Yes, you read the headline correctly. Millennium hopes to capitalize on the success of Expendables by launching an estrogen-fueled romp known as ExpendaBelles, with a script co-penned by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, the writing duo responsible for feminine comedy titles like Legally Blonde, She’s The Man, The House Bunny, and The Ugly Truth.
ExpendaBelles is just one of two developing variations on an ‘Expendables: Ladies Edition’ that we began rooting for over two years ago. The other is a still-untitled action flick from producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Dredd 3D), with ex-MMA fighter Gina Carano and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as the first two actresses attached to star.
Many people are starting to realize that Shankar’s project isn’t shaping up to be so much a carbon-copy riff on Expendables (only with women), as it is a hard-hitting thriller featuring female actors with a penchant for playing badass onscreen (or real life, in Carano’s case). Deadline, however, indicates that ExpendaBelles is going to a true ‘female Expendables,’ as it will attempt to show “the feminine side of the mercenary business” with a cast of seasoned stars “who’ve logged time in action films over the years.”
That could include leading ladies with their own franchises from the past ten years – like Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) and Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) – as well as graduates from action/thrillers in the 1980s and ’90s such as Geena Davis (Long Kiss Goodnight) and Cynthia Rothrock (Undefeatable). However, it’s worth pointing out that most of those same names are still considered fair game for Shankar’s project, as far as the general public is concerned.
Now, as it stands, I envision these two ‘female Expendables‘ movies will go in either one of two directions:
- The Charlie’s Angels movies – ie. a mix of grrl-powered camp and kinetic action, and hopefully less exploitation of its female leads.
- Grittier thrillers such as Salt or Haywire - ie. action movies that just happen to star women, but still possess a distinct feminine (rather than masculine) flavor.
ExpendaBelles seems more likely to go with Option #1, given the description from Deadline, as well as the collective writing resume of Lutz and Smith; meanwhile, Shankar’s project seem to be traveling the second route, judging by initial casting and the producer’s own filmography. Between the two approaches, I would have to go with the latter, as that not only feels like the more genuine and progressive way to take – it’s also proven to be more entertaining, in my opinion.
Bear in mind, this is all speculation right now. Lutz and Smith could very well be planning to stray far away from their previous work, much like the Russo Brothers are leaving behind their broad comedy roots by making Captain America: The Winter Soldier a darker and more visceral superhero flick. Moreover, Millennium is not expected to begin casting for ExpendaBelles until the first script draft has been finished, so things are in flux right now.
Still, since all we really have to judge right now – with respect to both projects – are the films previously made by the people behind them… well, Shakar’s movie has got my vote so far. How about you?
More on ExpendaBelles as the story develops.