Arguably one of the most popular action franchises of all time, the Rambo series has definitely gone through some noticeable changes in the 30-plus years since First Blood was adapted for the big screen. That film presented John Rambo as a shell-shocked vet, pushed to the edge by a needlessly aggressive lawman. The first two sequels - Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III - turned Rambo into the living embodiment of American rage, sending him to fictionally settle real-life military conflicts. Then of course came 2008's ultra-violent fourth outing, simply titled Rambo.
Throughout all these incarnations, one constant has always remained: Sylvester Stallone inhabiting the lead role. Unfortunately, it now seems the upcoming Rambo TV series (should it come to fruition) will bring this tradition to an abrupt end.
When the series - entitled Rambo: New Blood - was first announced as being in development for FOX, reports claimed that Stallone was heavily involved in the project's creation, and would serve as an executive producer. Some additional stories even suggested that Sly might star in the project as Rambo. However, it would appear that somebody forgot to confirm these reports with Stallone himself.
Deadline has heard from a rep for the action legend, who says that his client won't be involved in the series "in any way at all." It's hard to get much clearer than that. All the same, Stallone added that he wishes the Rambo TV show project well, suggesting that his decision to not participate is not based on some type of acrimony between the parties involved.
While nothing is certain yet, Stallone's lack of involvement may end up dooming Rambo: New Blood right out of the gate. FOX's development deal is said to have been negotiated under the pretense that the actor would be involved in some capacity. For their own part, the studios behind the series have reportedly been trying to get Stallone signed for quite some time, and presumably figured he would eventually agree to terms. After all, Stallone is known to be very protective of the character, much as he is with with the recently revived Rocky Balboa.
It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a new Rambo will eventually be cast and the project will move forward as scheduled, but this is definitely a blow to Rambo: New Blood's chances. With Stallone officially making it known that he won't be part of a Rambo TV series, though, one wonders what this means for the long-gestating fifth Rambo film Rambo: Last Blood. The proposed project - once rumored to be about Rambo taking on Mexican drug cartels - has been on the back-burner for awhile now, although it is known that Stallone planned to both write and direct the film as well as star in it.
With the recent success of Creed, Stallone is likely to have his pick of what to make next, and resurrecting another of his storied franchises seems like a logical move. The initial announcements of Rambo: New Blood suggested that Rambo's film adventures were being put on hold for the time being, but those initial reports were wrong about Stallone's involvement, and could very well also be incorrect regarding the plans for Last Blood. Either way, Rambo seems destined to wage one last war - sooner or later.
Rambo: New Blood remains in development, while the current status of Rambo: Last Blood is unknown.