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Will We Ever Get To See A Rambo 6?

Sylvester Stallone's Rambo franchise has proven to have remarkably long legs, and as associated as it's become with slam-bang action, the character's introduction was a bit different. 1982's First Blood didn't skimp on the action, but it functioned more as a psychological thriller. A bunch of small-town cops who really didn't know who they were dealing with pursued Stallone's Green Beret Vietnam vet John J. Rambo through the forests of the Pacific Northwest — for no greater a crime than simple vagrancy.

The second installment in the franchise — 1985's Rambo: First Blood Part II, which Stallone co-wrote with a young James Cameron — established Rambo's cred as a one-man army. The flick saw him dropped back into Vietnam fir what was supposed to be a recon mission to locate American prisoners of war, but Rambo was having none of that. Instead, he liberated the POWs, dispatched what must have been everybody with a gun in the entire country, and pretty much retroactively won the war.

1988's Rambo III dropped the hero into Afghanistan to rescue his friend and mentor, Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna). Though that movie earned even more money that its predecessor (via The Numbers), Stallone decided to take a break from the character of Rambo for awhile — a long while. The next franchise installment, simply titled Rambo, arrived two decades later in 2008. The ultra-violent follow-up saw Rambo accompanying a squad of mercenaries into Myanmar in an attempt to rescue a group of kidnapped missionaries. 

The film series was then apparently concluded with 2019's even-more-violent Rambo: Last Blood, in which the aging Rambo — cooling his heels as a hand on his late father's Arizona ranch — goes on a solo mission to Mexico to rescue from human traffickers the daughter of a friend.

The title of that last entry sure had an air of finality to it, but nevertheless, fans have wondered one thing: Could there ever be a Rambo 6?

If it happens, the next Rambo will probably be a prequel — and it might not be a movie

Stallone has addressed the question on social media on multiple occasions, and the answer might surprise you. In June 2020, he issued a missive on his Instagram celebrating the release of the Extended Cut of Last Blood on Apple TV+. A new poster for the release was accompanied by the caption: "SEE THE REAL JOURNEY — 'YOU JUST DON'T TURN IT OFF!!!!' MAKE IT #1 THIS WEEKEND! (He could be back) Much respect, Sly." 

Of course, fans who had been paying attention might have seen this coming. Back in September 2019, Stallone was asked during a sit-down with Screen Rant whether he thought there was any more of Rambo's story left to tell. "I always thought of Rambo when he was 16 or 17 — I hope they can do the prequel," he said. "[Rambo] was the best person you could find. He was the captain of the team; he was the most popular kid in school, [a] super athlete. He was like Jim Thorpe, and the war is what changed him. If you [could see] him before, he was like the perfect guy."

That turned out to be no throwaway remark. Over a year later, in November 2020, Stallone elaborated on the idea during an exchange with a fan on Instagram (via MovieWeb). Asked if there was any chance of Rambo returning to the screen, Sly gave a brief but very interesting response: "Only as a streaming prequel or not at all."

TV origin stories for iconic movie characters have worked out well recently

One could be forgiven for wondering whether Young Rambo could make a viable series, but then again, one doesn't have to look very far to find recent precedent suggesting that such a thing could, in fact, work pretty darned well. On paper, a series exploring the younger years of Silence of the Lambs' iconic villain Hannibal Lecter didn't exactly seem like a golden idea, but for three seasons between 2013 and 2015, NBC's Hannibal wowed audiences and critics with its exceptional writing and plotting — not to mention the performance of Mads Mikkelsen in the title role. In fact, the real reason why Hannibal got canceled may have to do with the show having too many fans who, unfortunately, chose to pirate episodes rather than tuning in live.

Also, consider Bates Motel, an origin story for Norman Bates, the infamous villain of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 proto-slasher classic Psycho. That series ran for five seasons between 2013 and 2017 on A&E, earning a dedicated fan base and near-universal acclaim thanks to its well-drawn characters, its knack for riveting suspense, and the performances of its cast — which included Freddie Highmore as Norman and Vera Farmiga as Norma, his manipulative, psychologically abusive mother. 

As with all TV series, the right creative team and cast would be key to any exploration of how John J. Rambo became the Rambo, the last guy on Earth you'd want to mess with. But if it were to happen, it's all but certain Stallone would be involved in some capacity, and that guy has pretty solid creative instincts. We're thinking that, once again, he's on the right track with respect to the future of Rambo, and we're rooting for him to make his prequel series dream a reality.