got up and said, ‘Ted, can I talk to you for a second?’ He said, ‘You know, Ted, we put this character through so much….All this, and now we’re gonna kill him? I said, ‘Sylvester has a point.”

The script of Kotcheff’s movie was rewritten and showed the much-loved protagonist shooting Teasle. But rather than killing him, he decides to instead surrender.

Most importantly, Stallone didn’t surrender to the book’s script and stretched the franchise till 2019, making a combined $818 million in box office collection across five chapters.

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Sylvester Stallone Explains Why He Revived Rambo After Rambo 4

As mentioned at the very beginning, Stallone is a typical hero; he never falls. Subsequently he also never rests.

Sylvester Stallone.
Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone gave Rambo a very soothing ending in Rambo 4 (2008), as the once down-trodden soldier returns to the United States to visit his father. However, another decade later, the 77-year-old revived the character. Explaining the decision, Stallone said:

“You can totally end the story with him going home, having that shot of him going down the driveway, which is completion. But a character like that — does he ever really go home? I jotted down on a Post-It: “He came home, but he never arrived,” and I went, there’s a movie here. The warrior can never find peace. He just can’t.”

The fifth installment of the Rambo franchise came in 2019, Rambo: Last Blood, and despite the apparently revealing title, the ending shows Rambo surviving his fight against a Mexican cartel and riding off his horse in the final shot.

However, its performance at the box office was absolutely frustrating, as it earned the least amount of money of all Rambo movies, indicating sometimes it’s important to kill heroes (or let them rest) at the right time.

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Source: Variety

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