Sylvester Stallone superhero

After his Oscar-nominated turn as a down-and-out boxer in the original Rocky, Sylvester Stallone largely spent the next decade cultivating a muscled-up action hero image, competing with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the box office, and generally turning grounded characters like Rocky Balboa and John Rambo into practically unbeatable tough guys on the big screen. In the era before actual superhero movies took hold, Stallone was as close to a cinematic superhero as you could get.

Now, decades later, audiences are getting a full-fledged Sylvester Stallone superhero movie called Samaritan, which is currently being developed at MGM.

Variety brings word about the new film, which comes from writer Bragi F. Schut, who wrote the 2011 Nicolas Cage movie Season of the Witch and this year’s surprisingly fun horror movie Escape Room. Here’s the logline:

[Samaritan] centers on a boy learning that a missing superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier after a battle, may still be alive.

That’s admittedly not much to go on, but it sounds like there could be an opportunity here to lean into Stallone’s real cinematic past, drawing a direct line from the way he was held in such high regard in our action movie pantheon to how the citizens of this fictional world may have viewed him as a hero decades ago. Could this be Stallone’s equivalent of JCVD, in which he reckons with his on-screen identity? He seemed to be willing to do that in 2015’s Creed, but the fact that he wanted to include a fight scene between Rocky and Ivan Drago in Creed II implies that he may not be in that headspace these days.

Of course, this won’t be the first time Stallone has played a superhero on screen. He played Judge Dredd in 1994 and appeared briefly in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as a Ravager named Stakar Ogord, aka Starhawk. That movie left him poised to reprise the role in either a spin-off or Guardians Vol. 3, but the James Gunn controversy seems to have put in a pin in that for the time being. Meanwhile, Stallone was reportedly the top choice to star in a film adaptation of the Mark Millar superhero comic Starlight, which follows a retired space hero who saved the universe forty years earlier and is called back into action to save it again. There hasn’t been any motion on that film either, so it seems like Samaritan may be the best chance of seeing him take on a superhero role soon.

Stallone will star and produce through his Balboa Productions company, and no director is attached yet.

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