“The Expendables” may be one of the most old-school action movies to be shown at this year’s Comic-Con, but it could have gone in a very different direction.
“I thought it would be great to a live-action 3-D movie,” director and star Sylvester Stallone told Hall H on Thursday afternoon, describing his thought process before he began shooting the ensemble shoot-‘em-up. “I was tempted.” But the star said he felt it would have constricted movement of the camera. “So I thought, ‘Why not not just do it old school, in a classical way?’ “
The panel featured plenty of unbridled testosterone — the proceedings kicked off when costar Terry Crews burst onto the stage and ripped his shirt off while he made his pecs move and went from there — as Stallone and his cast described plenty of the rough play on set.
Steve Austin, for instance, broke Stallone’s neck — “When a director writer tells you to kick the … out of you, I would,” Austin recounted — while Stallone recalled how costar Randy Couture was “cackling every time he broke someone in half.”
Panel moderator Harry Knowles, meanwhile, said that when he visited the set,” Jason Statham was there playing with knives, showing me all the different ways he could kill me.”
But each of the stars was eager to let us know that beneath the tough exterior beat the heart of a bromantic. “I still feel kind of unbelievable to be sitting here with these guys,” Dolph Lundgren, who reunites with Stallone in the Lionsgate picture nearly 25 years after the pair shot “Rocky IV,” said in one of numerous moments of platonic man-love.
Though he got top billing in the trailer for his cameo, and some on the panel teased the possibility that he was in the building, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t make an appearance in Hall H. And Bruce Willis ran onstage for five minutes, then ran off, with little explanation of where he was going. Still, the appearance of a half-dozen members of the bullet-belt posse was enough to satisfy even those with the most fervent macho cravings.
And if it wasn’t, fans could fantasize by thinking how the August release could have brought more musclebound machismo — Stallone noted that the ensemble of 1980s action stars could have been even broader. The director said that when he began casting, he got in contact with Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal, among others, in the hope they could join him in the throwback film. Said Stallone: “There were extenuating circumstances” — pause — “insanity” — pause. “But I reach out and try, I try.”
– Steven Zeitchik
Photo: “The Expendables.” Credit: Lionsgate
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