Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made an appearance Thursday evening at Comic-Con’s Expendables 2 panel next to co-stars Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture.
Stallone introduced the men – and men is an understatement here – between clips of the action stars’ long careers of tough-guy vengeance and bullet-littered carnage. Even the logo for the movie lies atop a bed of guns with daggers shooting out of them.
The stars to his right were themselves an homage to an era.
While the films have seen some criticism for their ostentatious brutality, lack of real plot and corny catch-phrases from hits past, the men are all the product of a generation. They embraced their legacy on Thursday, and in what looks to be a sequel that continues decades of momentum.
Most surprising about the casts’ appearance on the panel was their utter admiration for one another. The crowd of mostly men squirmed in their seats and guffawed uncomfortably as Schwarzenegger stroked Crews’ muscles and asked him what his body fat percentage was.
“I can die now! Arnold likes my muscles!”
Stallone and Schwarzenegger especially hit it off, beyond the jocular nice-isms between the quieter actors in the room. They gushed at one another’s aging but fit-as-ever bodies and bonded after a shared love of art.
“We’ve killed thousands of guys, but we’re really just painters,” Stallone said.
“We are really sensitive,” Schwarzenegger added.
Schwarzenegger was diplomatic and generous with his compliments, both of his co-stars and fans. However, eight years of California politics didn’t dull his innate sense of macho, despite the concerns of his peers. In fact, he said, sometimes he missed the action movie privileges while in office.
“Well, we know you've been out of the business for eight years. Let me show you how to load a gun again and, Arnold, here's how you throw a punch,” he said. “You wish you could do some of those things when you're in power.”
The movie comes out August 17. No one’s promising it’s going to have a great plot or terrific character development. But let’s face it – you never watched Rocky for its great plot either.