The internet is shallow and fickle. As soon as Harry at AICN reported that (a) Forest Whitaker had to remove himself from a role in The Expendables (due to production start delays) and (b) he would be replaced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, the project’s stock rating threatened to tumble from Orgasmic Buy to What the Fuck?

Listen, I was happy that Whitaker was on board. Really happy. Yes, Whitaker is a loss. No, 50 Cent has never done a thing worth watching on screen.

But I wonder if some of the disappointed folks realize what kind of movie this is going to be. This is big guys bashing each other for ninety minutes; Whitaker would have been a hell of a lot of fun in that context, but the show goes on. Stallone claimss “there’s enough testosterone and ego in this film to float a large continent covered in elephants,” and as long as that remains the case, The Expendables might still be the movie you are hoping for.

Unsurprisingly, Stallone’s email response to the (very mild) uproar is measured. “The anger of the casting of 50 Cent is understandable, but not fair. A player is only as good as his coach. If a man can communicate in one medium, he can communicate in another if his strengths are brought out and he has the support of well-wishers.”

EDIT: A very good source tells me that it wasn’t the schedule delay that caused Whitaker to bail, but script changes. I have two drafts in hand now (2/20 and 3/13) and while page revisions have been issued to update the current draft, I’ll go through both when I get a minute to see what the differences are. Update forthcoming if there’s anything worth reporting.

Sly also clarified the casting, which is as follows:

Stallone is Barney ‘the schizo’ Ross
Jason Statham is Lee Christmas
Jet Li is Bao
Curtis Jackson is Hale Caesar
Eric Roberts is Monroe
Mickey Rourke is Tool (an ex-Expendable)
Randy Couture is Toll Road (new character)
Charisma Carpenter is Lacy
Giselle Itie is Sandra