While The Expendables 3 continues the torrid affair between Sylvester Stallone and his own self-regard, according to director Patrick Hughes, there’s another, even more tender romance taking place in its shadows. In an interview at Grantland—one that completely spoils the fact that characters in the movie about aging, indestructible action heroes survive, in addition to spoiling the mysteries of amour—Hughes discusses a seemingly throwaway moment in the film’s final scene, where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Trench Mauser and Jet Li’s Yin Yang are seen snuggling at a bar.
“You guys want to get a room?” Stallone’s character says, in an example of the film’s snappy dialogue. “We don’t need a room!” Schwarzenegger retorts while Li laughs, probably just assuming that Schwarzenegger said something clever. The couple then nuzzles even closer, suggesting they’ll soon be getting to the chopper…. of love.
Hughes, who’s asked by Grantland’s Matt Patches whether this means that Schwarzenegger and Li’s characters are actually dating, replies, “I believe they are”—reportedly saying so as though “he just got away with something amazing.” (And given Schwarzenegger’s often-spotty record on supporting gay rights, he kind of did.) Unfortunately, given the lackluster response to The Expendables 3 and the irreversible march of time, it seems unlikely that we’ll see this relationship explored any further in a sequel, in which Schwarzenegger and Li are rousted out of domestic bliss for yet another mission. Nevertheless, knowing this does lend the franchise—about sweaty, shirtless, musclebound men who stare deep into each other’s eyes and bicker cattily in between oiling up their big guns—an unexpected homoerotic edge.