Director Scott Waugh revealed that Stallone isn’t returning for Expendables 5, which means there’s a space open for another iconic action hero.
- Dwayne Johnson, with his status as a top movie star, could be the perfect replacement for Stallone in Expendables 5 and boost the franchise’s box office performance.
- Nicolas Cage’s edgier and unpredictable persona could inject new life into the Expendables series and revitalize the action-packed franchise.
- Donnie Yen, known for his impressive martial arts skills, could greatly enhance the fight choreography in Expendables 5 and bring a fresh dynamic to the cast.
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Expendables 4 director Scott Waugh revealed that Stallone won’t return for Expendables 5, which leaves open a spot on the roster for another iconic action hero. The 2023 movie sees the return of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and Barney Ross (Stallone), who reunite the titular mercenary team to bring down another villain. However, while the series’ big appeal is the impressive cast of ’80s and ’90s action stars, Expendables 4 leaves a lot to be desired. Only Statham, Stallone, and Dolph Lundgren return, with 50 Cent and Megan Fox joining the team. Unfortunately, the rapper and Transformers actor barely makes up for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis’ absences.
Regretfully, even Stallone is absent for most of the movie, and Expendables 4 simply feels like another Statham-led action flick. Stallone left the movie’s development in 2017 due to creative differences with the studio, only to return in a much smaller capacity in 2018. As a result, Expendables 4 feels like a shell of its former self. Now, Waugh has doubled down on Expendables 4’s biggest misstep, as he revealed that Stallone’s Barney Ross won’t appear in Expendables 5. However, while that means the fifth movie faces a difficult challenge, it also opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to casting Statham’s action hero costar.
10 Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson is the obvious choice for Stallone’s replacement, as the actor is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. The Rock is undoubtedly an action hero, and his years as a professional wrestler only add to his resume for Expendables 5. Johnson is also one of the most bankable movie stars, and his starring role will no doubt pull the franchise out of the box office hole it has found itself in. Johnson and Statham on screen together might be a little too reminiscent of Hobbs & Shaw, but at the same time, Expendables 5 could make up for the lack of Hobbs & Shaw 2.
9 Nicolas Cage
It’s a wonder why Nicolas Cage hasn’t already been in an Expendables movie. The actor might be a little edgier and more unpredictable than the more traditional and reliable action heroes like Bruce Willis, but Cage has been in some bombastic action classics such as Con Air and Face/Off. The Expendables series has gotten a little too sober for its own good, so adding Cage to the cast could revitalize the franchise. As Cage is enjoying a huge comeback with films like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and as he featured as Superman in The Flash, it’s the perfect time to introduce Cage into the Expendables series.
8 Donnie Yen
The Expendables 4 cast was exciting thanks to the addition of Iko Uwais, who made a name for himself with the gun-fu-centric Raid franchise. The actor is an incredible martial artist who performs his own stunts, but he was underused in the fourquel. However, Expendables 5 can cast another impressive martial artist who has become a bankable actor. Donnie Yen showed off his fighting skills in the Ip Man franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and he joined the John Wick: Chapter 4 cast. If Yen was in a lead role in Expendables 5, there’s no doubt that the franchise’s fight choreography would improve too.
7 Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has become one of the figureheads of female-led action movies. The actor starred in the 2000s Tomb Raider series, and while the films received a mixed reception at the time, Jolie was nothing but iconic as the treasure hunter. Since those early 2000s films, there has been a steady stream of Jolie-led action movies, including Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt, and many others that make her qualified to join the action-star-laden Expendables cast. As the actor doesn’t act half as much as she used to, appearing in an action-filled Expendables movie could be the perfect comeback for Jolie too.
6 Will Smith
Will Smith doesn’t often share screen time with other big-name actors, and he’s always the hero of the movie. In that respect, it’s unlikely that Smith would want to join an action movie that’s known for its ensemble cast. However, given that Smith has been humbled in recent years, sharing the screen with other high-profile actors would be in his best interest, and it’d also give audiences something that they so rarely see; Smith being a part of an accolade-heavy, immersive ensemble cast. Not to mention that it’d be so much fun to see quick-witted actor hurling one-liners at other A-list stars.
5 Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves’ career has been like a rollercoaster, as it seemingly peaked in the early 2000s before completely dropping, then John Wick turned him into a bigger action hero than ever. Reeves is now the face of two iconic movie heroes; Neo and John Wick, along with starring in a number of other classic Keanu Reeves action movies, including Point Break and Speed. In that respect, there should be an open invitation for Reeves to join the Expendables cast at any time. Once again, due to Reeves’ commitment to stuntwork, the actor could elevate the franchise’s action sequences tenfold too.
4 Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu is one of the most overlooked actors when it comes to action, and she could become the most exciting part of Expendables 5. The actor starred in the 2000s Charlie’s Angels movies and played the villain O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill Vol. 1, which turned the actor into a badass action heroine (and villain). It has been over 20 years since her first action movie roles, which makes her a perfect Expendables 5 candidate, and she totally deserves to be Statham’s costar in the sequel. They’re even a similar age, which could make for a more age-appropriate onscreen romance than Statham and Fox.
3 Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell actually passed on Expendables, as he turned down the role of Mr. Church, which was offered to him personally by Sylvester Stallone. Russell mentioned that he’d “never seen any of them” and “It’s not a beat I get. It’s like looking backwards to me.” However, with the Expendables franchise now stripped back and Stallone out of the picture, Stallone could become the franchise lead. While Stallone accused Russell of not wanting to be part of an ensemble cast, Russell did exactly that throughout the 2010s with The Hateful Eight and the Fast & Furious franchise. Ironically, Russell could now have a much bigger role in Expendables 5.
2 Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron is another badass action hero who has proved time and again that she’s one of the best action stars of the 21st century, male or female. Theron stole the show from the titular character as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, and she has become the best and most interesting villain in the Fast & Furious franchise. Her hand-to-hand fight scene in Fast X with Michelle Rodriguez was the most exciting part of the movie. The actor even had her own John Wick-inspired gun-fu action movie, Atomic Blonde. Few actors are as dedicated to action as Theron, and she’d make a totally believable member of the mercenary team.
1 Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman might be tired of playing Wolverine because of the intense exercises and dieting, but being in his mid-50s, he’s the perfect age to join the Expendables team. It’s unlikely that Expendables 5 even happens following Expend4bles’ tragic box office performance, but if it does, there’s no actor more fitting to return the series to form than Jackman. Like the Expendables cast, Jackman is known for his iconic roles, committing to looking the part, and having limitless charisma. Jackman is one of the few actors today who still practices the characteristics of an ’80s action hero in modern-day movies, which is why he should replace Stallone in Expendables 5.