"The Expendables" is a lot of things: A hard-charging action flick, a surprise box office blockbuster, a showcase ensemble for some of the biggest (and oldest) stars of the 1980s. It is not, however, literature. Sure, it's dumb fun watching Sylvester Stallone and his muscled buddies blow up stuff while dropping random, clunky non sequiturs, but "The Expendables" isn't exactly Shakespeare or anything, right?
Still, there's at least one person out there who wants the world to know he could have written something as good as "The Expendables" -- and now Reuters is reporting that screenwriter Marcus Webb is suing Stallone for copyright infringement to prove it.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but can it stand up to an AR-15 with a grenade launcher attachment?
Here's the story: According to Webb, back in 2006 he began shopping around a screenplay called "The Cordoba Caper," which in his words is "strikingly similar and in some places identical" to "The Expendables." Specifically, like "The Expendables," the story begins with a rescue at sea to introduce the characters before moving on to a plot about a group of highly trained mercenaries hired to defeat one General Garza, a small-time dictator who is notorious for human rights violations on his tiny Latin island nation.
If that sounds, you know, exactly like "The Expendables," that's because it is, right down to the name of the bad guy. And Webb says he can prove it, because he filed a copy of his screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office way back in the day.
So what does the lawsuit mean for film fans? Well, in a worst cast scenario (or best case, depending on how cynical you are), filming on "The Expendables 2" could be delayed if the case heads to trial. Still, it's unlikely things will reach that point; cases like this have historically been quite hard to prove -- and if the folks at Lionsgate decide Webb does have a reasonable shot, they're more likely to settle out of court.
Look like the critics who said literally anybody could have written something like "The Expendables" may have actually been right.