The big picture

  • The history of superhero adaptations shows that successful films effectively transfer the spirit of comic book characters to the screen.
  • steela 1997 film, was a huge box office hit and was considered a failure in the comic book film genre.
  • The film deviated from the source material by removing references to Superman, which limited the story and disappointed fans.

The history of superhero adaptation is full of genre-defining heroics. The Avengers And Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 helped cement the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a pop culture sensation. Logan caused a swan song Hugh Jackman‘s tenure as Wolverine (or at least until Deadpool 3 finally comes out). Aquaman became a financial success and proved that a DC character not named Batman or Superman could appeal to a mass audience (as well as the fact that Aquaman is much, much more than a guy who can talk to fish). These films were successful not only because of the directors’ casting choices and different visions, but also because the filmmakers managed to effectively transfer the spirit of their comic characters to the screen.

Consequently, there are comic adaptations that serve as a roadmap for this not what to do when bringing beloved characters to the screen. While articles have been dedicated to the biggest missteps of Fan4stic or Joel Schumacher‘S Batman When it comes to films, there is one film that is often overlooked: steel. The 1997 film took one of DC Comics’ most underrated heroes and attempted to bring him into the modern age, with disastrous results. steel not only turned out to be a huge box office bomb, but was also considered “the death of the comic film”. Batman and Robin until like movies Sam Raimi‘S Spider-Man were released.

How is steel related to Superman?

Image via DC Comics

Steel, also known as John Henry Irons, first appeared in The Adventures of Superman #500 from Louise Simonson And Jon Bogdanove. He was a top engineer at AmerTek, a company that specialized in developing advanced weapons. When one of Irons’ weapons fell into the wrong hands, he left AmerTek and settled in Metropolis. He began doing construction work and was saved from a fatal accident by Superman, who urged him to “live a life worth saving.” Irons, meanwhile, would get his chance The Death of Superman; When the Man of Steel was killed at the hands of Doomsday, Irons donned power armor to keep the peace in Metropolis – complete with a giant warhammer.

Superman eventually came back to life and Irons moved to Washington, D.C. There he encountered a number of threats, including AmerTek, who wanted to use his powered armor for his own sinister purposes. Irons eventually became a fixture in the DC Universe proper, acting as Superman’s ally/tech advisor and even joining the Justice League. Recently, he and his niece Natasha – who briefly took on the role of Steel herself – founded the Steelworks company to support Metropolis whenever it faces a superhuman attack. Such a character was ripe with potential, but still a writer/director Kenneth Johnson chose to ignore that potential for an approach that felt less like a major blockbuster film and more like a made-for-TV movie.

Shaquille O’Neal is doing himself a disservice

Image via Warner Bros.

A common criticism steel is his leadership, Shaquille O’Neal. Although O’Neal was very charismatic during interviews on the basketball court or the various commercials he did (and still does), he lacked his on-screen presence. Take this car chase. Due to O’Neal’s lackluster performance and slow pacing, this feels less like an adrenaline-fueled car chase and more like a walk in the park. It was also about O’Neal’s participation in the 1996 Summer Olympics; This meant that Johnson only had five weeks in total to film with his leading man. Despite the presence of other great actors including Irma Hall And Richard Roundtree, steel I never really knew what to make of his cast. Ironically, Johnson had thought about it Wesley Snipes as a potential choice for Irons, according to Vice, before O’Neal took the role; a year later, Snipes played the lead role blade and help rehabilitate the comic book film.

How does “steel” differ from its source material?

Image via Warner Bros.

Another thing that was limping steel was the deviation from the source material. While the core of the film – Irons became a hero because his inventions were used in the war – was still intact, Johnson decided to remove the references to Superman. “I said if I could lose the comic cape, maybe I could make it work,” he said during production. Johnson also decided to create a new villain in Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson), rather than using any villains from the comic. While the informed approach would have worked steel, losing his connection to one of DC’s most iconic heroes, severely limiting the film’s story. What was even more amazing was that O’Neal was an avid Superman fan – he even has a Superman symbol tattoo, which can be seen in the scene where he forges his Steel suit.

Steel has his chance to shine in other adaptations

Image via Warner Bros.

Although his big screen debut was a massive disappointment, Steel has had the chance to shine in other adaptations. Superman: The Animated Series contained an entire episode dedicated to the armored hero, played by Michael Dornwhen he fought against Metallo (Malcolm McDowell). Steel would also appear in Justice League Unlimitedforming a close bond with Supergirl. Superman and Lois initially had Irons as an antagonist, as he came from an alternate universe where Superman had become evil; He soon became an ally of the Man of Steel. Finally, Reign of Superman came pretty close to the comic adaptation and was introduced Cress Williams – himself a DC veteran thanks to his starring role in Black Lightning – as the voice of Irons.

Over the years, Johnson has expressed some regret about it steel, especially when it comes to casting. “Maybe I should have just walked away when I couldn’t get the cast I wanted. If I made a mistake, that was the only mistake I made in putting it together,” he said in a Vice report mentioned above marking the film’s 20th anniversary. steel clearly Could have used a little more time in the forge.

Watch “Steel”.

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