Rambo should be allowed to pass with Stallone, it was his character, and I think a lot of the meaning of Rambo has been lost behind the cheese that came later from people who probably never even saw "First Blood". I don't think you can capture the right kind of situation and angst with more recent conflicts, and 'Nam and it's realities are increasingly being lost on the younger generation.
That's just my opinion.
Repeated for truth. First Blood was a fantastic movie. It was meaningful. It wasn't just another 80's popcorn action flick, it had a message and depth. I can sum it up as "not just another action flick" with one sentence.
Only one person dies in the whole movie... and he wasn't shot.
Now the other Rambo movies... were popcorn action flicks. They existed solely for the action segments and the 80's style "shootin the commies rescue the soldiers" jingoist blah blah blah.
I can't think of 5 actors who should take over the Rambo series... I can't think of even one doing it. Rambo was 1 good movie and you can still watch THAT GOOD ONE.
I'm going to disagree there, the second movie, the one actually called "Rambo" was being critical of the government for not doing enough for the POWs left behind. It was less about a red blooded American blowing away commies, as much as it was about the government being less than assertive in it's efforts to get our people back, and when Rambo actually takes action, they wind up betraying him. Understand the ending of Rambo isn't him having some knock-down, drag-out brawl with an evil commie mastermind, it's him unloading weapons into his own government's command center. Now for the popcorn munching commie-bashing version see Chuck Norris' "Missing In Action".
I think "Rambo" winds up getting labeled the way it does because of the time it came out, and because it did involve some over the top action set pieces, that said I think as a series Rambo was a bit more thoughtful than a lot of other movies in the same vein. In Rambo movies the violence usually existed to illustrate some point, as opposed to simply being an action showcase with the plot built around the action scenes they wanted to highlight.
Sit down some time and watch "Rambo: First Blood Part II" back to back with a couple of "Missing In Action" movies. Both are pretty good, both are action movies, and both have the same message but you'll notice a definite difference in how they cover the same material, Chuck (who is actually pretty awesome) was in movies that were far more pro-American as a whole as fitting with the actor's general demeanor.
Now, please note I will agree with you when you get into the whole line of Rambo merchandising, which is something even as a kid I did not get. The whole "Rambo, the force of freedom!" schtick that fueled the cartoon show which is how I am guessing most people remember Rambo nowadays had very little to do with the movies. I mean Rambo is a dude who feels like he was betrayed by his government and the American people, gets sent to jail when some rednecks make his life miserable and try and kill him, agrees to perform a covert mission for the government and while he DOES engage the enemy they literally abandon him in the middle of a hellhole for a second time. The rest of the guy's life is spent in places like scenic Afghanistan (Rambo III is probably the closest to the action movies it's accused of being) and then later hides out in the third world as a nobody just trying to find peace. This is not a character running around draped in The American Flag, punching commies because Uncle Sam is awesome. If anything a young Rambo might have actually believed something like that going to 'nam but as we meet him he's totally disenfranchised with it.
Not one of my favorite series of movies, but one I occasionally defend. I do not think the legacy these movies left behind is deserved, and honestly I don't think millennials can really "get" this since Rambo is grounded in things that happened before their time. I mean the 80s-90s generation can to some extent (this includes me) because we were closer to it and were dealing with the fathers, uncles, etc... that went through that for real, and the whole POW-MIA thing from 'Nam was a lot closer.
If someone did a new Rambo it would be a bloody nightmare as they would do it based on the expectation, they would probably create some gritty yet self-aware pseudo-satire of 80s action movies and that would do nobody justice, except the pocket book of whomever holds the rights to the character. The character aged with Stallone, and they should probably just leave it where it is. They could reboot it with some kind of PTSD ridden special forces guy from Afghanistan or Iraq or whatever, but really if they want to tell that story they should just make a new franchise, not try and call it "Rambo". It wouldn't work though because soldiers are treated with more respect nowadays, and oddly enough you can probably thank Rambo for helping raise some of that awareness. People really did treat 'Nam veterans like crap, nobody ever told Rambo "thank you for your service" and meant it.