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Action icons tend to stick together. Through thick and thin, the cinematic badasses of the 1980s and 1990s have seemingly forged strong connections over the last few decades through their shared body of work. No film series epitomizes that concept more than Sylvester Stallone's Expendables franchise. However, Stallone recently dropped out of the planned fourth installment of the series, and now it seems that Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want to work on the film without his brother in arms.
During a recent conversation with EW, Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that he would likely not return to The Expendables franchise without Sylvester Stallone. The former bodybuilding champion turned Hollywood icon appeared in the three previous Expendables films, but he apparently has no interest in reprising his role as Trench if Sylvester Stallone does not return to headline the series as Expendables leader Barney Ross because Stallone IS The Expendables franchise. It's not necessarily hard to understand what Schwarzenegger is talking about here; the franchise even derives its name from a famous line about John Rambo being "expendable" from First Blood: Part II. There's a very easy case that you truly cannot have an Expendables movie without Stallone's involvement. Schwarzenegger said:
There is no Expendables without Sly. I would never do the movie without him, no.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's hesitation to come back to The Expendables franchise (coupled with Sylvester Stallone's departure) raises some fairly legitimate questions about the future of the series. They're two of the most bankable stars in the entire franchise, so removing them would put quite a bit of extra weight on Jason Statham's shoulders -- and he already looks pretty comfortable over in the Fast & Furious franchise. Guys like Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews are certainly popular actors, but they're not major box office draws, so the Expendables may need to start a massive recruitment program if they want to live to fight another day. Schwarzenegger also revealed that the current plan is for The Expendables 4 to begin shooting as early as August, so the folks behind the sequel will need to move fast.
Of course, now seems like a good enough time to offer up another critical question: do we need another Expendables movie? The series is grounded in an incredibly novel concept, but the films have continuously deteriorated in quality since the first film debuted in 2010. It's clear that Sylvester Stallone can still get his fellow action icons onboard for other franchises (such as 2013's Escape Plan, which starred Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger) so now might simply be the time to let The Expendables franchise rest in peace so that the actors can move on to something else entirely.
We will bring you more information related to the future of The Expendables 4 as more details are made available to us. For now, you can catch Arnold Schwarzenegger in Aftermath, which will debut in theaters and on VOD this Friday. For more information related to the rest of this year's theatrical movie debuts, check out our comprehensive movie premiere guide.