The Sweatband is what contributes to John Rambo's signature look.
Rambo ties it around his forehead to either keep his hair or sweat out of his eyes, intimidate the enemy or keep him warm. Rambo did it in Rambo: First Blood Part II as both a tactical advantage and a memorial to Co Bao, as he ripped off part of her dress to make it.
Since the release of the second Rambo film, the sweatband has become so famous that it has been featured on the covers of the first four Rambo movies, and the famous shot of Rambo tying the sweatband from behind is the entire focus of the Rambo III box art. It has also been parodied numerous times and the opposing army in El Salvador started wearing sweatbands Rambo-style after the release of the second movie.
Stallone intends to release his own line of designer Rambo-style sweatbands as well.
On the contrary to popular belief, the first time Rambo uses the band is not for sweat (as Special Forces used to do during the Vietnam war), but he uses it as self-aid after being hit at the head by a bullet coming from the police (he also has blood coming down the band).
But when a movie is successful, the industry starts to copy some of it's features, which is the reason we see similar features in many Rambo movies (Rambo doing gruesome self-aid, the bad-guy on a helicopter, Rambo firing a machine-gun in the end).
Although the sweatband did appear in First Blood, it didn't become the character's trademark until Rambo: First Blood Part II, when director George P. Cosmatos made a risky decision to show the character for the first time, with his back turned to the camera while tying his headband with rainfall in the background. This shot proved to be so dramatic that filmmakers today study and copy it. This was continued in Rambo III, where Rambo was shown again tying the band with his back turned to the camera. Interestingly enough, although by now it had become a staple of the character, Stallone did not include this in the film, Rambo IV. To keep in canon with the character, however, Rambo was shown wearing a sweatband.
The character tying his sweatband has become notoriously parodied, and has been parodied by such comedic celebrities such as "Weird" Al Yankovic and Charlie Sheen to name just a few.
- First Blood (piece of cloth)
- Rambo: First Blood Part II (piece of Co Bao's dress)
- Rambo III (real sweatband)
- Rambo IV (real sweatband)