Sylvester Stallone had a great idea: produce a motion picture featuring action stars who, in the heyday of badass cinema, would have been too expensive to cast in a single film. The result was The Expendables, which united Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and many more, arguably smaller action stars, with cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This past weekend, the sequel, The Expendables 2, topped the box office by adding Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to the roster, and expanding (albeit slightly), Schwarzenegger and Willis's roles.
If you're paying attention, you'll notice a pattern here: none of these action luminaries are women. And while the 1980s genre entries to which The Expendables franchise pays homage were largely testosterone-fueled affairs, the past few decades have had more than their fair share of female action stars. If Stallone wasn't going to share his toys, many of us wondered, why doesn't someone produce a version of The Expendables with an all-female cast? Apparently Adi Shankar and his team at 1984 Private Defense Contractors, the producers of Machine Gun Preacher and The Grey (two of the most macho movies of the past couple years) were asking the same question. And they've answered it themselves: they're producing a film based on that very concept, and are currently in talks with "several prominent actresses affiliated with the action genre" according to Variety.
While no names were specifically mentioned in the story, the list of potential candidates is larger than perhaps some action fans realize. In addition to old school heavyweights like Pam Grier (Foxy Brown), Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2), Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), Cynthia Rothrock (China O'Brien), Geena Davis (The Long Kiss Goodnight), Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita) and Michelle Yeoh (Supercop), there are plenty of younger names who have proven their action chops. Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider), Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil), Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), Jessica Biel (Blade Trinity), Gina Carano (Haywire), Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious), Zoe Saldana (Avatar), Drew Barrymore (Charlie's Angels), Zhao Wei (Shaolin Soccer), Asia Argento (xXx), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), Charlize Theron (Aeon Flux) are all potential contenders. If Shankar decides to branch out to television the list gets longer, with Katee Sackhoff ("Battlestar Galactica"), Eliza Dushku ("Dollhouse"), Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Jennifer Garner ("Alias"), Lucy Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess"), Summer Glau ("Firefly") and Lena Headey ("Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles") filling out a potential roster.
Seriously, although female action heroes have rarely ignited the box office, taking a half dozen names at random from the above list and throwing them on the same poster, let alone the same screen, seems like as impressive a gimmick, at least, as any in theaters. We wish them luck, and we hope that their screenwriter, Brooklyn North, has the chops necessary to make the movie work.
One last question, do you think 1984 Private Defense Contractors will try to wrangle a female director as well? If so, assuming Kathryn Bigelow is unavailable (a distinct possibility, given her post-Oscar status), who should they hire? Mimi Leder seems like the obvious choice after directing Deep Impact and The Peacekeeper, but what about Monster director Patty Jenkins, who came this close to directing the Thor sequel before losing the gig in pre-production? What about TV producer Marti Noxon, who directed two episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"
CraveOnline will be back with more female Expendables news after we stop rejoicing. It might take a while.