a blogumn by Ryan Dixon

Those lucky enough to count themselves as children of the 80’s know the truth. If it was amongst your possessions, there was perhaps no other toy that earned more esteem from one’s elementary school peers than Voltron: Defender of the Universe (which should not be confused with Queen’s Flash: Savior of the Universe or just the plain old Masters of the Universe). What’s Voltron, you ask? Well, if you don’t know, then you can read all about it here, but let me give you a quick breakdown for the purposes of understanding my analogy in the next paragraph: Voltron was a giant metallic Transformer-like robot that was created by putting together a group of smaller robot lions. Suffice it to say, the sum was far greater than the parts.

My thoughts turned to Voltron recently when looking at the poster for The Expendables. While much has been made about how this collection of talking-head testosterone represents perhaps the biggest all-star ensemble ever assembled (at least until LeBron decided to take his talents to…well, you know the rest), the truth is that most of these actors are either washed up or just up-and-coming talents. The only way such publicity-fueld hyperbole can even begin to approach any semblance of truth is if you put them all together. TaDa!!!–an all-star cast! This act of actorly assembly was really no different from how Voltron was so much cooler when all the robots were put all together.

Knowing that most actors aren’t exactly the most secure beings in the universe, I have no doubt that when Stallone et al were in their trailers–in between scenes of blowing up the next South American bandito— their minds were secretly racing with sweaty, Nixon-like paranoia as to which one of them was the most famous and whose balls were the least shriveled from years of steroid abuse.

With that in mind, I have decided to answer this eternal, pressing question (the famous question, not the ball one) by providing you and them — Are you reading this, Mr. Willis? — with a very unscientific model that will calculate the overall star value of each Expendable.

Here are the categories:

Average Box Office Gross: One point for each million of their lifetime box office average.
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: One point for each percentile of their lifetime average critical rating.
Iconic Performances: Five points for each iconic performance.
Immortal Disasters: Minus two points for each flop.

Oscar Wins or Nominations: Five points for each Oscar nomination. Ten points for an Oscar win.

Marriages: Two points for each marriage.

Arrests: Minus two points for each arrest.
Abused Substances: Minus two points for each instance of substance abuse.
ExtraStaricular Activities: Five points for each minor achievement. Ten points for each major achievement.

After adding up the points, I ranked them in reverse order from the lowest point total to the highest. Pure genius, I know. (But don’t try to copy this as I’ve already filed for a patent.)

Is the point distribution fair and mathematically sound? Do any of the categories have any real statistical value? Is this whole blogumn just an arbitrary exercise because I didn’t have anything better to write this week? The answers (in no particular order):

No. No. Yes.

Now that we have that out of the way, here’s the first and only (until the sequel, at least):



10. Randy Couture
Average Box Office Gross: $2.3 million (1 featured role)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67% (I’m discounting this statistic from Couture’s total Star Power Points since he really only had a small supporting role in Red Belt and shouldn’t directly receive the critical praise strangely heaped upon David Mamet’s overwrought yet boring MMA drama.)
Iconic Performances: None
Immortal Disasters: None
Oscar Wins/Nominations: None
Marriages: Sharon, Tricia, and Kim (Sorry, Wikipedia didn’t have their last names and I’m not getting paid enough to scour the internet for them.)
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None
ExtraStaricular Activities: Three-time former heavyweight champion and a two-time light-heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (considered most popular fighter in MMA history).


BOTTOM LINE: Too early to decide his acting fate. Couture seems to be making a smart choice in having his first big role be in an ensemble, something the next actor on the list should have thought about before agreeing to captain The Condemned. The success of The Expendables could conceivably launch him to the next level.

9. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Average Box Office Gross: $7.3 million (1 featured role)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 15%
Iconic Performances: None
Immortal Disasters: None
Oscar Wins/Nominations: None
Marriages: Kathryn Burrhus; Jeannie Clark; Debra Marshall
Arrests: Domestic Abuse
Abused Substances: Steroids
ExtraStaricular Activities:  Six-time WWE World Champion


BOTTOM LINE: While considered by many to be the most popular wrestler of all time, his Stone Coldness has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to be on the level of his fellow Expendables. If not, he still has a good shot of being the supporting evil that guy in every B-action movie from here on out.

