Rambo author David Morrell has explained why a planned TV show based on the character didn’t move forward. Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood focused on the character John Rambo, a returning Vietnam veteran who launches a personal war on a small town when he comes to blows with a bullying sheriff.
Before Sylvester Stallone was brought aboard, filmmakers tried adapting First Blood for years, with actors like Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman being tipped for the main role. Once Stallone ultimately took the part, the character was made more sympathetic for the movie and subsequent sequels would reinvent Rambo as the ultimate one-man army. Now, 36 years since First Blood's release, filming has began on Rambo 5: Last Blood, which will likely be Stallone’s final time playing the character. However, it wouldn't have been the only series follow-up in recent years, considering that a planned TV series originally conceived by Rambo's original creator was once in the works.
David Morrell recently revealed that he and Stallone had collaborated on a story for Rambo 5 a few years ago, but when it was rejected by producers, Stallone briefly retired from the franchise. Shortly after this, a TV show dubbed Rambo: New Blood, as well a movie reboot rumored to be a prequel, went into development, though neither were officially greenlit. During an interview with Digital Spy, Morrell explained that Stallone would have possibly starred in a supporting role, with the central character being his son. However, though Morrell envisioned the son returning home from war like his father in the first movie, he couldn't craft a compelling enough story that would live up to the original. He said:
"Never mind that the whole point is that Rambo had been so traumatized by the war that he couldn't bring himself to have a meaningful relationship, let alone have a child. But we'll just forget about all that. Basically, [Rambo's son] was going to be someone in civilian life with military skills who did... what? Right wrongs? Was he going to be a version of The Equaliser? I couldn't figure it out. So to my knowledge, that never went anywhere."
No mention of Rambo having a child is made in any of the movies, and the character is traditionally depicted as the ultimate loner. And, while the idea of Rambo bonding with an estranged son over their mutual trauma could potentially make for an interesting drama, crafting an action series around around the concept proved difficult, and Stallone's involvement was never guaranteed. Adding to further complications between Morrell and the future of the Rambo series, the author also recently spoke of his disappointment over his idea for Rambo 5: Last Blood being rejected, noting that it had potential to be a more soulful ending to the series. The current story finds Rambo in Mexico to rescue a friend’s kidnapped daughter while coming to blows with a brutal cartel.
In this planned TV show, Rambo Jr. could have potentially been some kind of vigilante figure, as Morrell had considered, but this direction risked being too much of a departure from the series. So, as disappointing as it might be to take the Rambo franchise in a direction that distances itself from the original creator, it's entirely possible that director Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo) has created a worthy sendoff for the Lone Wolf.
Source: Digital Spy