BySteven Brinn, writer at
Covering action movies, horror and assorted other wackiness. Follow me on Twitter: @douchebagbatman
Steven Brinn

In a shocking turn of events Sylvester Stallone has left the Expendables franchise. According to reports, despite an upfront of more than $20 million, he won't be returning because he couldn't work out differences with Nu Image/Millennium chief Avi Lerner. Rumor has it that the two clashed on a lot of issues and, not wanting to see brand hurt, left the series. Even worse, it has come out that Arnold Schwarzenegger won't return without Stallone. It's a blow to the popular series, but not fatal. In fact, Stallone leaving could be a blessing in disguise.

It's devastating for a series to lose its lead, especially one as integral as Stallone was to The Expendables. That said, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the series. While important, Stallone wasn't the main appeal of the series. The main appeal of The Expendables is seeing action stars, old and new, together for a visceral mixture of bullets, explosions and cheesy one-liners. So, before we declare this the death of the franchise, here are 10 actors that could make The Expendables the great series it was always meant to be.

1. Will Smith

Will Smith in 'Suicide Squad' [Credit: Warner Brothers]
Will Smith in 'Suicide Squad' [Credit: Warner Brothers]
  • Battle Record: The Bad Boys series, Independence Day, Suicide Squad
  • Best Action Scene: The shootout Smith has with Haitian drug dealers in Bad Boys 2 is a thing of genius.

When it comes to major action movie stars, there are few bigger than . As good as he can be as a dramatic actor, he has proven time and again time and again to be perfect for the action genre. Whether surrounded by supervillains or taking down drug cartels, his charming personality and quick wit have made him the perfect action star. With Bad Boys 3 being slow to materialize, The Expendables would be a perfect for the former Fresh Prince.

2. Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan in 'Police Story' [Credit: Golden Harvest]
Jackie Chan in 'Police Story' [Credit: Golden Harvest]
  • Battle Record: Police Story, Rush Hour, Rumble in the Bronx
  • Best Action Scene: Chan's chase through a shanty town in Police Story is so good it was nearly recreated shot-for-shot in Bad Boys 2.

Since the series has been announced, there has been plenty of names bandied about and one of the most frequent has been . A legend in Hong Kong action, he made a name for himself in the States thanks to his eye for action choreography, his sense of humor and doing his own stunts. Even at 62, Chan still puts in some stellar efforts in movies like Chinese Zodiac and Police Story 2013. Able to keep up with some of the latest action stars, and even having his own highly-acclaimed stunt team, Jackie Chan is a no-brainer when it comes to joining The Expendables 4.

3. Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich in 'Resident Evil: Retribution' [Credit: Screen Gems]
Milla Jovovich in 'Resident Evil: Retribution' [Credit: Screen Gems]
  • Battle Record: Resident Evil series, The Fifth Element, A Perfect Getaway
  • Best Action Scene: One of the best scenes in the Resident Evil franchise has to be from Retribution, when she has a hallway fight that would make Oldboy proud.

For what feels like the longest time there have been rumors of a spin-off called The Expendabelles, an expendables-style movie with a female cast. There have even been casting rumors featuring the likes of Cameron Diaz, Gina Carano and even Meryl Streep. The most exciting rumored cast member (at least to me) was . Most well known as Alice in the Resident Evil movies, she has proven herself to be a bonafide action star in that video game-based series. The former model has also stolen the show in movies like The Fifth Element and the horror thriller A Perfect Getaway. If they ever want to get Expendabelles off the ground, there is no better way than having her lead The Expendables 4.

4. Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White in 'Black Dynamite' [Credit: Destination Films]
Michael Jai White in 'Black Dynamite' [Credit: Destination Films]
  • Battle Record: Spawn, Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite
  • Best Action Scene: His battle against Boyka (Scott Adkins) at the end of Undisputed 2 is a dream for any martial arts movie fan.

One of the best parts of The Expendables series is how it gives roles to some of the more underrated stars of the action genre. The first three films had the likes Scott Adkins, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Gary Daniels in memorable roles. One name The Expendables have yet to recruit is , and this is the perfect time to let him shine. Best known for 1997's Spawn, he has a made a name for himself as one of the most dependable names in the direct-to-video game. It may be a risk, but there's no better person to join The Expendables than Michael Jai White.

5. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves in 'John Wick' [Credit: Summit Entertainment]
Keanu Reeves in 'John Wick' [Credit: Summit Entertainment]
  • Battle Record: John Wick series, The Matrix series, Speed
  • Best Action Scene: The lobby shootout in The Matrix is one of the best action scenes period.

Few have had the longevity in the action genre has had. From Speed to The Matrix to John Wick, the past 20 plus years have seen him star in some of the most influential films of the genre. Then there's the fact that he wowed everyone with his directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi. Released in 2013, it was an old-school kung fu movie that was praised by not only critics but legendary director John Woo. Further proof that whether it's in front of the camera or behind it, Reeves is a perfect fit to replace Stallone.

