- All-Star Cast: Zig Zagged Trope. In casting the film, Stallone decided to go for actors who were past their glory days. No one is A-list material anymore, and some never were. But their names still cast long shadows. Per The Other Wiki:On his approach to casting, Stallone explained that he was looking particularly for actors who had not experienced recent significant success in film, saying: "I like using people that had a moment and then maybe have fallen on some hard times and give them another shot. So were always looking for actors like Michael Biehn and Michael Paré. I like those kinds of guys. Someone did it for me and I like to see if I can do it for them."
- Directed by Cast Member: The film is directed by Stallone himself, though he would later step down from the director's chair for the sequels.
- Doing It for the Art: Arnold Schwarzenegger did his cameo for free.
- Dueling Movies: Was released around the same time as the film versions of the The A-Team, The Losers, and Red, as all four are very similar on the surface. Machete also covers similar ground.
- Dueling-Stars Movie: May just displace Face/Off and Ocean's Eleven.
- Fake Nationality: The "Somali" pirates that don't even look remotely Somali.
- Playing Against Type: Many Dexter fans were surprised to see Angel Batista, one of the most consistently friendly, even-tempered, decent characters from that show, as a military dictator exploiting his island to fuel the drug trade.
- Similarly Named Works: Not to be confused with a 1989 Vietnam War movie, a 2000 made-for-TV movie, or two musical bands (one American and one New Zealand) with the same name.
- Throw It In!:
- Bruce Willis ad-libbed his jab at both Arnold and Sylvester about going down on each other. Stallone was initially disgusted, as revealed in the DVD Commentary, but the line set the scene so well that it was kept.
- The seaplane was supposed to be an unarmed escape vehicle, but in between filming, Stallone noticed one of the crew climbing out from the nose hatch, learned that it was accessed from inside the plane, and was immediately inspired to turn the seaplane into a gunship.
- What Could Have Been:
- Jean-Claude Van Damme declined to be in the film, as he did not like the character Stallone had created for him (rumored to be Gunnar, who would have gone to Lundgren only after Van Damme rejected it). However, he regretted his decision after watching the film and went to tell them he would join a sequel if they ever made it. As promised, he appeared as the bad guy of Expendables 2, a role more akin to what he had wanted to do in the first.
- Steven Seagal was offered a cameo in the film, but he turned it down, apparently due to problems with producer Avi Lerner.
- UFC fighters Anderson Silva and Wallid Ismail were there with the Nogueira brothers when Stallone recruited the latter two to appear as soldiers. Silva was rumoredly going to make a cameo as well, but it did not happen.
- Terry Crews' role was written with Wesley Snipes in mind, but Snipes was unavailable due to his legal troubles. The role was almost filled by Forest Whitaker, but again, the latter had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, allowing Crews to enter. Snipes would finally be able to appear in the third film.
- Robert De Niro, Ben Kingsley, Ray Liotta and Al Pacino were considered for James Munroe.
- Kurt Russell and 50 Cent were offered parts but declined, and there are rumors that Chuck Norris and Bruce Campbell were approached as well (the former ended up appearing in the sequel).
- This could have been Brittany Murphy's final film. However Stallone cut her character from the script before anything was filmed.
- At least four characters of the original script were cut out from the shooting draft:
- Richard. Robert Knepper and Alan Tudyk were both approached for the role. Timing didn't work out for Knepper, while Tudyk was in between projects and didn't want to exhaust himself. The role was cut entirely while the movie was already being filmed.
- Agent Lickson. The role was put into Sandra, who we will find out is working for INTERPOL when she starts her relationship with Ross, and has been helping the revolutionaries against Garza get guns and medical attention.
- Agent Will Sands. The role was intended to be very large in the first draft, was later cut down after the casting of Eric Roberts. Stallone was courting Denis Leary to appear, but his contract with Rescue Me got in the way. Stallone also tried getting John Lurie, but he declined the role as well, so it was written out entirely.
- Emmanuel. The role was going to be played by Danny Trejo but it was scrapped due to time and budget constraints. Trejo's fee, as well as the costs for some of the stunt work in that scene, would've put them over, so his role was combined with that of Tool as story purpose and Wickham in terms of finding Sandra's hideaway.
- Written-In Infirmity: Randy Couture's ear deformity is now Expendables canon.
Trivia / The Expendables