by Preston Tolliver
According to various reports, both wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan and international action star Salman Khan are rumored to be in the talks for appearances in the next installment of Sylvester Stallone's aging action star-packed ‘Expendables’ franchise.
According to reports, Hogan made comments during an interview earlier this week alluding to his possible role as the villain of “The Expendables 4.” Hogan and Stallone first worked together in 1982 in “Rocky III,” with the 5-foot-whatever (he was short, is what I'm saying) Balboa facing off in a charity match against the gargantuan Thunderlips, billed as "The Ultimate Male." Hogan looked like a giant compared to Stallone, and treated him as such in the ring — tossing him over the ropes and brawling inside the squared circle until the bell rang, concluding Hogan's short role in the film with the two hugging it out and posing for news photographers (OK, I won't lie — it might be my favorite ‘Rocky’ scene).
Hogan is the second celebrity in recent weeks to enter speculation for the film after Stallone and Khan exchanged compliments over one another's work over Twitter earlier this month. Not knowing much (or anything) about Khan's work, it's hard to predict what he could bring to the franchise — but considering he's earned Stallone's praise, it'll most likely involve guns, guts and glory.
‘The Expendables’ has become a franchise not unlike the ever-popular comic book movies, with fans of the series daydreaming of what characters come next, and who's going to play who. Fans take their favorite characters and actors they watched growing up and dream of ways those characters can be integrated into the current film — it's what makes such films so damn fun. Obviously, that's what's about to happen here.
9. Lucy Liu
Not only is she a good actor and could succeed Ronda Rousey as the second major female cast member of the franchise, but Lucy Liu is no stranger to action flicks, and her resume extends far enough back to register her has a classic action heroine.
8. Jackie Chan
Chan is no stranger to action movies — for years he's done his own crazy stunts, but has in recent years fallen into obscurity. He doesn't do a whole lot in this hemisphere (though he is rumored for another ‘Rush Hour’ sequel), and a brief stint in ‘The Expendables’ could be just enough to remind viewers he's still got it.
7. Liam Neeson
Honestly, I'm tired of rooting for Liam Neeson while he roundhouses and armbars his way out of ridiculous situations — and that's why I'd like to see him in a toned down, antagonist role. We've seen what Liam Neeson can do as the good guy — the jaded but kindhearted father/ex-husband/widower — but we haven't been able to root against him in a while. And he's shown that he has plenty of talent to be a badass on the screen — It's time to see him bring that power to the dark side (Yeah, that was a ‘Star Wars’ reference. Deal with it).
6. Danny Glover
I'm putting Glover on this list for the sole purpose that I'd love to see him play a character seeking revenge on Stallone for killing his former partner (who, would of course, have been Mel Gibson's Stonebanks in the last movie). Come on, this stuff writes itself.
5. Tony Jaa
Jet Li was fun to watch in the first ‘Expendables,’ because he brought something to the movie's numerous firefights that the other stars didn't — speed and lethality without having to turn to guns. He was quick and fun to watch as he bounced from panel to panel, but he fell off quick — his roles in the second and third films were virtually nil, leaving the franchise with a void that could only be filled by someone equally as quick. Jaa could be the slender piece to Stallone's puzzling movie series. Known most notably as Tien in the ‘Ong-bak’ trilogy and for his role in “The Protector,” Jaa does a lot of stunts that are entirely unnecessary — like running down a street and jumping through a loop of barbed wire — but he sure is fun as hell to watch.
4. Carl Weathers
It's been a while since Weathers starred in an action film, and if his “Arrested Development” stint is any indication, he's not the same brawny Carl Weathers of the Apollo Creed days. But his involvement would be a nice throwback to fans who have followed Stallone's career. Give him a cameo in a bar with Stallone and Dolph Lundgren, and baby, you've got a stew goin'.
3. Michelle Rodriguez
Let me start by saying that I'm the last guy you'll see me waiting in line to see a Michelle Rodriguez movie. She doesn't know it, but we've been feuding for years — and I don't even remember why at this point. But she's proven in the ‘Fast’ franchise and in “Resident Evil” that she can bring a certain toughness to the screen, and let's be honest, the ‘Expendables’ movies could use more than just one token female character.
2. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
If you're bringing in Hulk Hogan, why not go for broke and bring in The Rock, too? Sure, it could feel like ‘The Expendables’ was turning into Wrestlemania, but in the last few years, The Rock has become more than that smack-talking, Rock-bottoming, People's Elbowing champion of old. Now, he's Dwayne mother-effing Johnson, action star. He's stolen the spotlight in both the ‘Fast’ and ‘G.I. Joe’ franchises, and is poised to keep on dominating the big screen.
1. Kurt Russell
Was there some falling out between Stallone and Russell that I don't know about? Because this seemed like a no-brainer three films ago, let alone five years after the first film hit theaters. Russell was the perfect yang to Stallone's yin in “Tango and Cash.” Russell's Gabe Cash was always quick to bust Stallone's Ray Tango, a relationship that seems to have been reincarnated by Jason Statham's Lee Christmas. But, as much as I love all things Statham, he's no Russell (nor can Statham match the shear awesomeness that is Russell's marvelous mullet), and two ball-busters in Stallone's cockpit (phrasing, I know) are better than one.
A lot of people rag on Stallone for the ‘Expendables’ franchise. It's overdone, and many of the actors' gooses are essentially cooked. But just like the aging stars who we five years ago presumed were all but dead, it looks like the ‘Expendables’ movies will continue to live on a little longer — and with endless possibilities, at that.