Recently, I’d been thinking of my former supervisor when I taught middle and high school who was one of the nicest and most supportive people I’d ever met. She would sign every email or message with “Thank you for everything you do.” Her exact opposite, somewhere in the multiverse, is a sociopathic investment banker who signs all of his messages with “Thank you for nothing,” followed by insults and profane statements. As I contemplated other differences within the multiverse, as well as causality and the lattice of coincidence, I thought of the original screenplay for Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 before it had been extensively rewritten. The final script is credited to Kevin Jarre, James Cameron, and Sylvester Stallone.
(Spoiler alert) In the novel First Blood, Rambo is killed by Sheriff Teasle. Similarly, in the original ending of the film First Blood, Rambo was supposed to die. The producers of the film First Blood had been able to cast Kirk Douglas as Colonel Trautman and had presold the foreign rights to the film based on Douglas’s participation. When Stallone was cast as Rambo, Stallone argued for a new ending in which Rambo lived so there could be sequels. Kirk Douglas quit the film when producers changed the ending to have Rambo survive. Once Douglas quit, the producers were worried the film would collapse. (At the time, Kirk Douglas was a big name; Stallone had made a few films by then including the first two Rocky movies as well as Paradise Alley, but he wasn’t yet a bankable action hero). Later, when talks began about writing a sequel to First Blood, David Giler, a writer/producer, who had done uncredited rewrites on First Blood, recommended James Cameron write the screenplay for First Blood: Part 2. Cameron’s draft had Rambo teamed up with a “techy” sidekick who producers thought might be portrayed by John Travolta since Travolta had previously worked with Stallone on Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever.
However, Stallone had had problems with Cameron’s script including the lack of political motives and “not much action” in the first third of the script. While Cameron eventually received a writing credit, who knows how much of his draft remained in the final product. Kevin Jarre would also get a story by credit, which probably means he’d written a screenplay for a separate film in which elements had been incorporated into First Blood: Part 2.
Initially, in First Blood: Part 2, the character of Murdock was offered to Lee Marvin, who had also been considered for the role of Colonel Troutman in the original First Blood. Marvin would pass on the role, and Murdock would be portrayed by Charles Napier. Lee Marvin had also passed on the role of Quint in the film Jaws. Lee Marvin had been a sport fisherman and had scruples about Quint’s demise in the film. Marvin had reportedly said, “The shark don’t kill me; I kill the f—king shark.” Whether he actually said this or not remains to be seen, but I like to imagine he did. Since he had been a Marine, Lee Marvin is buried in Arlington National Cemetary next to former Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, who himself had been in the Army.
After First Blood: Part 2 many of the major players would work with each other on seminal projects. This is where causality, the collective unconscious, and the lattice of coincidence comes into play.
Before the filming of First Bood: Part 2, Stallone had been considered for Beverly Hills Cop. When he left that project, he used some of his ideas to make the film Cobra which would be directed by George P. Costmotos; the same director who had directed First Blood: Part 2. James Cameron would develop the story and direct another sequel for the Alien franchise, Aliens, which was produced by David Giler. Kevin Jarre would write the screenplay and begin directing the film Tombstone which co-starred Val Kilmer.
Val Kilmer’s elbow is deformed as a result of Olecranon bursitis after he’d broken his arm during the filming of The Doors. Jarre would be replaced as the director of Tombstone by George P. Cosmotos. I knew all of this information off the top of my head; of course, it’s only truly impressive if I perform the recitation of it in front of you like a magician performing sleight of hand.
Somewhere, in another dimension of the multiverse, my sociopathic supervisor is excoriating me for mishandling The Fisher Account. Later that night, I’ll go home and watch a DVD I own of First Blood: Part 2, a cerebral film, in which John Rambo, now joined by a techy sidekick, takes photos of a deserted POW camp in North Vietnam.
Andrew Davie has worked in theater, finance, and education. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant and has survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He has published short stories at various places, a chapbook with The Daily Drunk, crime fiction novellas with All Due Respect and Close to the Bone, and an upcoming memoir. His other work can be found in links on his website https://andrew-davie.com/