This May, Dynamite Entertainment is taking a look at the beginnings of one of this year’s most anticipated action movies with the help of writer Chuck Dixon with “The Expendables,” a miniseries that explores a period of time before the movie of the same name takes place. Written by Sylvester Stallone and David Callaham and directed by Stallone, the film is loosely based on the many action films from the late ’80s and early ’90s and stars a number of the biggest action movie stars from that time period, including Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke and Stallone himself. But while the movie is set for a late August 2010 release, fans won’t have to wait that long to see some of their favorite movie heroes of old in action.
“This is a movie that Sylvester Stallone has been trying to get together for years; an action movie packed with as many well-known action stars as possible,” said Dixon. “Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Jet Li and like a dozen more. Bruce Willis and Arnold even show up. The premise is a bunch of hard-luck mercenaries who take on high risk jobs for premium pay. They go in where others fear to tread. Each has a specialty; handguns, martial arts, explosives, knives…Sly’s not re-inventing the wheel here. He’s just built a really bad-ass, killer wheel of awesomeness.”
Spinning this wheel to start is Dixon himself. For the writer, helming the four-color prequel is “Another chance to strut my stuff, and hopefully to a brand new audience that’s never given me a try.” With a plenty of action story credits, Dixon feels that this project definitely fits his writing style. “I’m known as an action writer. I think it’s a bit of typecasting, as I also do humor and can write the soap opera stuff,” he told CBR News. “But I do handle the action easily and I’m willing to do the homework on weapons and fighting techniques. My vast experience at running away from danger comes into play, too.” As for characters, Dixon feels he knows the stars of the story already. “These guys are definitely in the Frank Castle vein as far as being remorseless tough guys,” he said. “It’s barely a stretch for me.”
The comic, while drawing upon the elements from the film, will also have a few surprises in store for those looking forward to the movie. “Well, the one thing you’ll see in the comic that’s not in the movie is Mickey Rourke’s character, Tool, in action,” Dixon said. “He’s alone against some really evil hombres, and we see the reason that Stallone’s character turns to him as a mentor. He’s a serious bad-ass.”
Joining Dixon on the project is artist Esteve Poll. Dixon told CBR News that he has great faith in his collaborator’s artistic abilities, especially as relates to the specialized cast, location and audience of “The Expendables.” “My artist is Esteve Poll and he’s one of my favorites,” Dixon said. “We’ve worked together quite a bit the last couple of years, and he really knows how to create evocative locales. There’re few artists who can equal him when it comes to weaponry.”
Dixon’s comic book prequel is faithful to the movie, as Dixon has had access to the full story ahead of time to craft his own. “I have read the script,” he said. “My job is to tell a story that takes place before the events of the movie without revealing anything that’s to come in the movie’s story. I sort of hint at some of the conflicts in the group, but this is more of a straight adventure story rather than any kind of character-driven stuff that the movie deals with. That stuff needs to be a surprise, and I’m not interested in providing any spoilers.”
“There’s lots of hints in the movie that these guys have been through some really tough, horrifying times together,” he added. “It’s just cool to see one of their earlier missions.”
While Dixon’s previous experience writing team-oriented action titles definitely added to his landing the writing gig on this book, there were still a few aspects that gave him a little bit of trouble. “It’s a challenge. It was easier when I did “A-Team” or “G.I. Joe” prequels, because I was familiar with the characters. Here, it’s tougher,” he said. “I haven’t seen the movie, and working out the individual voices for the characters takes more work. But Stallone’s screenplay is so tailor-made for each actor that I could ‘hear’ their voices as I read the screenplay. I mean, Mickey Rourke says stuff that is so Mickey Rourke. Being an actor, Sly has a real ear for how people talk.” Another challenge for the writer was exploring territory that has, untils now, been completely uncharted and unknown. “How do you write the part before ‘Once upon a time…?’ And I have to echo the screenplay in some places, but do it without borrowing from the movie’s story. Kind of like making a new garment from the material of another.”
But sewmaster Chuck Dixon obviously has more than a few tricks up his sleeve to make his prequel look like an Oscar red carpet-worthy garment, and moreover, he’s excited to do so. “Being part of this crazy project is the most rewarding thing,” Dixon exclaimed. “I’m a fan of these kind of movies and a fan of this cast. It’s neat, even in a small way, to be a part of an instant classic.”
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