Steel (1997) Movie Review

Title: Steel.
Rated: PG-13.
Director: Kenneth Johnson.
Screenplay: Kenneth Johnson.
Story: Kenneth Johnson.
Release Date: 1997.
Runtime:  97 min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure & Crime.
Cast: Shaquille O’ Neal, Annabeth Gish, Judd Nelson, and many more!
Budget: $16,000,000.
Opening Weekend USA: $870,068.
Gross USA: $1,710,972.
My Overall Rating:★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (2/10).


It’s probably easy to get carried away by the perks of superstardom. Who can blame you? Retired superstar basketball player Shaquille O’Neal clearly knew how to make the most of it. Besides becoming a four-time NBA champion throughout his career, he ventured in various other spheres as his fame, his size, and his humour allowed him to become an iconic figure for the public eye. Although his rap career could warrant plenty of attention, or just criticism, what he went on to accomplish in cinema requires much more resilience than the human being could ever garner. We’re obviously not here to discuss his performance in Kazaam (1996), which at least was somewhat tagged as comedy, but, in fact, we shall revel at the opportunity to look into the second movie of all time to present a comic book superhero played by an African American: Steel. Unfortunately, this societal achievement is short-lived as this movie joins the ranks as one of the worse DC Comics movies of all time.

What is Steel about? The story follows John Henry Irons (Shaquille O’Neal) as a United States military soldier with a specialization in weapon development. During a crucial preliminary weapon test, his comrade Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson) decides to crank up the sonic cannon’s configuration to its maximum potential in a display of virility and causes an incident that will hospitalize John Henry Irons’ best friend Susan Sparks (Annabeth Gish). Following the discharge of Nathaniel Burke, an outraged John Henry Irons decides to resign from his duties and go back to his hometown. However, consumed by vengeance against John Henry Irons who served as a witness to prosecute him, Nathaniel Burke decides to illegally sell modified weapons to gangs and become a monopoly in arms dealing, but John Henry Irons has other plans as he goes on to take justice into his own hands and stop this chaos from getting any worse.

Ranking All DC Movies (Worst to Best) — TDF Everything

Let’s get it out of the way. Similar to Catwoman (2004), this movie completely disregards the source material and prefers recreating the character to fit the story that they want to tell. No problem. The producers simply wanted Shaquille O’Neal to play a non-superpowered human hero to inspire a younger population that had a tough time seeing the light down the tunnel. But Steel is so much more and by completely disregarding his lore, you instantly kill off any chance of captivating an audience. So, who was Steel supposed to be? Following the events in The Death of Superman, where Superman takes on Doomsday and bites the dust, we see the rise of four mysterious Supermen in the Reign of the Superman story arc. Among those heroes is Doctor John Henry Irons who builds a super-powered armoured suit with a cape and a hammer as he dons Superman’s logo and attempts to replace the Man of Steel for a short period of time.

Can you imagine the disappointment when you get this cheap iteration of Steel that never takes off—literally—and has no connection to Superman besides giving the Big Blue Boy Scout a quick nod by zooming into his logo in the form of a hidden tattoo? To further ignore the DC universe, they also have cops making jokes about the Batcave. Come on. They shouldn’t even know such a thing! All that being said, does this story have any redeeming qualities? Absolutely not. But I’ll give it this. It’s so bad that it’s actually funny. The movie is essentially a slightly-higher-budgeted television episode about a hero taking down a villain in all of its cliché glory. There are more plot holes in this piece of entertainment than in Swiss cheese yet has all the rot and maggots needed to keep it indigestible for just about anyone. Everything is simply soaked in superhero banalities and glued together to deliver a terrible movie about vigilante heroism and unacceptable quests for power.

na na na na na na Blackman - GIF - Imgur

I think Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of this garbage but that won’t stop me from acknowledging its absence of any form of quality. Leave it to Shaquille O’Neal’s cringe-worthy smile composing more than half of the scenes in this movie to kill his character’s charisma. Even if we were to overlook that, his acting skills were nowhere to be found. The horrible editing and cinematography accentuate these phenomenal shortcomings by offering us incomprehensible sequences (including the 90s style action scenes filled with explosions and loud noises) long enough to have your head retracting itself in horror. The rest of the cast isn’t any better. The villain makes you wonder what teacher forgot to punish this man as a child for his social and intellectual incompetence. The technological wheelchair sidekick will make you doubt your own education with her ability to create the impossible with absolute garbage. The inevitable-and-mandatory character filled with wisdom might actually be the only legitimately entertaining character but Shaquille O’Neal’s larger-than-life presence overshadows him nevertheless.

