Shaquille O’Neal, the legendary basketball player known for his imposing persona, has dabbled in the film and television industries. O’Neal portrayed the title character in the superhero film Steel, released in 1997.
Steel was not a smashing success when it was released, but O’Neal is looking back on the film with a desire to remake it for a new audience. In an exclusive interview, O’Neal spoke openly about his hopes for redemption and his reaction to the film.
DC’s Vision Behind Shaquille O’Neal’s Steel
Steel was the first film to feature John Henry Irons, better known by his nickname, Steel. After the villainous Doomsday killed Superman, the character first appeared in DC Comics in 1993 to fill the vacuum left by the Man of Steel’s death.
The rebirth of Superman, however, changed Steel into a useful ally for the Man of Steel. O’Neal embodied the essence of John Henry Irons with his unique charisma and physical presence in the 1997 film adaptation.
The film only made $1.6 million at the box office and had a dismal 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it received a respectable “B” grade from CinemaScore audiences. Shaquille O’Neal reflected on his time working on Steel and said he would love to see the character again using today’s filmmaking techniques.
The former professional basketball player admitted in the interview that early 1990s special effects weren’t as impressive as the ones seen in modern superhero films. O’Neal admires the stunning visual effects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Iron Man films and wishes he could use those same techniques to bring the character of Steel back to life.
“Well, if you look at the Steel character, it’s me. It’s all me, John Henry Irons is me. You know, when we did the movie, I would have liked to have those Iron Man effects, but nah, we did the movie in the early ’90s, and technology wasn’t as it is now, but I would love to be able to do a redo of that.”
Shaquille O’Neal clearly identifies with John Henry Irons, as evidenced by his comparisons of the two. He feels the role is meaningful because the character reflects himself. O’Neal emphasizes the multifaceted nature of superhero storytelling and the potential for multiple interpretations of iconic characters by referencing the various iterations of Superman following his resurrection in the comics.
Shaquille O’Neal’s Personal Connection to the Character
O’Neal’s dedication to accurately portraying Steel and his passion for bringing the character to the big screen are evident in his deep familiarity with the comic book source material. Man of Steel launched the DC Extended Universe in 2013, but Steel has yet to find a home there.
Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Shazam! are just a few smash hits that have joined the DC Extended Universe. The DCEU will soon release The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Blue Beetle, all of which are eagerly anticipated.
It’s not out of the question that Steel will successfully return to the DCU if these movies do well enough to fulfill Shaquille O’Neal’s wish. Steel’s place in the DCU has yet to be determined, but O’Neal’s dedication and enthusiasm for the character suggest that there may be unrealized potential.
The time may have come for Shaquille O’Neal to don the Steel armor again and soar to new heights in the movies as fans eagerly await the next chapter of the superhero genre.