SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Julius Avery’s Samaritan. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!
After first entering development in 2019 and facing multiple release date delays, Samaritan – the new superhero feature starring Sylvester Stallone – has arrived (and it has earned some mixed reviews). While originally intended for theatrical release, the film is now an Amazon Prime exclusive, and it features the Rocky star as a metahuman living a reclusive life before attracting the attention of a young neighbor who becomes convinced that he is the former superhero known as Samaritan. The third act of the movie sports a big reveal that flips the story in a major way, making it a perfect candidate for CinemaBlend’s latest ending explained feature.
What happens during the Samaritan ending and how does it impact the way in which audiences look at the film as a whole? We dive into both those questions in this piece, and we’ll start by addressing the first one:
What Happens At The End Of Samaritan
The climax of Samaritan begins with the big twist that the entire movie leads up to: while Sam Cleary (Javon 'Wanna' Walton) has been under the impression that Joe Smith (Sylvester Stallone) is the titular hero in hiding, the reality is that he is actually Samaritan’s evil brother, Nemesis. Joe reveals this to both the kid and Nemesis fanboy Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk) after the latter abducts the former and the recluse supervillain goes to Cyrus’ warehouse on a rescue mission.
Almost immediately after Joe exposes his identity, the explosives he rigged up in the back of his crashed garbage truck blow up, and the warehouse becomes engulfed in fire. In the chaos, a rocked Cyrus grabs Sam and he tries to get away while henchman attempt to attack and kill Joe. Of course, none of these people stand a chance against a metahuman, and after an extended action sequence the retired villain catches up to them.
Joe and Cyrus battle it out, the film’s principal antagonist swinging the magical sledgehammer that Nemesis created specifically to destroy Samaritan, but even after years in hiding Joe manages to get the upper hand, and Cyrus is presumably killed as he falls down a fiery hole (mirroring the death of the eponymous hero decades earlier). Following the fight, Joe is not in great shape, as the use of his powers have once again seen his body start to overheat – meaning that his heart is on the verge of exploding. Thinking fast, Sam escapes from constraints and breaks a pipe that douses the rehabilitated hero in water. For a moment it looks as though the action may have come too late, but then Joe opens his eyes.
After a heart to heart with Sam, Joe ends up ghosting him, leaving the teen to get out of the burning warehouse himself. When Sam gets outside, he is reunited with his mother (Dascha Polanco), and he is approached by reporters who are asking about what happened. He tells them that Samaritan is alive and that he saved his life, which gets the crowds of people outside riled up and chanting. Sam sees Joe in this crowd, and after giving the kid a nod, Joe turns and walks away.
What Is The Truth Behind Nemesis’ Final Confrontation With Samaritan?
One of the keystones in the plot of Samaritan is the final confrontation between Samaritan and Nemesis – which takes place decades prior to the start of the main narrative in the film, and is first teased in the voice-over-driven prologue. It’s established that the public doesn’t know all of the details about exactly what happened during that fateful night, both in terms of what Nemesis was planning, and what actually happened, but all of that comes to light before the end of the movie.
As far as the former goes, it’s suggested that there is a certain level of confusion regarding why it was that Nemesis set fire to the Granite City power plant. Cyrus in particular thinks that the terrorist act was part of a larger play – one intended to ultimately create chaos in the metropolis. Nemesis personally dissuades this notion before the end of the movie, however. In the battle between Cyrus and Joe, Joe reveals that he was merely trying to set a trap for his heroic twin brother… a trap that worked.
In the aftermath of the fight between Samaritan and Nemesis, nobody in the city knew what happened to either brother, but the film reveals what occurred in flashbacks. Nemesis got the upper hand on Samaritan, leaving the hero clinging to a ledge over a fire-filled chasm, but at the last second he had a change of heart. He tried to save his brother by pulling him up, but the effort failed and Samaritan fell to a burning death. Instantly realizing the terrible thing he had done, Nemesis made the decision to become Joe Smith and live a life of isolation.
What’s Next For Granite City?
There are a lot of details that are breezed over in Samaritan (as I note in my CinemaBlend review of the movie), but one of the most significant is the fact that Cyrus and his gang are pretty damn successful in their mission to try and create anarchy in Granite City. They don’t quite manage to inspire absolute chaos, and everyone is killed or at least presumed dead by the time the end credits start to roll, but one thing they do manage to do is destroy the region’s power grid, and that’s not exactly insignificant.
Cyrus attacks the Granite City power plant because he thinks that its destruction was Nemesis’ real goal prior to his showdown with Samaritan – and while this was a misapprehension, that doesn’t make his success destroying the utility any less significant. It’s revealed in the second act of Samaritan that Cyrus and his gang are in possession of special EMP explosives, and they use these devices to execute their number one goal at the start of the film’s third act, plunging the city into darkness.
Because Joe’s one and only goal is to save Sam from Cyrus’ clutches, the film doesn’t really address the consequences of this catastrophic blackout or what it does to Granite City. It’s also worth noting that Joe doesn’t exactly commit himself to start being a superhero before the end of the movie as a way of further redeeming himself, so there may be some very dark days ahead for the city.
Also starring Martin Starr, Sophia Tatum, Jared Odrick, Moises Arias, and Abraham Clinkscales in addition to Sylvester Stallone, Javon 'Wanna' Walton, Pilou Asbæk, and Dascha Polanco, Samaritan is now available to stream with an Amazon Prime subscription. You can read more about developing Sly movies via our upcoming Sylvester Stallone movies feature, and more about what’s coming from the superhero genre with our upcoming superhero movies guide.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.