Sylvester Stallone's Samaritan is coming to Prime Video this week, marking the first time the superstar has taken a starring role in a superhero movie. The movie is a gritty, darker take on superhero universes than fans might be used to after a decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe dominance, and it seems like that's what attracted Stallone to the role. The actor, whose characters in movies like Rocky, Rambo, and Demolition Man have long bordered on the superhuman anyway, took the opportunity of headlining Samaritan and used it to humanize and de-mythologize the concept of the superhero a bit.
In the film, Stallone plays a secretive man who makes a living by picking through the trash, repairing old machines, and selling them for a profit. The backstory is, this is a world where there were once a pair of super-powered beings -- a hero, and a villain -- and both of them vanished on the same night, years ago, after having their final battle. So when the city starts descending into chaos, with criminal gangs that admire the villain Nemesis, the mysterious "Joe" is called upon to take back the streets...even if he doesn't really want to.
"You go, 'well how do we get rid of all this violence, and fear?'" Stallone said during a press conference last week. "And then, in the movies, it's always this mythic character. But in the end and I say to the people, you have to take care of yourself, that's what it's all about. So [Samaritan is] kind of a cautionary tale, that when you get rid of like your hero, then maybe you need a hero back, because you're just not ready to take on the responsibility."
Stallone noted that the backstory presented at the start of Samaritan informs everything that happens after, noting that at the start of the movie, his character is doing his best to remain totally under-the-radar, far from wearing an armored suit and tearing up the streets in bloody superhero battles.
"In this particular case, [Samaritan] had an issue that is so personal, that he couldn't face the facts, and that's why he disappeared. He thought, okay, why don't I just assume what people considered the most anonymous job in the world, a garbage man. No one pays any attention to these people. Yet when you think about them, without them, we're in big trouble. So there's all these metaphors in there."
Samaritan debuts tomorrow on Prime Video.