EX3: A Preliminary Look

EX2 is barely out, and fans are already anticipating EX3 with passion. Lots of rumors and stories have been circulating on EX3 possible cast and release dates. So let's recap and put things in perspective based on what has been said or reported so far.

Will EX3 happen?
EX2 actors Couture, Lundgren, Statham & Arnold have all evasively hinted at EX3. Lerner has already talked openly about the actors he and Sly have in mind for the sequel and that he's already approched.

Let's be real, if EX2 is a huge box-office hit as it's assumed to be, there is a strong chance that studios will finance the sequel. Rumor has it that The Expendables was always supposed to be a trilogy from the beginning and it was also Sly's vision when he initially came up with the idea. 

The only issue as always when planing a movie is timing.  
Couture has gone as far as saying that production could start as early as in fall 2012. It sounds very unlikely but it's actually the right time if studios want to realistically materialize EX3 for a release in 2013 and build on the momentum of EX2 or they'll have to wait for a 2014 release.

The problem is Sly & Arnold are not getting any younger, plus the latter will have a very busy schedule ahead of him (Breacher & Unknown Soldier are both in pre-production and Triplets is also rumored). A 2014 release sounds more realistic with production to start sometime in 2013. 

As far as the story goes, we might see a different genre according to Stallone: 

“We are thinking about different concepts – the third one is the hardest. The second is the natural progression. The third, that’s when the air gets rare. We’re thinking ambitiously about it… You now have to give audiences something they don’t expect at all – maybe even going into a different genre. Get out there a bit [to Arnold Schwarzenegger], maybe even rip-off one of your other films.”

Possible Cast?

Explaining who makes the casting decisions, Lerner says: "It's Sly and me. Sly is part of the production so we came together, we worked together on who we wanted. It's producer's decision." 

Current EX2 Actors -
Even though Lerner said that all the actors will be back, beside Stallone, Lundgren, Statham, Couture & Crews who are almost guaranteed to be in the party, everyone's participation in the sequel is not guaranteed.

Norris for instance, is very uncertain. He'll be 73 and had already retired from doing movies. He came out of his retirement for EX2, is set to do one final movie under his brother's direction "The Novice". He also revealed in
an interview with Access Hollywood that his involvement with the Expendables franchise was a one and done situation for him and he won't be returning for EX3: "Nope. Just number 2. This is it for me".

Willis, 50/50. He's been known lately to make 4-6 movies per year (6 releases in 2012 & 4 in 2013!) and seems to accept to take part as long as the right offer is on the table and his schedule permits. 

Arnold wants in and  has said it a few times in different interviews. The main issue to get him will be schedule and timing.

Li, chances are very slim. He didn't want to be in EX2. Stallone and the Studios did everything to convince him for a small role only, and had to take the whole production to China to accommodate him.

Van Damme & Adkins, probably not. Villains don't come back. But Van Damme ironically hinted that he wants to come back as his twin brother, and you never know, if Lerner & Sly want him back they will get creative.

Possible Non-EX2 Actors -

Cage seems to be already on board according to Lerner: "we’ve got Nicolas Cage to play one of the characters"

Eastwood has already been approached by Lerner, "we’ve approached Clint Eastwood to be one of the guys, we’ve got a character in mind for him." It's very unlikely that they get him. He has officially retired from acting after Gran Torino, only came back for one last movie as a favor to his associate Lorenz. Plus for the past ten years he has completely shifted his career from action movies. He'll be hard to convince but it'd be great if he is.

Ford sounds also unlikely but he's being talked to: "we’re talking to Harrison Ford" say Lerner. He's been accepting supporting roles lately ever since he has not been able to have any box-office hit on his own. Everything's possible, it will greatly depend on the role he'll be offered.

Rourke could come back: "and we’re going to bring Mickey Rourke back, if he won’t be too crazy. I like Mickey" says Lerner.

Snipes is on Lerner's list already: "Wesley Snipes when he comes back from prison" but his sentence in prison could be the deal breaker. Snipes will be released from prison in July 2013. If the studio is targeting a 2014 summer release then Snipes will be there in time, or he won't make it for a 2013 summer release.

Seagal who's probably the most wanted actor for EX3 (by the fans) has already hinted in an interview that he was offered a role. He would most likely take part if Lerner and him make up, and they will if Seagal's conditions are met and Studios want him badly. So says Lerner: "I'm not sure about Steven Seagal. We'll see."

Chan will be in if there is no conflict of schedule. He's already made it clear that he wants in and was already offered a role in EX2 but turned it down due to conflict of schedule with his movie Chinese Zodiac. If Li doesn't come back, Chan is a natural replacement.

Less Probable Non-EX2 Actors -

Banderas, is a strong possibility. He was offered a role in EX2 but declined, again due to conflicting schedules, but has left the door open to EX3.

Gina Carano said that Stallone was really considering her for one of the roles in EX2, "but they needed a girl from China". With Haywire she was definitely noticed and her participation in Fast 6 will only help her career in the action movie arena, she could definitely be called for EX3.

Travolta was approached for EX2 but was not interested at the time. Will he be approached again for EX3 and will he show interest this time?

Mel Gibson's name has been on everyone's lips. There is no confirmation or any hint that he's been approached. The only hint at his involvement in EX3 is from an unreliable tabloid. After Seagal he's one of the most wanted actors by the fans to be in EX3. His participation in EX3 is slim though due to his unpopularity in the Hollywood Jewish community and Lerner happens to be from Israel and calls the shots [together with Sly].

Dwayne Johnson has expressed his desire to be in the EX franchise. He said Sly tried to come to him for the first one. He was "unavailable but would love to work with Sly". EX3 is Sly's biggest opportunity to get him.

Donnie Yen was approached for EX2, declined because the role he was offered was not compelling enough. Will Sly tailor a better role for him in EX3 to finally convince him?

Fans Wish List

Other names have been on fans wish list but there has been no indication of their possible involvement in EX3: 

Russell was approached for the first one but was not interested in ensemble movies. Will he change his mind if approached?

Jai White indicated his desire to be in the franchise but confirmed that he was never approached.
Carl Weathers, Hulk Hogan, Bolo Yeung and others are also on some fans wish list but nothing has been said about them.

EX2's cast is already great and the best ever. As Sly nicely said it "its' a minor miracle". EX3 could go either way. If all the circumstances are right it could beat EX2, even though Van Damme will be missed like Seagal is missed in EX2. Or it could end up with a cast less desirable than what fans expectations are. Time will tell.