Originally, Sylvester Stallone intended for The Expendables to be a comedy.

File this under the wide world of what-ifs in Hollywood history: What if “The Expendables” had been a comedy? That’s how director, co-writer, and star Sylvester Stallone originally envisioned the first film in the franchise, which kicked off in the summer of 2010 and is still going strong with a fourth installment in 2022.

It was not until late in the pre-production process that Stallone decided to shift creative directions and make “The Expendables” more of a straightforward action flick, albeit one that would have a certain testosterone-fueled ensemble appeal, as it teamed up actors, UFC and wrestling stars, and bodybuilders and Governators, like Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Expendables” was filmed in New Orleans — in a Winn-Dixie building-turned-film studio, of all places — and in a 2009 interview with Nola.com, Stallone explained how the movie began life as a comedy:

This was Stallone’s Wild Bunch

As Sylvester Stallone embraced the “hard R” idea for “The Expendables,” he began to see it as a movie akin to Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 Western “The Wild Bunch,” which was notorious in its day for its depiction of graphic violence. It’s worth pointing out that Stallone was coming off the fifth “Rambo” movie in 2008, which was also so violent that some now classify it as a splatter film. Of “The Expendables,” he said.

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