John Rambo’s war is far from over, as seen in the reveal for his fifth movie Rambo: Last Blood. After years of fighting and struggling to overcome his inner demons, Rambo finds himself once again in a conflict that only he can reluctantly yet effectively end. Fans of Sylvester Stallone’s iconic role have been left wondering about the fifth installment’s connections to the series. After all, Last Blood seems to have more in common with Logan than the previous Rambo movies.
While viewers will have to wait until Last Blood hits cinemas to confirm or debunk their theories, we can still speculate on who may or may not return in Rambo’s latest war. Here are five characters from the Rambo movies we want to see in Last Blood along with five more we’d rather forget.
10 DON’T WANT: The Mujahideen
In Rambo III, Rambo forges an unbreakable bond with the Mujahideen: Afghan guerillas trying to repel the invading Soviet forces. The problem here is that the real Mujahideen later evolved into the Taliban — the terrorist group responsible for many inhuman atrocities in Afghanistan.
While the movie’s awkward politics can be brushed off as a sign of the year (1985) that it was released in, the mere mention of an undeniably American action hero fighting alongside would-be terrorists is enough to cause a stir. There’s a reason why the filmmakers wisely choose to ignore this installment.
9 WANT: The Viet Cong
The Viet Cong are responsible for breaking Rambo during the Vietnam War, making the revenge-fueled First Blood Part 2 somewhat plausible despite it clashing with the first movie’s entire point. But as early his second movie, Rambo forgets about the Vietnamese as he shifts his anger towards the Russians.
If Last Blood really is going full-circle as its title implies, then there’s no better time for the Viet Cong to return. This doesn’t mean Rambo has to fight senior-aged Vietnamese guerillas, but rather they can haunt him through flashbacks that hearken back to First Blood’s depiction of trauma.
8 DON’T WANT: The Soviet Union
Despite being a prisoner of the Viet Cong, the Russians could be considered to be Rambo’s true arch-enemies due to the frequency of their appearances. In fact, Rambo spends more time killing Russians in Vietnam in his first sequel.
Due to the fact that the Cold War is over, adding Soviet forces to Last Blood would only date the movie by decades. There’s nothing wrong if Rambo fights aging ex-Soviet soldiers since they would fit the story thematically, but the sneering communist villains of the past have no place in today’s action landscape.
7 WANT: Sherriff Teasle
Of the many people Rambo faced, only Sherriff Teasle and his fellow officers actually felt human. The fact that the petty and corrupt Sherriff has shades of complexity helped matters, with his implied past as a Korean War veteran adding a layer of tension to his interactions with the Vietnam veteran.
Teasle is also the only major antagonist to survive a fight against Rambo, and revealing what happened to him after First Blood would be a nice callback to the movie that started it all.
6 DON’T WANT: Post-Junta Burma
During his fourth war, Rambo fought the oppressive junta/military government to help the Burmese rebels’ cause. Like Rambo III and the Mujahideen, Rambo IV may have had honest intentions but Rambo’s temporary allies did not age well.
In 2011, the real-life Burmese junta that Rambo declared war on was dissolved and gave the rebels the change in power that they wanted. The new government, however, committed atrocities similar or even worse than what the junta did, this time targeting Rohingya Muslims and refugees. The less modern Rambo has to do with the controversial government, the better.
5 WANT: Sarah
Of the missionaries that Rambo protected in Rambo IV, only Sarah had a genuine understanding of Burma’s grim situation. She was also the only one to show the stoic boatman respect and compassion, trying to understand who he really is.
Not only is she a relatable character, but Sarah is one of the few supporting characters to survive a Rambo movie. Showing what happened to her after the disastrous relief mission in Burma would be a nice way for the series to examine post-war trauma, but this time from the perspective of a civilian who genuinely wanted to help.
4 DON’T WANT: Col. Samuel “Sam” Trautman
Rambo’s commanding officer and long-time friend Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna) is an integral part of the Rambo franchise, and some consider him to be the heart of the story. Which is why, when Crenna passed, so did the man who made Rambo the elite soldier he is today.
Stallone decided that Trautman died the day Crenna did, choosing to use stock footage of the colonel in Rambo IV instead of recasting him with James Brolin. As much as fans may miss the colonel and Creena himself, this respectful decision should be upheld.
3 WANT: The Rambo Family
After what may have been a lifetime, Rambo finally returns home during the fourth movie’s end. Though his family is never shown, Rambo’s implied reunion with them served as a bittersweet cap to the unforgiving events of the fourth movie.
Rambo, however, finds himself in Mexico during the events of Last Blood, currently with no explanation as to why he left America. If the fifth Rambo is meant to be the last, showing a glimpse of his home life and loved ones would be a nice way to remind audiences that there’s more to Rambo than war.
2 DON’T WANT: Rambo, The ‘80s Action Hero
Rambo may have begun his cinematic legacy as a traumatized yet sympathetic war veteran, but after a single movie, he transformed into the poster-boy of American masculinity that wasn’t afraid to repeatedly shoot communism in the face with a machine gun.
Stallone seems to have realized this error, as seen in how Rambo IV course corrected the franchise back to its grim and gritty roots. The testosterone-fueled Rambo that pop culture showers with ironic love should remain in the past where he belongs, while allowing the original Rambo to shine.
1 WANT: Rambo, the Old Warrior
In his first movie, Rambo was a tired and weary soldier trying to find a way home. Stallone’s performance (especially his breakdown) is said to have brought many veterans to tears, helping them become emotionally open with others and themselves.
This troubled and very human Rambo is the one who caught audience’s attentions, and bringing him back would give the franchise the respect it deserves. Based on the direction that Rambo IV took and the tone Last Blood is shooting for, the series seems to be back on track. Now, all it has to do is stay the course.