New Year’s is supposed to be about new beginnings, but for Sylvester Stallone, 2015 promises to be another blast from the past. This month, he returns to the fighting city of Philadelphia to play Rocky Balboa for the seventh time. Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler is set to film Creed, with Balboa serving as the aging trainer to Apollo Creed’s grandson, an up-and-coming boxer played by Michael B. Jordan.
Assuming the mentor role once represented by Burgess Meredith’s Mickey shouldn’t be too physically taxing for the 68-year-old Stallone, but don’t think for a second he’s given up being the action hero. Later this year, he’ll play Rambo, presumably for the last time. Over the holiday, Stallone tweeted that he’d be making the gangster biopic Scarpa after Rambo: Last Blood.
It’s been seven years since Stallone last resurrected John Rambo for a third sequel, simply titled Rambo, that grossed more than $113 million worldwide. Since then, he’s been ambivalent about bringing the character back again, occasionally saying that the character was retired and other times expressing wild enthusiasm for giving him a proper send-off. At one point, Sean Hood (Conan the Barbarian) wrote a script that aimed for “the tone of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.” In 2013, there was an announcement that the next Rambo project would be a TV series—without Stallone as the hero. Though his last Expendables film did not perform well in the U.S., making only a quarter of what the original 2010 film in that franchise made, it grossed more than $206 million around the world, indicating there is still an audience for Stallone as an action hero. No doubt those same fans would pony up for John Rambo’s last hurrah.