While The Expendables film franchise proved to be an extremely lucrative experiment at the box-office, corralling action stars of yesteryear for an awesome ensemble teeming with testosterone and one-liners, it seems to be in a bit of trouble going into its prospective fourth film with central star Sylvester Stallone’s recent exit. However, comments from co-star and fellow resident of action cinema’s imaginary Mount Rushmore, Arnold Schwarzenegger compound things.
Speaking to EW, action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays Trench, the occasional teammate and rival of Sylvester Stallone’s Barney Ross in The Expendables films, has expressed his reluctance to return to the film franchise should it goes forward without its primary star Stallone. Indeed, if The Expendables 4 is a South American jungle invaded by an alien Predator, then Schwarzenegger is ready to get to the proverbial “choppa,” stating:
“There is no Expendables without Sly [Stallone]. I would never do the movie without him, no.”
Indeed, Stallone is crucial, since his main character Barney Ross is the leader of The Expendables’ titular team of aging ass-kickers and he’s been one of the primary visionaries for the series, serving as director of the 2010 original, also having co-written the scripts for all three of the existing outings. The cast for the primary team members consist of Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture, with names like Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Ronda Rousey, Liam Hemsworth, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin and meme-master Chuck Norris all fielding roles throughout the films.
Schwarzenegger’s Trench has been a relatively minor part of the series, tending to arrive at key moments, fielding a friendly rivalry of sorts with Stallone’s Barney Ross. In fact, another reason potentially influencing Schwarzenegger’s no-return declaration is the especially diminished breadth of his already-small role in 2014’s The Expendables 3. As Schwarzenegger explains:
“You know, I think the first and second one were terrific. But, the third one, I thought my part was not written well. It was also not playing well in the movie, as far as I was concerned. Maybe other people believed differently. But I didn’t believe that I had any value in the movie. I love the franchise, by the way. I think it’s a spectacular franchise, The Expendables. I think that Sly has good ideas, what he wants to do with it, and I think if they write a really good script [in] which my part is very well-developed, I would do it. If not, then I won’t do it.”
While Stallone’s initial announcement of leaving The Expendables 4 came with the caveat that the project was “not dead,” it does seem to have left the four-quel (and intended series swan song,) in a state of flux. Yet, with Stallone only citing “disagreements” with Nu Image/Millennium studio boss Avi Lerneras as the reason for his exit, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s strong stance could bring parties back to the negotiating table.
The status of The Expendables 4 is not exactly stable at the moment and its presumed 2018 release window is likely in jeopardy.