Recently, I found myself looking at the new ad for The Expendables 3 in the Chronicle movie section when I notice something odd: There are 17 names listed in the ad but only 16 faces appear in the group photo.
So who was "expendable"?
I figured it would be Kelsey Grammer (I never pictured Dr. Frasier Crane as much of an Action Figure). But no, it looks like it's Jet Li who's Missing In Action.
Why the Jet lag? Couldn't Lionsgate at least have Photoshoped him into their poster?
My curiosity piqued, I decided to go online. Peering at the Internet through my high-def Googles, I soon discovered there were other "expendables" as well.
Mila Jovovich and Jackie Chan were—at one point—supposed to be in the cast. (Chan's schedule was booked solid: but word is, you can look for him in The Expendables 4.)
Stranger yet, there are inconsistent Expendables 3 movie posters available online (presumable printed early in the production schedule before the final line-up was firmed up). These "posters from an alternate-universe" include the names and faces of the following MIA actors: Jackie Chan, Bruce Willis, Nicholas Cage and Steven Seagal (featuring an archival image of Seagal when he was 40 pounds lighter).
There's an Expendables 3 poster hyping the production as "A John Woo Film" (Simon West is actually the director of this sequel). This version of the Expendables adds the faces of Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood to the cast. Kurt Russell is featured in one of a series of stand-alone portraits of Expendable 3 cast-members. (Everyone else in this portrait-series is in the movie. Kurt, for some reason, is the only outlier. Perhaps his unconscious body is sprawled out on some cutting-room floor.)
Most spectacular of the bunch, however, is an elaborate movie poster from the distributor, Lionsgate, that features a cast of—prepare yourself—34 snarling, muscle-bound stars! (Again, I surmise that this poster may have been part of an early financing campaign designed to attract the widest possible interest in a new installment of the Expendables franchise.) However this ad came to be, it did not stint in adding lots of A-list macho-meat to the superhero stew—adding the names and faces of Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Liam Hemsworth, Daniel Craig, Kate Beckinsale, Hugh Jackman, Paul Bettany, Jesse Ventura, Vin Diesel, Ron Perlman, Danny Trejo, Keanu Reeves and one of the Baldwin brothers. (I even believe I spotted an unlisted Duane Johnson—third row from the top, fourth from the left).
Anyone feeling bereft because Kate Beckinsale does not actually turn up in the final release print of Expendables 3 can take heart in the following report, courtesy of IndieWire.com:
Expendables 2 director Simon West got the ball rolling in 2012 when he expressed interest in an all-female spin-off of the The Expendables franchise, telling E! Online:
"I like the idea of the Expenda-Belles where it's seven or eight women mercenaries. It would be Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Milla Jovovich, the list goes on. Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis would be great... It would be running parallel. They would meet up and then they would fight and they would join up and save each other."
Our man Terry Crews, who plays Hale Caesar in the Expendables movies, was vocal with his support of the idea, adding: "I would love to see Charlize Theron. She would be a sweet badass just doing some crazy stuff!"
(Speaking of doing crazy stuff, when I first saw that movie ad, I had no idea I'd be expending so much time trying to answer this ridiculous question.)