As action movie stars aged in the past, they tended to be left behind by Hollywood. The thinking was that audiences wouldn't accept older actors as kick-ass heroes.
Things began to change, however, when Sylvester Stallone successfully brought boxer Rocky Balboa back to the big screen ten years ago, showing that audiences would still respond to lovable action figures, even if they were older and moved a bit slower. While Rocky Balboa was more of a character drama, Stallone's Rambo was a straight-out action movie, complete with surprisingly explicit violence. It too proved to be a success at the box office.
Soon thereafter, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull confirmed that beloved characters are almost always welcome. The following year, Taken showed that audiences had no problem at all in accepting older actors as new action stars, as long as the movie was entertaining. Liam Neeson wasn't even known for his action roles at the time and his character was brand-new.
All these movies laid the groundwork for Stallone to team up with a ridiculously fun assortment of older actors in The Expendables. Most were known as action stars (Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren) while others were more notable for their dramatic roles (Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke), but everyone got in the outlandish spirit that was established by Stallone, who cowrote the script, directed and starred in the project.
That was followed in short order by The Expendables 2 (adding Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger) and The Expendables 3 (adding Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas and more).
Last year, we heard that Stallone and company might be heading to TV for an "event series." Now, however, comes news that the fourth and final installment of the series is on its way to the big screen. Splendid Film has acquired distribution rights in German-speaking Europe to The Expendables 4, according to The Hollywood Reporter (via SlashFilm), with a theatrical release planned in 2018. Reportedly, Stallone, Statham and Schwarzenegger will return for the sequel.
Who else might return or join in the light hearted adventure? In 2015, Hulk Hogan said that he and Stallone talked about Hogan playing "the most evil man in the world." If that doesn't work out, what about Danny Glover? Or Bill Paxton? Let us know your picks in the comments below!