Expendables 4: Schwarzenegger Must Return (To Complete His Stallone “Feud”)
With The Expendables 4 looking to be the last true entry in the series, Arnold Schwarzenegger must return to settle his feud with Sylvester Stallone.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return in The Expendables 4 could perfectly wrap up his famous feud with Sylvester Stallone. The Expendables 4 is set to release in 2022, eight years after the previous, PG-13 rated sequel, The Expendables 3, which saw the series hit its lowest box office gross and audience ratings despite having the strongest line-up in the Expendables franchise.
The Expendables 4 is returning to its 1980s-inspired glory, bringing back the gore and the unrelenting action once again, fixing many failings of The Expendables 3. While many series regulars are returning, including Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture, there is still no confirmation that Arnold Schwarzenegger will reprise his role as rival mercenary Trench.
The now-famous feud between Schwarzenegger and Stallone began during the 1977 Oscars where the latter was nominated for the Best Actor award for his performance as Rocky Balboa in Rocky. When Stallone lost the Academy Award to Peter Finch, Schwarzenegger allegedly laughed, and Stallone has stated, “From that moment our DNA hated each other.” The feud continued throughout the 1980s with the two competing for box office and roles.
The two would often follow up each other’s successful movies with a new spin on the same sort of story, such as Schwarzenegger’s Commando arriving on the heels of Stallone’s success in Rambo. The most famous incident between them occurred when Schwarzenegger tricked Stallone into taking the lead role in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, which performed terribly at the box office and received negative reviews. After over a decade as bitter rivals, the two reconciled and have since become one of Hollywood’s biggest bromances.
Schwarzenegger and Stallone cemented their new friendship by sharing the screen for the first time in The Expendables, released in 2010. Though they appear as rivals, the banter between Stallone’s Barney Ross and Schwarzenegger’s Trench is playful in nature and meta in context. Trench re-appeared in The Expendables 2 in a much larger role since Schwarzenegger was no longer serving as governor of California. In that first of the Expendables sequels, the two characters work together, often saving each other’s hides, and this continued in the next movie as well.
Throughout the Expendables series, the relationship between Barney Ross and Trench has turned from rivalry to comradery, perfectly mirroring the emotional transition of their actor counterparts. Having the two reunite for one last 1980s-esque romp could once and for all establish the pair as friends and set their feud to rest.
The Expendables 4 could be the last chance the actors have to appear together on screen due to Stallone’s planned departure from the Expendables franchise. While it’s unsure if Barney Ross will die, the character’s future in the franchise seems to be significantly reduced. Jason Statham’s character, Lee Christmas, will take over as the lead character in the main series in addition to his upcoming solo spinoff, The Expendables: A Christmas Story.
This means The Expendables 4 could be Stallone’s last as Barney Ross before the franchise re-focusses, and it seems a shame not to have Schwarzenegger’s Trench there as well, with the sequel acting as a final send-off for both actors. Having Trench even nearby in the event of Barney Ross’s death would add some real heart to the scene, as the two respected each other despite their differences.
While it’s possible Schwarzenegger and Stallone could team up again in a new or separate franchise, much like they did in 2013’s Escape Plan, having their final appearance together in the same franchise that they first appeared in together would be great. This move would also cement an arc for the characters that also exists in real life, beginning the series as rivals, and ending it together, as friends.
Schwarzenegger’s return in The Expendables 4 is a must because it would perfectly end the Stallone/Schwarzenegger feud narrative, and because of Arnold’s role in the action genre, which the Expendables franchise has been paying homage to since 2010.