According to Sylvester Stallone, the villain and plot of the film is based on Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama who had a corrupt relationship with the CIA and drugs.
Steve Austin and Terry Crews previously appeared in the The Longest Yard (2005).
Terry Crews is cast alongside Rocky IV (1985) actors, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa) and Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago). In the sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris" (2005), Crews played Chris' father, Julius, who is a fan of the Rocky (1976) movie franchise.
According to Sylvester Stallone, the Red Beret soldiers are actual Brazilian MMA fighters who volunteered to play the role.
This is the third film that Jason Statham and Jet Li have starred in together. They previously starred in The One (2001) and War (2007).
This is the first film that Sylvester Stallone has directed since Staying Alive (1983) that doesn't involve his characters John Rambo or Rocky Balboa.
Julie Benz, Charisma Carpenter's co-star from "Angel" (1999) suggested that Carpenter try out for the role of Lacey. Sylvester Stallone had a hard time finding the right person prior to casting Carpenter in the role. Her final scene in the Angel episode "You're Welcome" convinced Stallone to cast Carpenter in the movie.
Sylvester Stallone broke his neck while filming the fight scene with Steve Austin.
This film marks Arnold Schwarzenegger's first film in six years. He last appeared in Disney's Around the World in 80 Days (2004).
On October 24th, 2009, Sylvester Stallone was joined on screen for the first time ever, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. The scene, which took six hours to film, sets up the plot of the film.
The initial budget for the film was $60 million but increased to $70-$80 million.
The role of Mr. Church, the man who hires the Expendables, was very difficult to cast. It was initially offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declined in favor of a smaller cameo due to his political career. The role was then offered to Kurt Russell, who declined as he was not interested in "ensemble acting at the moment." Sylvester Stallone spent several months after principal photography determined to find a big action name for the part. The role was finally taken by Stallone's friend and fellow former "Planet Hollywood" co-owner Bruce Willis, who was busy filming Cop Out (2010) at the time.
Producer Avi Lerner decided to cut the film down to two versions, a PG-13-rated version and an R-rated version, both of which will be screen tested to see which one will be officially released. Lerner had considered cutting down the violence because of the success of recent PG-13 action films like Live Free or Die Hard (2007). Lerner has claimed that Stallone's previous film Rambo (2008) could have been even more successful, had it not contained such extreme violence and gore.
Sandra Bullock was rumored to have a role in the film, but revealed that she did not even know about the project. Despite the news, she did express interests in working in its possible sequel, depending on the storyline.
Dolph Lundgren described the film as "an old-school, kick-ass action movie where people are fighting with knives and shooting at each other."
West Coast Customs Street Customs have built 3 customized 1955 Ford F100s for the film. One was built for a crash scene, the second for green-screen, and the third for Stallone to keep.
Steven Seagal was asked to play a cameo but turned it down due to negative connections with producer Avi Lerner.
Originally, Jet Li's character's name was listed as Kong Kao.
Jason Statham starred in Death Race (2008), a remake of Death Race 2000 (1975) which featured a young Sylvester Stallone in one of his first starring roles.
Jeffrey L. Kimball was also director of photography on Stallone's The Specialist (1994), but this is the first time he has worked with Stallone as a director.
Scott Adkins was offered the role of Dan Paine.
Ben Kingsley was considered for the role of Monroe.
Wesley Snipes was offered the role of Hale Ceasar but couldn't accept because, due to his tax problems, he wasn't allowed to leave the United States without the court's approval. The role was taken by Forest Whitaker and rewritten for Whitaker, but he was forced to leave the film due to a scheduling conflict. When it was announced that rapper 50 Cent was replacing Whitaker, many fans were disappointed and, after a few days, Stallone decided to cast former NFL player Terry Crews in the part.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was offered a role, but he turned it down claiming that there was no substance in the character. Rumor has it that Dolph Lundgren replaced him but actually the part of Scandinavian Gunnar Jensen was written by Sylvester Stallone with Lundgren in mind.