In a somewhat ironic bid to stay relevant, the Call of Duty franchise has just launched a Nostalgia Month. From May 20th on, online players of Warzone and Black Ops Cold War will be able to shell out for the '80s Action Heroes pack that will put them in the shoes/bloody bare feet of movie legends John Rambo and John McClane. So don your reddest bandana and take Nakatomi Plaza by storm while reliving the golden age of action flicks when, as the half-assed retro trailer growls, "some heroes die hard, others draw first blood."

… part II. That tagline ought to read: "some heroes die hard, others draw first blood part II." Even though Activision, realizing most of its players have dropped more racial slurs than they've dropped testicles, is marketing the event as a "formal introduction to one of the action movie genre's icons," they're specifically introducing their kill-streak obsessed gamers to the Rambo of the sequel -- the one who has managed to unlock the God mode cheat code ...

And not the Rambo from the first First Blood, the one who's crying about watching his best friend get his legs blown off in 'Nam by a suicide bombing shoeshine kid …

And leave it to the game developers behind "Press F to pay respects" to pick two of the most nuanced, complicated action heroes in the history of film to spray-and-pray their way through their shiny loot-box infested playgrounds. Imagine the surprise of some CoD tween torrenting Rambo to find out that, instead of this barrel-chested badass mowing down bogeys, they've actually gotten into the skin of a PTSD-suffering, homeless, anti-war cautionary tale who in the first movie only kills a single enemy -- by accident.

Activision

Not that they would have recognized them from these skins.

The same ineptness applies to the Die Hard pack -- and not just because they should've saved it for a Christmas event. The entire point of John McClane is that he's just some regular guy trying to survive a terrifying situation. He's the exact antithesis of a Call of Duty badass. The only way a CoD player would actually get into the skin of John McClane is if they spent an entire game crawling through vent ducts and camping on empty floors hoping the professional Twitch gamers don't find them.

20th Century Fox

“Come out to Verdansk, we'll get together, have a few laughs.”

This is the perfect example of the difference between a cheap reference and an actual homage. Activision spent millions getting every detail of these great characters right except for what made them interesting characters in the first place. They made sure that McClane is barefoot, then let you sprint around the map full of debris and broken glass. They gave Rambo a special kill move that starts with him sneaking up and getting his survival knife to an enemy's throat but doesn't end with him begging the guy to back off and leave him in peace. The company even paid to lift the actual movie dialog to use as soundbites, but made sure to limit the zingers to: "To survive a war, you gotta become war," and: "Welcome to the party pal," and not punctuate a cool kill with: "Jesus Christ Ellis these people are gonna kill you, tell them you don't know me! "Or: "The guy's fuckin' insides keep coming out! And nobody would help! Nobody would help!"

Activision

“It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win! But somebody wouldn't let us win!”

But that's not the reason why their whole "if you haven't heard of him by now, then here is your introduction" schtick is a bald-faced lie. It's because Activision fully expects their young hardcore CoD players to be familiar with Rambo and John McClane. Just not from the early movies but from the YouTube algorithm recommending them shitty 480p action clips with embedded Korean subtitles of Rambo 5 ...

And Die Hard 5 ...

Because Call of Duty may not have anything in common with the layered action heroes and meaningful action films from the '80s, but it has endless marketing synergy with two franchises that have spent the last 15 years producing nothing but outdated, lazy cash-ins that try to mask their lack of originality with a big budget and a constant barrage of mediocre action setpieces.

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Top Image: 20th Century Studios / Orion Pictures

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