As someone who digs sports and giant robots, I hope I’m not the only person who is a fan of Real Steel. The 2011 Hugh Jackman film about robot boxing is one of those predictable but fun Hollywood films designed to give you goosebumps. And it really would have done that, had a certain moment not been deleted.
This week in Los Angeles, Collider held a screening of the film followed by a discussion with director Shawn Levy. (He of Uncharted and Stranger Things fame.) During the talk, Levy admitted there was originally a moment in the film when Atom, the main robot in the film, revealed he was sentient.
There was a whole moment — I think it’s OK to say all this now that it’s been five years — but there’s a moment where, before the fifth round of the final fight, they’re like, “We’re throwin’ in the towel, it’s over,” and Max and Charlie are arguing, and we see Atom in the background raise his finger and give like a “one more time” gesture. In script, you’re like, “That’s fucking awesome! That’s gonna be goosebumps! It confirms the sentient nature of Atom.” But when we put the movie together, it felt like, as warm-hearted as the movie was, that was one degree too fairy tale for that movie.
I’m of the mind that Levy’s instincts were right. The movie is never about the robot. It’s about the father and son connecting through the robot and adding even a hint that the robot is, itself, aware, would change that. The fact they toyed with him being aware is a nice piece of trivia, though. I’m very curious how that would have played out later.
Now, if you’re still with me, you’re probably a fan of this film. (Hi, two other people!) Anyway, at the screening Levy also talked about the sequel, which has long been rumoured. Basically, when the first reactions to the film came in, they began to develop the sequel. In the years since, though, no one has been able to come up with an idea that was worthy of making. Here’s Levy:
The simple truth, the most concise truth I can express, is that it proved, and it has proven, really hard to come up with a sequel that doesn’t feel like a re-hash of the first movie. Yeah, people wanted to see Atom beat Zeus, I would love to see Atom beat Zeus, but you don’t want to retell the story of kind of an alienation between Charlie and Max because that is really the plot of the first movie.
The director also added that, rewatching the film, he feels that’s probably for the best.
I have to tell you, I had a weird experience watching it tonight because on one hand it felt really good to revisit an old friend, but it also weirdly cemented my conviction that I just shouldn’t make a sequel unless I’m sure it will be better.
You can read more from the director at the below link.
And, by the way — Real Steel is a fun, underrated sci-fi sports movie. Check it out.