8. Jason Statham
Average Box Office Gross: $24.3 million (19 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 39.3%
Iconic Performances: None (And no, I don’t care what you say, The Transporter does not count.)
Immortal Disasters: None
Oscar Nominations/Wins: None
Marriages: None (Though he gets two bonus Star Points for dating Kelly Brook and ex-Victoria’s Secret Angel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.)
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None (But being that he’s British, one must assume alcoholism.)
ExtraStaricular Activities:  Member of Britain’s National Diving Squad for twelve years; Tommy Hilfiger model


BOTTOM LINE: So far his career has been a lot more smoke than fire. Almost all of Statham’s movies have underwhelmed either financially or critically and at best it could be said that he has a cult following (specifically those males of a certain age encased in b.o.). Aside from Stallone, Statham has the meatiest role in The Expendables so if the film is a success it could bring him closer to the A-list.

7. Dolph Lundgren
Average Box Office Gross: $30.6 million (6 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 20.5%
Iconic Performances: Drago in Rocky IV
Immortal Disasters: The Punisher
Oscar Nominations/Wins: None
Marriages: Anette Qviberg (Two bonus Star Points for dating Grace Jones in the 80’s.)
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None
ExtraStaricular Activities: Has directed and starred in a handful of straight-to-DVD movies; Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering; Awarded Fulbright Scholarship for MIT; appeared in a hugely popular Swatch Commercial in Japan with Danny DeVito


BOTTOM LINE: Lundgren has had a pretty strong showing in the movies he’s appeared in theatrically, surprisingly placing ahead of a much bigger name in Jason Statham. I must admit that my Star Ranking system somewhat breaks down with a career like Lundgren’s since the majority of films he’s starred in are straight-to-DVD dreck. If I would have included these, his critical average would have been knocked down faster than the amount of time it took Ivan Drago to kill Apollo Creed.


6. Terry Crews
Average Box Office Gross: $43.9 million (10 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 31.5%
Iconic Roles: None
Immortal Disasters: None
Oscar Nominations / Wins: None
Marriages: Rebecca Crews
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None
ExtraStaricular Activities:  NFL career; HUGE TV Career; Old Spice’s iconic “Odor Blocker Body Wash” ad campaign


BOTTOM LINE: Crews’ placement ahead of more well known names like Statham is a small surprise. Crews is a very likable presence and his handlers have obviously done a magnificent job at managing his career. All in all, he seems to be on a similar career path as Dwayne Johnson (though with less star wattage), mixing family friendly comedy with serious work and straight-up action.

5. Mickey Rourke
Average Box Office Gross: $22.1 million (29 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56.4%
Iconic Performances: Nine 1/2 Weeks; The Wrestler
Immortal Disasters: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
Oscar Nominations/Wins: Best Actor Nominee for The Wrestler
Marriages: Debra Feuer; Carré Otis
Arrests: Spousal abuse
Abused Substances: Plastic surgery
ExtraStaricular Activities: Amateur Boxer


BOTTOM LINE: Despite all the talk of The Wrestler being his comeback, Rourke has, aside from a stretch in the mid-90’s through early 00’s, managed to continually appear in films that have garnered a fair amount of critical kudos (his aggregated critical average is 7% higher than anyone else). Though it must be also mentioned that very few of these critically esteemed films were financial successes; take out Rourke’s appearance in Iron Man 2 and his average box office gross falls to a practically poverty stricken $11.3 million. Even with such lackluster box office returns, his talent and taste allow him to fit snugly in the middle in this man slaughterer’s row of stars.

4. Jet Li
Average Box Office Gross: $45.7 mil (13 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 46.6%
Iconic Performances: Hero (films with US theatrical distribution only)
Immortal Disasters: None
Oscar Nominations/Wins: None
Marriages: Huang Qiuyan; Nina Li Chi
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None
ExtraStaricular Activities: Martial Arts legend; One of the biggest movie stars of all time in Asia


BOTTOM LINE: Seemingly underrated, Li stands atop the middle of the pack thanks to both a robust box office average and strong critical reaction, due in part to the hosannahs thrown at Zhang Yimou’s Hero.

3. Bruce Willis
Average Box Office Gross: $54.9 million (48 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 46.6%
Iconic Performances: Die Hard; The Sixth Sense
Immortal Disasters: Hudson Hawk; The Bonfire of the Vanities
Oscar Nominations/Wins: None
Marriages: Demi Moore; Emma Heming
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None
ExtraStaricular Activities: Pitchman for Seagram’s Golden Wine Cooler products; sometimes musician


BOTTOM LINE: Willis’ career is perhaps the most fascinating of all The Expendables’ cast for it seems like two careers in one: Hollywood A-lister and classic character actor. This is probably why his role as “John McClane” in the Die Hard franchise has never been the typecasting handicap that his other Expendables co-stars have found their iconic roles to be.

