Comic Con: The Expendables Panel

Having spent formative years watching films starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and more, there's something a bit awe-inspiring about looking up at a table packed with all those guys. I'm not talking about anything like hero worship. But when you can stare straight at a bunch of performers who have managed to carve out and maintain a very specific type of career, it's an impressive thing.

Stallone assembled this crew for The Expendables, and they hit the San Diego Comic Con en masse to promote the film. No shocking news came out of their panel, and the footage was very much in line with what we've seen from the film. But the conversation was fun for action movie lovers. And hell, watching an entire audience grow chest hair simply by virtue of proximity to this collection of men is quite a thing to behold.

Terry Crews kicked things off in the proper fashion by striding powerfully onto the stage, leaping half up on the table and tearing his shirt open to flex his pecs. Stallone talked about the fact that so many injuries happened on the film that the cast knew all the doctors in the local hospital. Stallone and Steve Austin resurrected the story about Austin breaking Stallone's neck during a scene, and a lot (too much, possibly?) was made of the intimidation factor of Randy Coture's forearms.

Terry Crews may have scored the best line of the day while explaining his most frightening moment on set. When the time came for him to be in the middle of a bunch of explosions, Crews said one of the stunt crew patiently reminded him "there's no such thing as movie fire. It's all real fire." Yeah right, says Crews, before nearly being burned alive.

Most of the conversation was based around anecdotes, and AICN's Harry Knowles kept things moving by asking a lot of questions of the cast. The best answer was from Stallone, after Harry asked if there was ever a personal or emotional reaction to getting hit by another actor in a scene.

On Death Race 2000, Sly said David Carradine was overly aggressive. Every day, "he had to smash me in the face." That probably didn't end too well. Stallone elaborated on general reactions: "If you like the guy, you just shake it off. But if you don't the like the guy...well, you can't wait for the second take to take your turn. Demolition Man was a lot like that." Guess that's why Wesley Snipes wasn't asked to join the Expendables cast. Too bad. He could use the money.

Asked about a preference between acting and directing, Stallone really lit up when talking about directing. Some of that, he admitted, is based in being a control freak. But the look on his face was noticeably different than when Stallone was talking about anything else. He's talked about retiring from acting, and seeing him infused with energy while talking about directing, I can understand why.

Maybe that's why he's eager for people to see what he calls a "raw, unvarnished" behind the scenes doc about the making of this film. It'll focus at least in part on how one acts in and directs an action movie. Narcissism? Maybe, but it could also be at least a fun look at the process that goes into this sort of project.

(He also joked about ending his franchises, but with respect to The Expendables it was "then I got greedy again, and here I am!")

If there was a disappointment, it was that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't turn up. I hadn't expected that, but last night there was a pretty rampant rumor that Schwarzenegger would make a quick appearance. Bruce Willis walked on stage at one point, and things seemed to lean towards a Governator drop-in. That didn't happen, and so the roof wasn't quite blown off Hall H.