6. Chow-Yun Fat

Chow Yun-Fat in 'A Better Tomorrow' [Credit: Cinema City & Films Co.]
Chow Yun-Fat in 'A Better Tomorrow' [Credit: Cinema City & Films Co.]
  • Battle Record: A Better Tomorrow, Hard Boiled, The Killer
  • Best Action Scene: Not only beautifully shot, but his single shot hospital gunfight in Hard Boiled is the stuff of legend.

One of the biggest showbiz stories of the past few years has been the increased presence of the Chinese market in Hollywood. It's more viable than ever to cast Chinese actors, and there are few Hong Kong actors bigger than . Best known for his work with John Woo, he starred in some of the most influential crime movies of the '80s. Still kicking ass into his 60s, this Hong Kong film legend is perfect for the international market.

7. Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell in 'Big Trouble in Little China' [Credit: Twentieth Century Fox]
Kurt Russell in 'Big Trouble in Little China' [Credit: Twentieth Century Fox]
  • Battle Record: Big Trouble in Little China, The Hateful Eight, Escape From New York
  • Best Action Scene: As the villainous Stuntman Mike, his epic car chase in Death Proof is one of the best chase scenes of the 2000s.

Who better to replace Stallone than his co-star in the criminally underrated Tango & Cash? With the '80s box office dominated by the Stallones and Schwarzennegers of the time, it is easy to forget that is one of the best action stars of the '80s. Starting with Escape From New York, his work with John Carpenter would lead to a string of cult classics like Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing. He would show a charisma and likability that few other actors have.

More recently, Russell has transformed these qualities, becoming the perfect grizzled veteran in The Hateful Eight and Bone Tomahawk. With an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 set to make Kurt Russell bigger than ever, it is the perfect time to have him lead these ragtag mercenaries.

8. Nic Cage

Nicolas Cage in 'Con Air' [Credit: Buena Vista Pictures]
Nicolas Cage in 'Con Air' [Credit: Buena Vista Pictures]
  • Battle Record: Face/Off, Con Air, The Rock
  • Best Action Scene: Heck, Face/Off is one giant epic action scene.

Thanks to some poorly chosen roles and “unique” performances, has become more of a punchline in recent years. As easy as it is to rag on the Academy Award-winner, it doesn’t mean he can’t still kick ass. We have seen his unique acting style used to perfection in over-the-top action movies like Drive Angry and Face/Off. He even played a major part in the film that put director Michael Bay on the map: The Rock.

Cage would certainly be a departure from Stallone, but that might make it better. While The Expendables has never taken itself too seriously, an actor like Cage could open the flood gates when it comes to ridiculous action, which could go a long way in keeping the franchise fresh.

9. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

The Rock in 'Fast 5' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
The Rock in 'Fast 5' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
  • Battle Record: San Andreas, The Fast & Furious series, The Rundown
  • Best Action Scene: The Rock vs. Jason Statham was something I had never thought of before, but it was more than I could have dreamed of in Furious 7.

There’s a reason why Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was called Franchise Viagra during his last appearance on SNL. Over the years, he has used his star power to make the Journey movies and the Fast & Furious top-tier franchises. Why not do it with The Expendables? The former WWE Champion certainly has the credentials with a string of hit films and has been featured in some of the best action scenes of the past decade. Having already gone on record as wanting to be involved with the franchise, I don’t see any reason to not let The People’s Champ lead The Expendables.

10. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible 3' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible 3' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
  • Battle Record: The Mission: Impossible series, the Jack Reacher series, Collateral
  • Best Action Scene: Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol still elicits gasps from me six years later.

As unlikely as it is to happen, Hollywood royalty is the perfect choice to replace Sylvester Stallone. For over 20 years he has done pretty much everything an actor could do in the action genre. An Air Force pilot? Check. A future policeman? Check. A super spy, quadruple check. He has even been a menacing villain in the often-overlooked Collateral. He even does his own stunts, which is something you can’t say about most actors. It may be a long shot, but with two decades worth of killer movies and one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history, Tom Cruise could take The Expendables to a whole new level.

America's Most Wanted

Schwarzenneger, Stallone and Bruce Wills in 'The Expendables 2' [Credit: Lionsgate]
Schwarzenneger, Stallone and Bruce Wills in 'The Expendables 2' [Credit: Lionsgate]

Sylvester Stallone was always an integral part to The Expendables franchise, but while losing him is a major blow to the series, it isn’t enough to kill it. There are plenty of action stars that would not only be a suitable replacement, but their influence could change it for the better, making it even better than before. So, here’s hoping they can find someone new to lead The Expendables and can make it the epic action movie series it was always meant to be.

Who would you like to see replace Sylvester Stallone? What would you like to see in The Expendables 4? Hit up the comments below!


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