Rambo’s Original Ending Suits Tarantino Much More Than It Did Stallone

Rambo's Original Ending Suits Tarantino Much More Than It Did Stallone

A Quentin Tarantino adaptation of First Blood would be the perfect chance to use the book’s original ending, which Sylvester Stallone changed

Quentin Tarantino has hinted that he would be interested in directing a remake of the Sylvester Stallone classic Rambo movie First Blood, and such a project would be a great way to use the film’s original intended ending. In the David Morrell novel that First Blood was based on, Rambo dies at the end, but this is changed in the film script, which was co-written by Stallone, Michael Kozoll and William Sackheim. The change worked for Stallone’s persona, and created the Rambo franchise, but the more downbeat original ending would be perfect for a Tarantino remake.

The First Blood novel was a hit thriller that portrayed Rambo as a violent psychopath motivated by a sense of humiliation and desire for a good death. In Morrell’s version, Rambo dies during a confrontation with sheriff William Teasle. As one of the biggest ’80s action stars, Stallone had influence into how the character was portrayed in the film, and made him more sympathetic. These changes included making Rambo not directly kill police and National Guardsmen, and giving him a first name, John. The biggest change, however, was allowing Rambo to live in the end, which provided a more positive ending and led to four sequels. This shift made sense for Stallone, who was known for crowd-pleasing action movies, and gave him a second franchise alongside Rocky.


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However, the original ending would be perfect for a potential Tarantino First Blood. In an interview on The Big Picture podcast, Tarantino described how he would remake First Blood with a script more faithful to the original book, starring Adam Driver as Rambo and Kurt Russell as Teasle. This lead to speculation that such a remake could be Tarantino’s final film, as the filmmaker has long stated that he would retire after his tenth feature, with 2019’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood being his ninth. Tarantino’s films are well-known for their bloody action as well as scripts that pull no punches. He also isn’t afraid to end movies with the deaths of protagonists, as in Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight, which end with their entire casts dying in orgies of violence. Viewers would expect a Tarantino First Blood to be more violent and nihilistic than the Stallone original, and ending with Rambo’s death would certainly be a way to do that.

Quentin Tarantino in Desperado.

The original ending would also fit with Tarantino’s interest in disrupting well-known narratives. Both Inglorious Basterds and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood end with the protagonists changing well-established history by killing Hitler in a cinema and saving Sharon Tate from the Manson clan respectively. This device creates the sense of playful narrative transgression and defiance of expectations that has made Tarantino such a distinct cinematic voice. Having Rambo die at the end of his First Blood would be a similar move. While First Blood is not historically based, and Rambo’s death would actually be more faithful to the original, the Stallone version is more well-known. Rambo’s death would subvert audience expectations in the way that Tarantino loves.

Based on Tarantino’s comments, it seems unlikely that his version of First Blood will end up being made. He describes this project as what he would do if he “just wanted to make a good movie”, but suggests that he is interested in something more ambitious for his final feature. But First Blood’s original ending would be perfect for a Tarantino film, suiting him far more than Stallone.

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Robert Hutton
(164 Articles Published)

Rob Hutton is a feature writer for Screen Rant. He has a PhD in English and has previously been published by both academic and popular publications. Rob is a lifelong fan of science-fiction and fantasy. In his spare time Rob watches old television, watches weird movies, and writes an unpublishable novel.

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