The names dropped so far are certainly eye-opening. Nicolas Cage, Taylor Lautner, Christopher Lambert and Christian Slater are mentioned, though it remains to be seen just how likely these candidates actually are. Cage, who isn't the headlining star he once was, is desperate for a big payday in a movie people want to see. With no frou-frou objections to the type of movie "The Expendables 2" is meant to be, Cage, who has worked with the notoriously shady Nu Image more than any current leading man, seems like he'd fit in hand in glove.
Lautner is another matter. He's been taking strides to establish himself as a bonafide leading man in the action genre, with "Abduction" seeing release in the next couple of weeks, and "Incarceron" a potential new franchise. Does he want to slip into an ensemble like "The Expendables"? If Lautner plays his cards right, he could have a Gerard Butler-type career, which would be painful for all of us, but good for his brand. Lionsgate, who is releasing "Abduction," may want to keep him in the fold, but it's not certain what an 'Expendables' sequel holds for him.
Lambert and Slater probably have less scruples about signing on. Slater's probably a recommendation from Stallone, as the two are currently working on "Bullet To The Head" together, though he may have to juggle other obligations, as his once-canceled Fox series "Breaking In" just scored a surprise renewal. And Lambert, who has a bit part in "Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance," has been mixing it up with independent, foreign and studio projects, but has never been too busy to ignore a sizable paycheck, and would be bringing his significant "Highlander" cachet to "The Expendables" roster.
All this said, it should be noted that no offers have been made yet and hell, none of these guys may end up being involved so if anything, its an indication of where casting wants to go. What's most interesting about these names is the wide net they cast, as these actors likely would not be up for the same roles. Particularly Lautner, who, being significantly younger than the other 'Expendables,' would likely be filling the role of the young Expendable that Liam Hemsworth was set to play in the first film before being jettisoned by a re-write. This probably means that, like the first film, they are going to head into a shooting schedule with a constantly changing script; Lionsgate has already penciled in the movie for an August 17th, 2012 release date, so the clock is certainly ticking.