Anthony Mackie Shares His Pitch For Real Steel 2

Every so often, a prompt goes around Film Twitter regarding favorite underrated movies and of the many deserving choices, 2011's "Real Steel" routinely gets its fair share of mentions. Rightfully so! But then after a little while, those prompts disappear and nobody talks about the movie again ... until the next prompt, that is, at which point "Real Steel" gets some attention again before once more vanishing into the ether. For those of us who've chosen to die on the hill of defending a silly robot-fighting movie with a surprising amount of heart, it can be slightly maddening. Thoughts and prayers, please.

Well, here's my chance to break this insidious little cycle and take advantage of an opportune quote to sing the praises of "Real Steel," which in a perfect world would've received a sequel long before now. Apparently I'm not alone in thinking that, as actor Anthony Mackie chimed in with his own ideas for where a hypothetical "Real Steel 2" could've taken things. If you won't listen to me, at least listen to Captain America.

What Could Have Been

Chappie might get all the meme attention in terms of quirky robotic humanoids, but before him there was ... Atom. Directed by Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum," "Stranger Things," "Free Guy") and starring Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly, "Real Steel" centered on a deadbeat dad's hesitant efforts to reconnect with his son through — what else? — the magic of robot fighting rings in the near-future. It's just like "Logan," but more family-friendly and without all the, you know, violence and cursing and stuff. Don't think too hard about whether those creations are sentient (and thus are capable of having free will), focus instead on the heartwarming family story at the core of the movie, and you'll likely come away with a newfound love for this underrated gem.

Star Anthony Mackie, who portrayed the owner of an underground robot fighting ring in the film, still shares that love for "Real Steel" a decade later in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Saying that he wanted a hypothetical "Real Steel" franchise to "be like the 'Fast and the Furious' series," Mackie points out that the potential for sequels is "endless."

"I always thought about the idea of going to the underground world and seeing what the reality is. The underground boxing circuit is so different than that last fight [the finale League match in the movie] with all the glitz and the glam and the polish. I feel like you can do a 'Mad Max' meets 'Real Steel,' and I could be Tina Turner."
"...it would be hilarious to show [Max, the son of Hugh Jackman's character] coming back as a grown adult now and he's a successful businessman and he doesn't have time for robot boxing. 'That's for kids!' And he falls back in love with robot boxing and realizes that life is happier when you're not stressed with work. I think that would be a great storyline."

The way Mackie pitches it, you might think "Real Steel" could've been the next generational story of our lifetime ... and I say we hear him out! Unfortunately, the realities of the business dictated otherwise, as director Shawn Levy explained.

"We did well, but not well enough. It wasn't like we had $500 million and a sequel was a no-brainer. So, the economics were on the bubble, we didn't have the perfect script idea. It's still something we flirt with because whatever enduring love fans have for Real Steel, Hugh Jackman and I share it."

In lieu of a "Real Steel" sequel or two, I will happily settle for fans giving it plenty of continued appreciation.