‘Batgirl’: Sylvester Stallone Was Almost Cast as the Film’s Villain

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) faced an uphill battle when it launched in the mid-2010s. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe still rakes in billions, the DCEU has consistently struggled to gain momentum. Most recently, the cancellation of the upcoming Batgirl movie feels like a blow. Wildly, the film nearly starred action superstar Sylvester Stallone as a key villain. 

Leslie Grace was set to star in the upcoming ‘Batgirl’ movie

Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life), Batgirl was set for a 2023 release on HBO Max before its cancellation. In the Heights breakout Leslie Grace was cast as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in the film, which would have seen J.K. Simmons and Michael Keaton reprise their roles as Commissioner James Gordon and Bruce Wayne/Batman.

However, another element of the movie that fans were excited to see was its villain. Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) was onboard to star as Ted Carson/Firefly. That DC Comics villain — who had never appeared in a movie before — has a penchant for setting things ablaze. And his story would have reportedly tied into Barbara Gordon’s past significantly.

Batgirl, Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone on the set of ‘Tusla King’ on May 18, 2022, in New York City | James Devaney/GC Images

Before Fraser’s casting and eventual reveal that he would play Firefly, rumors circulated the actor could have been in contention for another part, Carmine Falcone. The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit explained that Stallone was originally in line for the role, but “things just didn’t work out.” However, whether that boiled down to negotiations or a scheduling conflict is unclear.

What also isn’t entirely clear is whether Stallone would have played Firefly or if another version of the script included Carmine Falcone. These reports might’ve mixed up details of The Batman, which was also in the works at the time. In that movie, John Turturro plays Falcone, whose storyline ties back to Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman.

Sylvester Stallone already appeared in another DC movie

Although Sylvester Stallone ultimately didn’t sign on for Batgirl, he joined the DCEU in 2021. The actor — best known for the Rocky franchise — provided the voice of King Shark in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Perhaps the casting had something to do with Stallone’s decision to pass on Batgirl when that project was in development.

In any case, it all worked out for Stallone. The actor won over fans with his voice work as King Shark. And Batgirl ended up getting canned. Though it remains to be seen whether Stallone’s King Shark will return to the DCEU, the actor plays a retired superhero in Samaritan, set to debut on Amazon Prime Video on August 26.

RELATED: ‘Batgirl’ Actor Leslie Grace Advocates for Crossover With Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn