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Review Steel (1997): Sure it's bad but certainly not the worst. Deserves more credit than it got!

genre: comic book adaptation, superhero, action, adventure, crime

Once upon a time when Chrichton was a little Chrichton he had read The Death of Superman and a couple of crossover titles concerning this tragic event. After Superman is gone, new heroes arose to step in his shoes. Or at least try to take his place to fight crime. One of them was John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel. He didn't have superpowers. But he created a suit of powered armor. His goal was to prevent the gangs from using more lethal versions of the weapons he had invented. I do remember that for a while it did seem like the soul of Superman was inhabiting him. Heroes like John Henry Irons and Batman might seem insane, they honourable through and through. Enter Steel, the live action film. For a long time, it was branded the worst DC title ever made. Some would even go so far to say it's the worst film ever made. And for this reason I had avoided this film also, since I didn't really want to tarnish my precious childhood memories.

However, while Steel certainly is heavily flawed. It does have its heart in the right place. Spirit wise, the story told in the film is true to the comics. Apart from the fact that Superman doesn't get mentioned. It's a pivotal part. But I do see how they didn't go there, since it would have changed up the lighter tone of the film. To me, it's obvious they made this film for children specifically. Hence, the cartoony vibe. Even when the film does get violent at times. I guess the big elephant in the room is Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal. Warner Brothers and the other powers that be had expected Steel to launch his Hollywood career. But why though? I am aware that he was huge as a basketball player. Still, why would they think he could pull off being a lead and potentially even carry a whole franchise? Don't get me wrong. Shaq does have a certain charm. And for what it's worth, he does his best to honour the character he is supposed to be portraying. Unfortunately, he severely lacks the acting chops to do so. You just don't buy him as a superhero, especially with the way he looks.

Having said that, I did find myself enjoying the film. It was light-hearted and fun. I could appreciate the running joke of John being unable to shoot hoops. And the action was creative and exciting enough, as long as you didn't think too hard about logic and probability. The film even sets up a potential romance between John and Sparky. Of course, at the time, Hollywood wasn't ready for interracial relationships. But they probably thought, why not? 

And for that alone, this film does deserve more credit than it got. Judd Hirsh as the main villain, Richard Roundtree as Uncle Joe and Charles Napier do help give Steel some credibility, even when they clearly aren't taking the film seriously. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, since it does add a charm to events overall. Sure, the film falls short of the dramatic tale concerning Superman and the impact after his death. Still, as a standalone film, it could have been far worse. To give you an idea of where it stands compared to other DC films. It's leagues better than Suicide Squad (2016)

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