Sylvester Stallone is reportedly a no-go for The Expendables 4 and it sounds like his buddy, Arnold Schwarzegger, is taking a pass too. It wasn't until the 2010 old school action-movie revival/homage The Expendables that '80s icons Stallone and Schwarzengger finally shared the screen, though at the time Arnold was still governor of California and could only muster a brief cameo. Freed from the responsibilities of political office, Schwarzenegger was available for a larger role alongside Stallone in Expendables 2, and then came back for Expendables 3. The pair also appeared together in Escape Plan in 2013.
With Expendables 4 being confirmed earlier in 2017, it seemed inevitable that yet another Stallone-Schwarzenegger pairing was in the offing. Then, it was reported that Stallone is passing on Expendables 4 due to creative issues and suddenly the whole future of the project was cast in doubt.
Without Stallone, one of the main creative forces behind the Expendables franchise and one of the top draws among its cast of stars, it's fair to wonder if there's even any point going forward with another movie. That's the exact sentiment that was expressed by Arnold Schwarzenegger to EW when asked if he would continue being involved with The Expendables without Stallone:
"There is no Expendables without Sly. I would never do the movie without him, no.”
Schwarzenegger told EW that he hasn't seen a script for Expendables 4 and doesn't even know if there is a script. The actor then addressed his overall feelings about the Expendables series and mentioned that, like a lot of people, he wasn't a particularly big fan of the compromised Expendables 3:
“You know, I think the first and second one were terrific. But, the third one, I thought my part was not written well. It was also not playing well in the movie, as far as I was concerned. Maybe other people believed differently. But I didn’t believe that I had any value in the movie. I love the franchise, by the way. I think it’s a spectacular franchise, The Expendables. I think that Sly has good ideas, what he wants to do with it, and I think if they write a really good script [in] which my part is very well-developed, I would do it. If not, then I won’t do it.”
Schwarzenegger has made his feelings pretty clear: Expendables 4 isn't happening for him unless Stallone is on-board and they do something more interesting with his own character. Clearly, Schwarzenegger is not down with merely dropping into Expendables 4 to do his old one-liners like a machine gun-toting Henny Youngman. Schwarzenegger has veered away from pure action in his recent movies, tackling more serious character-oriented drama in 2015's Maggie and the upcoming Aftermath, which releases on April 7th.
Though Expendables 3 was ripped by critics, it still made a good chunk of dough and all indications are that the franchise remains viable. Expendables 4 appears to be well underway with backing from Chinese producers, so it's still very possible that the movie will happen, but without Stallone and Schwarzenegger. At last report though, Dolph Lundgren was still involved.