2. Sylvester Stallone
Average Box Office Gross: $49.7 million (27 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40.1%
Iconic Performances: Rocky; Rambo
Immortal Disasters: Oscar; Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
Oscar Nominations/Wins: Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay nominations for Rocky
Marriages: Sasha Czack; Brigitte Nielsen, Jennifer Flavin
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: HGH, Plastic Surgery
ExtraStaricular Activities: Starred in the softcore porn The Party at Kitty and Stud’s; In 2000, received a special “Worst Actor of the Century” Razzie award, citing “95% of Everything He’s Ever Done” rather than an individual movie.


BOTTOM LINE: Unlike Willis who owes his high Star Power Points score to a heady mix of critically appreciated films and wannabe blockbusters, Stallone’s success rests entirely on the muscle-bound shoulders of the Rocky and Rambo films. Take those ten films out of the equation and Stallone’s average box office gross plummets to a very un-A-list like $33.9 million. In comparison, removing Willis’ Die Hard films lowers his his average box office gross to a still robust $50 million.


1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Average Box Office Gross: $70.5 mil (23 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49.3%
Iconic Performances: Conan the Barbarian; The Terminator; Predator; Twins; Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Immortal Disasters: Last Action Hero; Batman & Robin
Oscar Nominations/Wins: None
Marriages: Maria Shriver
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: Steroids
ExtraStaricular Activities: Two-term Governor of California; Kennedy In-Law; Bodybuilding Legend


BOTTOM LINE: The once and future box office king. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger, busy with trying to save California from actually turning into the future world seen in the Terminator movies, is also the actor with the smallest role in The Expendables. What’s perhaps most fascinating about Schwarzenegger’s statistics is that he’s managed to have both the highest box office average (by nearly $20 million!) and the highest critical average, which seems somewhat shocking considering how many critical darlings Willis has appeared in (12 Monkeys and Pulp Fiction are but two examples). Despite his abbreviated role in the film, without Arnold there’s no doubt that The Expendables would not be getting nearly the buzz it’s attracting, unless of course Stallone could have managed to cast a certain actress who happens to be in another film coming out this weekend…


In a perfect feat of timing that will probably save countless relationships from breaking up at movie theater box offices across the country, the most overtly masculine movie of the past ten years is going head to head with a film that has a very good chance of ripping the Chick Flick crown from the curly-cued head of Sarah Jessica Parker and her Menopausal junta: Eat Pray Love.

Just for fun, let’s see how the star power of the Governator stacks up against the practically one woman show that is…

Julia Roberts
Average Box Office Gross: $71.3 million (34 featured roles)
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 55.6%
Iconic Performances: Pretty Woman; Erin Brockovich
Immortal Disasters: I Love Trouble
Oscar Nominations/Wins: One Win (Erin Brockovich); Two Nominations (Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman)
Marriages: Lyle Lovett; Daniel Moder (Two bonus points for providing  tabloid fodder for a decade by having relationships with the likes of Liam Neeson, Dylan McDermott, Kiefer Sutherland, Matthew Perry, and Benjamin Bratt.)
Arrests: None
Abused Substances: None
ExtraStaricular Activities: Named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” eleven times; In 2001 Ladies Home Journal ranked her as the 11th most powerful woman in America, ahead of Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush.


BOTTOM LINE: Even though she has Oscars, multiple marriages and seemingly lacks any self destructive behavior (aside from a past habit of leaving fiancés at the altar) America’s Sweetheart Emeritus still couldn’t quite score enough in total points to beat Arnold. But seriously, could you really expect anyone to conquer the man who, when asked what is best in life, said this:

Okay, well, I hope you enjoyed my totally made up system of judging star value. If anyone has any other ideas with what I could do with my time aside from coming up with lists like these, follow me on Twitter and let me know!

Ryan Dixon is the co-author of the upcoming graphic novel Hell House: The Awakening, published by Viper Comics and available September 8th. Want to ensure that Ryan doesn’t have to sell his body for sex? Pre-Order a copy now!

Special thanks to Box Office Mojo, Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes for all the research help!