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The Star-Studded Action Movie That's Been Killing It On Hulu

In 2012, Marvel combined decades worth of recognizable properties into a single, multimillion-dollar onscreen action figure battle royale. What they may not have realized at the time was that Millennium Media and Lionsgate had beaten them to the punch by two whole years.

The Expendables was the culmination of the action movie genre of the 1980s and '90s, a boys' night for the stars of beat-em-ups, shoot-em-ups, and blow-em-ups spanning a half-dozen or so presidential administrations. The plot was secondary to the film's advertising campaign when compared to the list of featured actors: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, and Mickey Rourke, all together under one cinematic roof, in a film that presumably had an entire line producer dedicated exclusively to managing the budget for protein shakes. Directed and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also starred, the movie machine gunned its way through its theatrical release, earning more than three times its estimated $80 million budget at the box office.

Now, ten years after its debut, The Expendables is making waves again thanks to its recent debut on Hulu, bringing the joys of AARP-eligible bodybuilders to a whole new generation.

The Expendables: heavyweights, hand grenades, and hats

The Expendables, for the unfamiliar, tells the story of the eponymous Expendables, a team of mercenaries from around the world, tasked with taking down a corrupt general in the Gulf of Mexico. Double-crosses ensue, explosions occur, and everyone involved gets a chance to flaunt their particular brand of badassery. There are even a few surprise cameos along the way.

The film's success launched a media franchise despite decidedly middling reviews. Film critic Richard Roeper suggested alternate titles: "The Predictables, the Forgettables and they kinda look like the Anabolic Steroidables." Two sequels, also currently available on Hulu, were released over the next four years. As the list of movies in the series grew longer, so did the list of back-in-the-day action stars featured in the central team-up. The Expendables 2 added Jean-Claude Van Damme and (deep sigh) Chuck Norris to the fray.

By The Expendables 3, the cast list had more entries than most of its stars' IMDb profiles. Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes made appearances. Harrison Ford showed up for a while, strutting his characteristic post-'80s enthusiasm. Acclaimed star of the hyper-violent action franchise Frasier Kelsey Grammar was even there, earning a Golden Raspberry for Worst Supporting Actor for his trouble. These movies had everything.

It's been six years since the last entry in the Expendables franchise, and while everyone involved has made noises about a fourth film (most recently Millennium Media president Jeffrey Greenstein in a 2020 Variety interview) a release date has yet to cement itself. While you're waiting, get in on the fun on Hulu and plan yourself a little marathon. Just take your blood pressure medication beforehand.