Expend4bles director Scott Waugh has recently revealed that, despite the film bombing horrifically at the box office, a fifth installment is on the way, sans series lead Sylvester Stallone. Stallone has headed the famed mercenary team through all of their adventures thus far, receiving screenwriting credits for the first three films in the franchise, as well as a directing credit for the first.
With this gaping absence, Expendables 5 offers a spot with big shoes to fill, though a few names spring to mind that may offer a perfect fit for the action-packed film series.
4. Will Smith
Will Smith may not be the muscle-bound man-monster that many iconic 80’s action stars embody, but he is a certified Hollywood legend with a number of high-intensity action scenes under his belt.
Whether he’s violently welcoming an alien to the Earth’s soil in Independence Day, battling his younger self in Gemini Man, or instilling the fear of god into Chris Rock during an Oscar ceremony, the Fresh Prince is seemingly always down to lay some fresh prints on his opponents’ faces.
Smith may not have the franchise bonafides of Sylvester Stallone, but he’s certainly a legacy actor who works well as a mercenary in a campy ensemble film such as Expendables 5.
This is further evidenced by the fact that Will Smith’s performance is one of the only things still praised to this day by Suicide Squad audiences, despite his frequently-memed line delivery of “What are we, some kind of Suicide Squad?
Question Smith’s capability as a Sylvester Stallone replacement if you want, just be mindful to keep his wife’s name out of your mouth at all costs.
3. Hugh Jackman
Covering our bases with a more traditional macho man, Hugh Jackman is always a safe bet when you’re looking for two tickets to the gun show. The star has proven that he’s still got it with behind-the-scenes photos from the production of the upcoming Deadpool 3 film, where Jackman is set to reprise his role as Wolverine for the first time in over 6 years.
If you’re looking for a ripped action hero with the gravitas to lead a team of extraordinary action heroes into battle, it doesn’t get much better than the former X-Men frontman.
When Sylvester Stallone set out to create the Expendables franchise, his goal was to bring together a massive ensemble of 80’s and 90’s action stars, in an effort to wow audiences with the sheer star power on screen.
Given that Expendables 5 is set to serve as something of a legacy sequel to the original trilogy, it only seems fair to start including action icons of the early 21st century.
2. Samuel L. Jackson
Given Samuel L. Jackson’s penchant for appearing in seemingly everything, it may shock you to learn that he has never once shown up in an Expendables film to deliver a perfectly placed F-bomb.
With over 200 credited appearances on his IMDb, the Nick Fury actor’s versatility simply cannot be questioned. Jackson has held starring action roles in dozens of high-octane thrillers, meaning it feels like it’s only a matter of time before he drops in to stand alongside the few remaining members of the Expendables mercenary team.
While he may not seem like an obvious replacement for Sylvester Stallone in Expendables 5, Samuel L. Jackson would fit right in with the remaining cast, which includes Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, and Megan Fox.
His leading role in the Disney+ mini-series Secret Invasion proves that the 74-year-old actor can still shoulder a thrilling action-adventure premise, complete with all the double-crossing, armed conflict, and espionage that fans of the Expendables films have come to expect.
1. Keanu Reeves
It seems like a no-brainer to put Keanu Reeves at the top of this list, as the John Wick star all but single-handedly redefined the action genre for an all-new audience of movie-goers.
Though his biggest action accolades are too recent for the star to be considered a legacy act like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, audiences would no doubt welcome a pseudo-crossover event between the Expendables and John Wick film franchises in Expendables 5.
Honorable mentions for Sylvester Stallone replacements could go to Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Mark Wahlberg, and many other names in modern action films, but none have quite the cult following like Keanu Reeves.
If you’ve seen any behind-the-scenes footage of Keanu Reeves training for his John Wick outings then you know the social media darling could slide directly into the stunt-heavy film franchise like he was always part of the gang to begin with.
Of course, each of the names on this list could join the franchise at any time. With Expendables 5 seemingly hemorrhaging leading talent, we may soon have an entirely new team of Expendable mercenaries on our hands.