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John Rambo looks like a cowboy now in Rambo 5 first look

He's been a musclebound military man with biceps with size of Christmas hams. He's served time in the Vietnam War, trained with United States Army Special Forces, and seen things most could never imagine. He was a prisoner of war, and even a snake-seller in Thailand for a while. But now, John Rambo is a cowboy, baby

To celebrate the start of filming on Rambo 5, the upcoming Adrien Grunberg-directed installment in the action-packed Rambo franchise, series star Sylvester Stallone shared two images of himself in character as Rambo. 

One might have expected to see the iconic action hero standing shirtless in a jungle, wielding a massive weapon, sweating profusely, and scowling at the camera in Rambo 5 – because, you know, he's Rambo and that's who Rambo is. Or at least that's who he was. Rather than roaring like mad while firing a machine gun, Stallone's title character will slide into the saddle, sporting a cowboy hat, boots, and matching chaps in the movie – as evidenced by the photos Stallone recently shared. 

In the first snap, Stallone's Rambo looks at someone (or something) off camera as he slips on a suede work glove. "Tonight we start filming...!" Stallone typed in the caption of the photo, which appears to have been taken during a costume and makeup test shoot, as the actor is standing in front of a muslin backdrop. 

The second image, however, was definitely taken on set. Stallone is seen mounted on a dun-colored horse, his head titled down toward the forest floor. He wears a high-neck shirt and a black coat — although the latter piece of outerwear might not be a part of Rambo's costume in the upcoming movie and could simply be something to keep Stallone warm while filming at night in Bulgaria, where it can dip down to 47 degrees Fahrenheit and lower throughout October.

Stallone captioned that snap, "Comes a Horseman Wild and Free," a reference to Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot's 1972 track "Don Quixote."

Confusing as the first-look photos may be, there's actually a solid reason why Rambo will look less like Dutch Schaefer and more like John Wayne in the new Rambo. The film will begin with Rambo living on his father's ranch in Arizona — the same one he returned to at the end of Rambo 4, after he and a band of Karen rebels took down Major Pa Tee Tint's (Maung Maung Khin) vicious army and after Rambo disemboweled the merciless SPDC officer. 

Rambo will go about his everyday duties — taking care of the horses, tending to the land, typical life-on-the-farm stuff — until he learns that something terrible has happened while he's been caught up in his new pastoral normal. Members of one of Mexico's deadliest, most ruthless cartels have kidnapped the daughter of one of Rambo's friends, and Rambo is the only one with the guts, gusto, and grit to hunt them down and bring his pal's missing daughter home safe. 

As he crosses the U.S. border into Mexico to carry out his mission, Rambo must also fight against his own inner demons, particularly his post-traumatic stress disorder. If luck is on his side, the war-weary hero can succeed in saving the young girl without succumbing to his inner darkness. 

While some have found cowboy-hat-wearing Rambo a bit strange, fans should thank their lucky stars that they're even seeing snaps of Stallone filming Rambo 5 in the first place, since the actor was just a few years ago prepared to say goodbye to Rambo for good. 

In May 2010, Stallone told Empire that he was "done" with Rambo and that he was "99 percent sure" a fifth Rambo movie wasn't going to happen.

"I think Rambo's pretty well done. I don't think there'll be any more," Stallone shared. "I was going to do [Rambo 5] ... I said I'd never talk about this, but I feel that with Rocky Balboa, that character came complete circle. He went home. But for Rambo to go on another adventure might be, I think, misinterpreted as a mercenary gesture and not necessary. I don't want that to happen."

At the time, he added that he was "very happy" with Rambo 4 and where his character's story ended, due in large part to the fact that Stallone "didn't pull any punches" while writing the film's script or in directing the movie. "I wanted it to be what civil war really is: rough. You can't candy coat it," said Stallone. "And where do you go from there?"

Stallone apparently had a change of heart shortly thereafter. 

In July 2010, opened up during a fan Q&A session held on Ain't It Cool about what the future held for the Rambo franchise. Asked whether he would want to further explore Rambo's backstory, Stallone admitted that he thought the possibility of a Rambo prequel was "worth pondering," and that it would be interesting for him to direct a new actor as a younger Rambo.

"It's intriguing to find the whys and wherefores of how people have become what they are," Stallone stated. "The traumas, the loss and the tragedy of being in Vietnam would certainly be a great challenge for a young actor, and it would be ironic that Rambo directs younger Rambo having played it for 20 years plus."

Obviously, all that thought turned into action, and Stallone eventually agreed to starring in a fifth Rambo movie. Though he's traded in his signature bandana and mullet for some new headgear, Rambo is coming back in full force — with a fresh aesthetic to boot — for Rambo 5, due out sometime in fall 2019. Yippie-ki-yay.