Hugh Jackman’s sci-fi/sports offering Real Steel did perfectly alright by itself back during its theatrical run in 2011, when it earned a decent critical reception overall and took in just shy of $300 million worldwide ($85 million in the U.S.). However, over the three years since then we’ve heard little to nothing about development on a sequel – even though Real Steel screenwriter John Gatins (who’s now an Oscar-nominee thanks to his Flight script) was recruited to pen the followup even before the first movie hit theaters.
That lack of progress can partly be chalked up to Jackman and Real Steel director Shawn Levy having both been quite busy of late. The former has worked on several movies over the past few years (including two X-Men films), while Levy has directed three theatrically-released movies – including next week’s This Is Where I Leave You and this December’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. However, according to a new interview with Levy, he and Jackman continued (and continue still) to work on Real Steel 2 on the side, during that same period of time.
Production on Real Steel 2 isn’t going to be getting started in the immediate future – not with Jackman currently prepping to go and film X-Men: Apocalypse and the Wolverine sequel (maybe back to back) for arrival in 2016 and 2017, respectively. That’s not to say the project’s out of time just yet; Secret of the Tomb, after all, is a Levy-helmed franchise sequel that’s taken five years to make it to the big screen. Nonetheless, the clock is ticking, and Levy acknowledged as much, when he recently provided the following Real Steel 2 update to Coming Soon.
“We have been quietly developing a sequel to ‘Real Steel’ for three and a half years. We’ve come up with some great scripts but Hugh and I would only make it if the plot feels fresh, but also the character journeys feel fresh, and we’ve found both but never at the same time. It’s ongoing. I know the clock is ticking. That movie, weirdly, for a movie that did very well globally–it did okay domestically–but the love for ‘Real Steel’ remains kind of unique as far as rabid fans who ask me all the time for another one. Hugh and I love that movie so if we can crack it, we’ll make it, but I have this sense that we better make that happen soon or frankly, the audience may not be there in the same way. So we shall see.”
There are various places where a sequel could take Jackman’s Real Steel character, Charlie Kenton, though the first movie didn’t exactly leave off in a place that makes it obvious what the plot of the followup should be (something Levy’s comments indirectly call attention to). At the same time, though, Real Steel very much left the backstory for the boxing robot Atom to remain a mystery – one that, three years ago, Levy told us would definitely be explored the sequel, even as the story continues to progress in a linear (read: forward) fashion.
Levy also once said that a Real Steel sequel will without doubt continue to explore the sci-fi universe established in the first movie – including, elements such as the “class warfare” between underground robot fighting organizations and the more heavily commercialized World Robot Boxing (WRB) league. The problem, as Levy pointed out to CS, is figuring out how to both build on the first movie and yet, at the same time, not rehash the father-son storyline between Charlie and his son, Max (Dakota Goyo), but simply with older versions of the two characters.
That’s a problem that Levy, Jackman, and (presumably) Gatins will have to figure out sooner than later, if Real Steel 2 is going to actually happen. Feel free and let us know if you’re (still) interested in seeing this particular sequel – or, rather, if you think Real Steel is better off as a standalone movie than a franchise.