The Expendables wasted Wesley Snipes’ big comeback, but a future sequel could redeem this mistake. The Expendables was custom-built as a way to unite some of the biggest action movie stars in one film. 2014’s third entry had a particularly stacked cast, as alongside returning players like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li, it brought along Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson and Snipes. Unfortunately, the third film was a big disappointment, suffering from a prohibitive PG-13 rating and giving most of the cast little to do.


A recurring issue with The Expendables movies is that they seek to recreate the biggest hits of its leading players, but without adding anything fresh of their own. The films have yet to produce an iconic character, action sequence or one-liner on par with the best of Arnie, Sly or Willis. Even when they nab names like Ford or Van Damme, there was a sense the movies don’t really know what to do with them. This was especially true of Snipes, who was returning to the big screen after years away and was primed for a big comeback.

Related: Every Actor Who Left The Expendables Franchise (& Why)

The Expendables 3 Wasted Wesley Snipes’ Big Comeback

wesley snipes doc character poster expendables 3

Snipes had previously been approached about playing Hale Caesar in the first Expendables, but this became an impossibility after he was sentenced to three years in prison over tax evasion charges in 2008. After finishing his sentence, he was approached once again for Expendables 3 – which almost cast Jack Nicholson – where he played the role of Doctor Death, a founding member of the titular group alongside Stallone’s Barney. In a meta touch, the sequel even opens with Doc being broken out of a prison train before rejoining them for the rest of the story.

Snipes is a major focus of Expendables 3’s first act, but once the main story kicks in, he is essentially pushed to one side. By the time the final battle arrives, Snipe may as well be a background extra, with Doc and most of the original cast being overlooked in favor of the “young Expendables,” played by then up-and-comers like Ronda Rousey and Glen Powell. Snipes’ natural charisma and action ability made Doc a fun addition to the group, but what should have been a comeback vehicle for the star instead feels like a wasted opportunity.

The Expendables 5 Can Make Doc A Key Character

wesley snipes as doctor death in the expendables 3

The upcoming Expendables 4 is billed as a passing of the torch, with Stallone stepping back while Statham’s Christmas becomes the new leader. If Stallone really is exiting the series as reports suggest, then Snipes could easily make a return as Doc for The Expendables 5. He is, after all, a founding member of the group and could take Barney’s place as the grizzled leader. Not only would this be a bump in screentime, but it could also give Snipes time to establish a character and show off his real-life martial arts skills in a major way. If nothing else, Expendables devotees are unlikely to protest against more Wesley Snipes.

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