Stallone is no stranger to action roles. The Italian Stallion has essayed some of the most iconic action hero flicks in movie history, including Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. Although Sly Stallone has slowed down from his prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, he has proven he can still draw moviegoers in through projects such as The Expendables.
But one genre that the seasoned action hero has surprisingly avoided is superheroes. With Samaritan, Stallone may have found a new field that he can add his signature stamp on. Check out the details below for more.
In Samaritan, Sylvester Stallone takes on the character of Joe Smith. He lives in Granite City, a metropolis that is on a downward spiral of crime and decay. Smith is an old and unassuming garbageman that collects oddities from his work. But Smith is not all that he seems.
That soon changes when he is forced to save a young boy named Sam played by Javon "Wanna" Walton (Umbrella Academy). Sam is accosted by street thugs, but Smith casually disposes of them, revealing his super-strength. The boy quickly realizes Smith is the superhero Samaritan, who supposedly dies 25 years prior. Smith denies this and attempts to dismiss Sam, but is accidentally hit by a speeding car.
Although Smith is severely injured, he quickly recovers, regenerating his wounds and restoring his bones to their proper place. We then see Sam and Smith becoming friends, as the old and world weary hero answers the enthusiastic boy’s questions about his powers that are apparently not as effective as they used to be. But when asked about the reason for his retirement, the former Samaritan becomes melancholic and vague, hinting at a tragic loss that led to his decision.
The rest of the trailer is a series of action set pieces, setting up the antagonists and situations that will convince Joe Smith that his superhero days might not be over just yet.
Fits like a glove
Stallone has played the role of an old warhorse going back for one more battle. In Rocky Balboa (2006), his ex-champion boxer returns to the ring and, later on, becomes mentor to his friend’s son in the Creed series of films. Also, he returned as John Rambo who finally went home in the 2008 film, but exacted vengeance on a Mexican cartel in Rambo: Last Blood (2019).
But as Samaritan, Stallone is going into new territory. The superhero genre has dominated the entertainment industry since the late 2000s. Thanks to the successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its rival the DC Extended Universe, the popularity of the superhero genre is at an all-time high.
Although Stallone has played supporting roles in both the MCU and DCEU (as Guardians of the Galaxy’s Stakar Ogord and voicing The Suicide Squad’s King Shark), this is the first superhero film that Stallone headlines in since Judge Dredd (1995). It is also interesting to note that Stallone was once considered for the role of Superman in the 1978 movie, before Christopher Reeve ultimately landed the part. Samaritan does have similarities to DC's Man of Tomorrow, including the S-symbol on his chest.
However, Samaritan seems to be closer to the Golden Age version of the Man of Steel in terms of power and scope. Although super-strong and with regenerative abilities, he can be injured with sufficient force. He also wears a full body suit complete with mask and headgear. Plus, he wields a large hammer as a weapon, reminiscent of Thor and another superhero character related to Superman: John Henry Irons aka Steel. Steel was previously played by Shaquille O’Neal in a 1997 critical and box office failure.
It should be noted that Stallone’s Samaritan is not the one from the popular independent comic book Astro City. Kurt Busiek’s Astro City has a high-flying superhero named Samaritan that is a more direct homage to Superman, though with a time travel backstory instead of being an alien from another world.
The film was actually scheduled for a November 20, 2020 release. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic led to it being delayed. Production did not start until February 2020, but was put on hold until resuming in October of that year. As a result, the release was also moved to December 11, 2020 and June 4, 2021, before finally settling on a 2022 release. The delays also led to the decision to change it from a theatrical release to a Prime Video exclusive.
Directed by Julius Avery, Samaritan stars Sylvester Stallone, Javon Walton, Martin Starr, Moisés Arias, Natacha Karam, Pilou Asbæk, Jared Odrick, Michael Aaron Milligan, and Deacon Randle.
Produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Stallone's Balboa Productions, Samaritan will be released on Amazon Prime Video via streaming on August 26, 2022.