Sylvester Stallone Reveals Why He Was Never Cast As A Superhero Lead

Sylvester Stallone says he was never cast as a superhero lead like Superman because he doesn't have the face for it.

By Vic Medina | Published

Sylvester Stallone has joined most of the other A-list actors in Hollywood by appearing in a Marvel comic book movie, when he was cast in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017. The Rocky actor followed that up by playing a retired superhero in Samaritan, the Amazon Prime Video film released in August. According to Stallone, however, he was never cast as an iconic superhero like Batman or Captain America, because despite his status as a legendary action star, he is not the superhero type.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stallone discussed his career, that has spanned over five decades and includes some of the biggest movies of all time. He admits never being cast as a superhero lead because “I don’t look like any comic-book character. Like I could have never played The Terminator. No one would make a robot with a crooked mouth and voice that sounds like a pallbearer. It just doesn’t work.”

While the Terminator isn’t technically a comic book superhero, his point is obvious: when a superhero character also embodies an ideal look, like Superman or Captain America, you need someone with a classically handsome look. That’s good news for actors like Henry Cavill and Chris Evans, but bad news for actors like Stallone, who have the physique but not the model-like face.

While Sylvester Stallone didn’t address the rumors directly, that was the exact reason (reportedly) that he wasn’t cast as Superman in Richard Donner’s 1978 film. The story goes that, although a he was part of a wide casting net under consideration to play the Man of Steel, he was considered “too ethnic” for the role. Another rumor says Marlon Brando (who, in the role of Jor-El, had a voice in casting) rejected him, so, either way, Stallone’s loss was Christopher Reeve’s gain.

judge dredd stallone
Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd (1995)

He has had his chance to act in comic book movies, including his role in Judge Dredd in 1995, but like his role in Samaritan, he didn’t need to have that classic superhero look. Like his role as Stakar Ogord (aka Starhawk) in Guardians of the Galaxy, Sylvester Stallone feels he is more suited to playing supporting characters rather than the handsome lead. “Who was the guy Sam Jackson ended up playing? Yeah. I thought I could have done something like that, where I’m not the main guy,” he said.

His “pallbearer” voice worked out well when James Gunn cast him as King Shark in The Suicide Squad sequel/reboot, but playing Peacemaker (at least while in his prime) was likely never a possibility.

Still, the lack of superhero looks didn’t hold Stallone back from becoming an iconic actor. Although producers didn’t want him to star as Rocky (even though he wrote the film for himself), he crushed the role, and the film went on to become an Oscar winner for Best Picture and a classic film.

He got to play comic book-ish characters in films like The Expendables, Demolition Man, and Spy Kids 3: Game Over, but essentially defined the action hero genre with films like the Rambo/First Blood films, Tango and Cash, and Cobra. It’s hard to feel like his career was slighted by being limited in superhero roles, but with audience tastes shifting in recent years, another comic book role, this time as a lead, may not be out of the question, although his age may be an issue.