We’re at a turning point in the cultural zeitgeist, concerning the representation of women. Male-dependent damsels like Bella Swan are increasingly frowned upon, in an age where princesses prefer swordplay to swooning over prince charmings. Televised hits Mad Men and Game of Thrones explore patriarchal societies in historical and fantasy context, while Homeland examines feminist ideals in the new century. This is a banner year for blockbusters featuring modern action heroines, thanks to Haywire, The Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Brave.
Thus, there is no time like the present for an Expendables-riff that unites all the armed-and-dangerous babes who’ve graced the silver screen. Director Simon West (Expendables 2) has revealed a desire to incorporate an “Expenda-Belles” team in a future installment, name-dropping such gals as Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider) and Helen Mirren (RED) as possibilities. However, reports are in that Hollywood has begun the process of assembling a girls-exclusive riff on Expendables that takes place in a separate universe (but maintains the badassery factor).
Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables celebrates the past exploits of its masculine cast by teaming over-the-hill superstars (Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger) with beefcakes in their prime like Terry Crews and Randy Couture. Expendables 2 (read our review) opens the floodgates wider to include a female screen hero (Yu Nan) and youthful face (Liam Hemsworth) for a second round of ultra-violence and self-camp nods to Americana die-hard cinema. Two years ago, we here at Screen Rant assembled our own dream cast for a feminine-flavored Expendables that brought together definitive badass ladies (Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton) with icons of the past 15 years, in Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez.
Executive producer Adi Shankar is developing an all-woman take on Expendables. Variety says that Shankar will back through his 1984 Private Defense Contractors banner, with newcomer Dutch Southern scripting. Shankar stumbled with the biopic Machine Gun Preacher, but went on to find success with gory machismo flick The Grey and the viral hit Punisher: Dirty Laundry short. He also has violent films both visceral (Dredd) and artistically-satisfying (Killing Them Softly) in the can. Suffice it to say, he brings with him the practical experience and knowledge to ensure an effeminate Expendables is also an impressive one.
Early negotiations are ongoing with “several prominent actresses affiliated with the action genre” to sign on for Shankar’s (untitled) female Expendables. Celebrities ranging from 1980s and ’90s relics Cynthia Rothrock (Undefeatable) and Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja) to actresses Jennifer Garner (Alias) and Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) fit that bill, along with the younger Summer Glau (Firefly) and her Sarah Connor Chronicles costar Lena Headey. Potentials range from Zoe Saldana (Colombiana) to Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) – and far too many others to list here.
Stallone engineered a simple, but satisfactory, excuse for craggly hooligans of the big screen to work under the same roof in Expendables: they are all mercenaries, unified across different nationalities by the desire to reduce cartoonish baddies to mincemeat (and get paid while doing it). The female equivalent could follow suit, without straining credibility more than Sly’s machismo franchise does. Of course, suspension of disbelief will be of little concern to men and women who just want to see some fine gals kick ass (and chew bubblegum, perhaps).
Who would you like to see recruited for a female-centric Expendables? Moreover, who would you like to see play the villain in an all-women Expendables? Sound off in the comments section, and who knows – maybe some of the bigwigs around Tinseltown take notice of demand from fans (hey, we can dream, right?).
The Expendables 2 is playing in theaters around the U.S.