Soldier Boy supports the Mujahideen? To say The Boys’ all-American superhero didn’t quite age well would be a bit of an understatement, but this really takes the cake.
Season 3, episode 6 of The Boys, Herogasm, is full of references, but few are as sneaky as this hint at the rumoured original end credits of Rambo III. According to an urban legend, film was originally dedicated to Afghan Mujahideen fighters.
Is this actually true? What does “Mujahideen” mean? And how does this tie in with Soldier Boy? Let’s explore.
Where we left off last week
But first, a little recap.
Last week’s episode left The Boys at an impasse. Soldier Boy’s arrival and Hughie’s blatant misuse of Temporary V threatened to drive a wedge between the series’ golden couple (#StarHugh?), Butcher seemed to have permanently lost MM’s trust by roofie-ing him, and Crimson Countess was put out of her misery by her ex’s unannounced visit.
We also have some new things to worry about, like what happened to Maeve (is she still alive even?), CEO Ashley going power-mad, A Train’s brother (will they ever mend their relationship?) and Soldier Boy’s insane power.
After somehow making his way from Russia to New York, where he immediately caused utter chaos, a number of characters had to reckon with the disturbing reality that Soldier Boy was still alive. And he wanted revenge for being sold to the Russians.
We also learned that during his decades of Soviet imprisonment, Soldier Boy was ruthlessly tortured and experimented on, which gave him some truly bizarre superpowers and possibly the world’s worst case of PTSD.
- THE BOYS SPOILERS: This may be The Boys’ darkest clue yet
At the end of the episode, after incinerating Crimson Countess and everything else within a 15-foot radius, Soldier Boy trudged off into the woods, presumably to strike a deal with Butcher and Hughie about killing Homelander.
Soldier Boy and the…Mujahideen?
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
In this week’s episode we learn a little more about Soldier Boy’s backstory. Just like Vought’s other supe subjects, he was also pimped out by the company in a variety of movies glorifying superheroes. In one flashback, we see Soldier Boy in what looks like a parody of Rambo III.
To refresh your memory, Rambo III came out in 1988, at the height of the Cold War. In the film, John Rambo, played with great pathos by Sylvester Stallone, teams up with the Afghan rebel mujahideen to fight the Soviets and then drives off into the sunset as the credits roll.
In The Boys, Soldier Boy fights the good fight in a dusty landscape vaguely resembling the Afghan desert, with his turbaned horse-riding “brothers”, as he calls them. So far, so Rambo.
As the flashback cuts to end credits, we see a bizarre message: “This film is dedicated to the brave mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan.”
What does ‘Mujahideen’ mean?
Twitter users seized on this juicy Easter Egg, an obvious reference to Rambo III’s rumoured end credits. However, others still seemed confused: who are the “Mujahideen” and what does the word mean? Why is Soldier Boy’s old movie dedicated to them? And what does this all have to do with Rambo?
“Mujahideen” is the plural of “mujahid”, which is an Arab word that translates literally to “strugglers or strivers for justice” and refers broadly to people who engage in jihad. Despite its negative connotations in the West, “jihad” was initially interpreted as “the fight on behalf of God, religion or the community” and was not connected to literal violence.
In English, “Mujahideen” started being used widely to refer to Afghan rebel fighters in the Soviet-Afghan war that raged between 1979 and 1989. At the time, the US and Afghanistan were allies in this war, which served as the inspiration for Rambo III.
As for why the old movie in The Boys is dedicated to Soldier Boy’s “Mujahideen brothers” – that’s a cheeky hint at a forgotten bit of Hollywood lore.
Was Rambo III really dedicated to the Afghan Mujahideen?
A number of claims have been floating around the internet about the actual end screen dedication of Rambo III, but all it seems to amount to is an urban legend.
If you watched the movie today, you’d be hard pressed to find any traces of that end screen dedication. As Rambo and Trautman drive off into the sunset waving goodbye to their new Afghan friends, the screen cuts to this text: “This film is dedicated to the gallant people of Afghanistan.”
However, many fans claim the original end credits were the same as in Soldier Boy’s film, dedicated to the “brave Mujahideen”. Some theories say the dedication was changed after 9/11, when the US no longer wanted to be seen as Afghanistan’s ally on the international stage.
Other theories claim Rambo III was marketed with different end credit messages depending on the audience it was meant for.
In 2019, a YouTuber decided to bust this myth once and for all by buying a number of different VHS copies of Rambo III, some originals from 1988 when the movie came out, and comparing their end credits. The results were rather disappointing.
All the tapes bore the same dedication, to “the gallant people of Afghanistan”. It’s possible, after all, that the dedication “to the brave Mujahideen” only appears in Soldier Boy’s (and The Boys’) universe, as a subtle hint at a forgotten rabbit hole of film history.