By Gabe Toro | The Playlist May 12, 2011 at 6:20AM
You asked for it: Sly and the gang are suiting up for "The Expendables 2." As the last film made a killing in international pre-sales, so will this one, as Nu Image is shopping the yet-to-be-shot actioner in Cannes with this brand new poster. Yes, it reeks of cheese, but it's also a mock-up probably done by one lowly intern on his lunch break, merely an announcement that "this movie exists." It does seem telling that, unlike last time, there isn't a giant list of names all over this thing, as shooting is very tenuously planned for the fall despite the likelihood that cast members from the first film may be busy.
There was also an supposedly-official synopsis doing the rounds: it's a bit spoiler-heavy, so we'll just link to it and let you know that an Expendable dies and his daughter must be recruited. Also, surprise, there's a ruthless dictator involved. Like the poster, this synopsis may have been written by that same lazy intern, as Sylvester Stallone has reported to the StalloneZone that it is "not correct" and the "real storyline will be forthcoming."
Many remember the changes made to the various leaked "Expendables" scripts, including the elimination of a gay Expendable, Eric Roberts' role originally written for a female, and more pirate action, so it's not a surprise that Stallone will probably tweak the story all throughout shooting, even though he is not writing or directing. Nevertheless, it's possible the synopsis was at some point accurate, and Stallone is responding to the skepticism of the fans, who heavily informed the casting and story direction for the original. Stallone listened to the fans regularly when it came time to develop another "Rambo," toying with a science fiction angle before burying the project completely after negative feedback, so using fans as a sounding board has become common practice by now.
The hot rumors also suggest Jean-Claude Van Damme will be onboard. At least according to Van Damme best bud Sheldon Lettich, who used to direct JCVD in films like "Lionheart" and "The Order" but now updates fans on VanDammeFan.net (registration required!). Van Damme was previously training to get back in the ring, but Lettich gives us the hint that the fight's been canceled, possible to focus on a role Lettich describes as a "villain." He may have spoke too soon, as Van Damme's agent claims, "Sheldon misled you unfortunately; I do not even have an offer for JCVD to do Expendables 2."
It's well-known at this point that Van Damme was offered a role in the first film, turning it down because he didn't know what type of character he would play, an assertion given truth by the fact that Stallone was rewriting down to the wire, and that the movie ended up being "The Expendables." This rumor is corroborated by a sequence in the thoroughly-engaging JCVD reality show "Behind Closed Doors," where Van Damme confirms an "Expendables 2" conversation with Stallone. The last minute subtraction of a scene where a character flings a knife at a wall poster of Van Damme suggests Stallone wasn't intent on burning any bridges, so the possibility that this meeting took place (possibly between Van Damme's editing sessions on his supposedly-disastrous three hour long directorial debut "The Eagle Path") is not a surprise.