Sean Hood promoted an answer.
The main elements left out were the aforementioned death of John Rambo in the first film, which would also mirror the original novel that the character and first film were based on, First Blood
Another element that was changed from the novel to film was Rambo’s overall emotional response to the horrors he witnessed in Vietnam. In the novel, he was angry, confused, and emotionally tormented. He somewhat caused the small war, rather than being the reluctant warrior that we see in First Blood
who is overall pushed to the limits after they drew first blood. In the novel, Rambo comes back to the town three times before he is arrested, as opposed to the one time when the sheriff takes him into custody. That’s a key difference as far as ideas that were left out of the Rambo saga.
Teasle also manages to shoot Rambo in the chest in their final battle. That was the novel version. In the film, Rambo doesn’t get shot.
The novel was published in 1972, during some of the darkest times of the war and society’s viewpoint of it.
The film debuted in 1982, where we had already seen some films deal with Vietnam vets. Roger Ebert even said in his review that we had seen this type of story told before.
In the end of the novel, Colonel Trautman, Rambo’s commanding officer, finds the vet in a park, wounded in the chest by Teasle’s shot. He doesn’t try to talk him out of the situation or save him, he kills Rambo point blank with a shotgun to the head.
“What’s it like for you?” Teasle asks him. ( Thise is Teasle’s last moments because he is mortally wounded by Rambo and lies dying and eventually does just that).
“Better than when I knew he was in pain,” Trautman replies.
It’s rumored that Kirk Douglas, who at one time was attached to play Trautman, walked away because the film changed the ending. He wanted to kill Rambo in the end.
The filmmakers played with the idea of Rambo committing suicide. The scene was actually shot. But in the end, they choose to keep him alive. Onto the sequels…
James Cameron wrote the first sequel, which would become Rambo: First Blood Part II
. In his original opening, we find Trautman visiting Rambo in a psychiatric hospital instead of a prison, which was a concept that Cameron himself eventually used in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
In First Blood
, Trautman’s designation on his Green Beret was Army’s 5th Special Forces Group. In the sequel, it shows that he’s in 1st Special Operations Command. So between the events of the first and second film, he was reassigned to Spec Ops (Special Forces).
At one time, the producers wanted to pair Rambo up with a young counterpart, specifically John Travolta, who at one time was considered to take on the role of John Rambo in First Blood
and whom Sylvester Stallone directed in Staying Alive
. Stallone later nixed the idea, thinking that the sequel should feature Rambo alone on a mission.
Not much else is known, regarding the withdrawn concepts for Rambo III
For the fourth film, Rambo
, Colonel Trautman was written into the script. Richard Crenna had died in 2003, but James Brolin was attached to take over the role until the character was written out of the script.
There were many scripts for a fourth Rambo before the eventual one went into production.
One told the story of Rambo living the quiet life with a wife and child until white supremacists kidnap his family.
Another script had Rambo trying to stop a hostage situation at the United Nations, where he was working as a diplomat (??), when terrorists take hold of the UN headquarters in New York City.
As Mark Hughes
mentioned, Quora’s own Sean Hood
was hired to write a fifth Rambo film. Stallone moved onto other projects. Later on, I had told Sean about my pitch for my own Rambo sequel. He was nice enough to introduce me to the rights holders (Millennium). I pitched my story to them and eventually was lucky enough to get the script into their hands. Sadly, Stallone, once again, had moved onto other projects, including The Expendables
sequel, Bullet to the Head
, and Escape Plan
I can’t (and wouldn’t) divulge Sean’s script details, which were developed with Stallone himself (and it was a great script), but I will comment on mine.
Like many Rambo V concepts, my pitch was Unforgiven
meets the action genre, in this case Rambo.
My script was peppered with Rambo mythos and variations of, but I really wanted to take this character to a new and final level. He finally gets to truly makes a difference for his country. It was everything you loved about Rambo films (reluctant warrior) mixed in with a Tom Clancy type plot, all set within the jungles of Mexico. It also introduced Gunnar, a new reluctant warrior. Same type of warrior, different war (Iraq and Afghanistan). Think Tom Hardy. And yes, it introduces that character for a possible reboot of the First Blood franchise.
Below you’ll find my opening pages for the script. I include them only for fun, just to offer a feel for it as far as tone, atmosphere, etc. If the powers that be ever have eyes on it again, I’ll have to take it down. But it’s just one example of where the Rambo saga could have gone (or will one lucky day).See question on Quora