Stallone and Schwarzenegger, two stars who don't even need first names, took the stage in Hall H today to present some exclusive footage for "The Expendables 2," or what Stallone referred to as "male pattern badness." Their costars and fellow action heroes Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture also joined them onstage during the panel, making the giant convention hall a veritable soup of testosterone.
The panel kicked off with a trailer for "The Expendables 2," followed by a colorful Stallone retrospective. All the boys took the stage -- well, everyone except for Arnie. Before the former Governator took the stage, we were treated to an equally awesome Schwarzenegger retrospective. Finally, the Terminator took the stage and grumbled in the mike, "I'm back!" to wild cheering and mad Tweeting.
One of the most interesting things about the panel was Stallone's frank talk about aging action stars. Along with most of his costars, this is a guy who went from having a huge career with roles in seminal films like "Rocky" and "First Blood" to more forgettable flicks like "Tango and Cash" and "Judge Dredd." Eventually, though, his star began to dim. Hollywood didn't really understand what to do with action stars once they were deemed too old and Stallone recognized that. He knew he wanted to make "The Expendables" a successful franchise about those aging stars, but he couldn't and wouldn't do it alone. Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and other class action acts had to be involved in order to make his vision work.
Watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger chat about how they met, their careers and why it was so important that they finally worked together was one for the books. The two met at the Golden Globes years ago when Stallone was picking up a few statues for "Rocky," and ever since then, both have been in hot competition to be the biggest and the baddest. "Sly's killed 288 people, I've killed 289," Arnold told the crowd, albeit in the most loving way.
When talking about the younger cast members like Crews, Couture and Liam Hemsworth (who was not present), Schwarzenegger and Stallone were full of praise. Stallone's biggest excitement about bringing all of these boys together is their diverse talents in their respective fields of fighting style. In the most bromantic moment of the panel, Arnold gushed over his love for Crews' muscles. When a fan in the crowd asked the boys who'd win in a fit, Stallone was quick to answer "Randy Couture," before going into detail about Couture's fighting prowess and how realistic his scenes are.
Before the panel was over, Stallone showed us what looks like to be part of the big action scene in the film. It's at an airport and our Expendables are blowing away bodies left and right as Barney Ross (Stallone) takes off after villainous Jean Vilain (Van Damme) for what appears to be their much-anticipated fight scene. Stallone wanted a challenge, a villain who could threaten all the heroes in his movie, and he got him.
"I think we pulled off something pretty remarkable," Sly had commented earlier. Chances are good that action fans will think so, too.