I guess it’s true. Trash is trash. They sometimes say that hip-hop makes anything look better but even the score in this movie can’t save this mediocrity from itself. Did I also ever tell you about my theory about superhero movies? If there’s a basketball sequence in it, you know it’s going to be a bad movie. And this one had plenty of references to it, especially with Shaquille O’Neal’s infamous reputation to be unable to shoot a free throw to save a life. But this time around… He has to if he wants to live. In the end, you simply shouldn’t dare check this out unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. After all, my brain switched off quite quickly, just after the opening credit sequence worthy of an excruciatingly boring metallurgy class. I then followed what a wise person once told me: laugh on the outside, cry on the inside.

Steel (1997) is a mediocre action movie that fails to inspire but succeeds to offer a phenomenal cringefest.

Based on the character created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove, this live-action movie adaptation of the comic book character was released on August 15, 1997.

Have you read any Steel comics?
Have you seen Steel (1997)? Will you? What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!



44 thoughts on “Steel (1997) Movie Review

  1. I’m so happy flops like that did not prevent the rise of the superhero genre… but delayed it they did. This one I’ll be happy never to watch 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is exactly the kind of rubbish I was watching when I was a stupid kid in the 90s, yet somehow this one escaped me. Just watched the trailer and it looks genuienly unwatchable but I can never truly hate a bad 90s action movie so I may still have to watch it now.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow…why do you keep doing this to yourself my good man (haha)?! Maybe you’ve developed some sort of resistance after the terrors of Jonah Hex and Catwoman? Great piece though Lashaan, you had me in stitches (it also left me with an appetite for some swiss cheese).

    Like Catwoman, I’m aware of the notoriety of Steel (but wasn’t aware it was written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, surprising as he gets some acclaim and respect for developing and producing the 1970s Hulk tv show) and as with Catwoman I’m unlikely ever to subject myself to this – especially given that, again, like Catwoman, it’s not only awful but virtually ignores the source material. A shame since Steel is a great character and one of the stars of the classic Reign of the Superman.

    Now, please, man, restore your spirit by watching the Dark Knight trilogy or something haha!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahahaha you might onto something there! But I had my share of bad movies to watch them now with a somewhat critical eye. 😂 Glad this review at least built an appetite for cheese now!

      I too was surprised to learn the implication of Kenneth Johnson for this one and now I’m going to have a hard time forgetting his role in this one hahah I wish they didn’t blatantly try to recreate this character. They should’ve just invented a whole other hero just for Shaq!

      I am VERY impressed by your comment on Nolan’s trilogy because THAT is exactly what I plan to go through over the upcoming months to review on my blog! 😂 Great minds think alike huh? Hahahah

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I found out that this had nothing to do with Superman back in the day, my interest in watching it went to zero. Sounds like I made the right choice. And I agree with PiotreK, movies like this are what delayed the superhero genre for so long. Thankfully, Spiderman showed us that a superhero movie could be good and I feel that was the point where it began to grow and get some momentum.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. First of all, thank you for saving me the time of watching that. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it, but there’re already too many hours of bad movies I’ll never get back. Great review! Two questions if I may: One, How’d it top one star, and two, Have you ever played ShaqFu? It’s the same attempt at capitalizing on Shaq with about the same success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Will! I appreciate it. I knew of its existence only after digging thoroughly in DC-related projects a very long time ago and I’m glad to have given it a try now even if it was bound to be a disaster hahah

      It got that extra for making me occasionally laugh by being VERY bad hahahah

      I have heard a lot things about the original ShaqFu but never had the chance to try it out! 😮 I do know that there was a PS4 sequel for it that visually didn’t look so bad but I’m convinced anything Shaq-related could even get a passable grade from me hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ow ow ow, that must’ve hurt! How is your brain, Lashaan? Hopefully the damage won’t be lasting 😛

    Don’t start me on Shaq; I realize a basketball career is something that ends quickly, but do we really have to be exposed to Shaq’s anti-personality? And I’ll save you time you’d otherwise spend looking for Shaq’s acting skills – he has none 😛

    Thankfully I didn’t even know this abomination existed, and now that I know, I’ll stay away 😀 But I need to know – what’s the second star for?

    Great review, I had a laugh! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah my brain is fine! I left it in the closet while I went through this one. 😛

      Oh, yes. He has a brain-numbing ability whenever he’s filmed. He’s a sports commentator today and every time I hear him to discuss things, I’m wholly unimpressed… Hope he doesn’t show up in anymore movies but something tells me he’s probably got a role in the upcoming Space Jam sequel…

      The second star is for those moments where my heart ached and my head hurt to the point where I just ended up laughing at how cringey this turned out to be. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I watched this a while back, and found it entertainingly bad. Shaq’s acting is terrible, but like the worst of the Schwarzenegger movies, it’s entertainingly bad. As bad as the movie is, it feels like the filmmakers were trying to make an entertaining superhero flick. At the time I knew nothing about Steel as a character (still far from being an expert now), so none of the inaccuracies bothered me. And it wasn’t unusual for 90’s superhero movies to disregard their source material. The 1990 Captain America movie shows him heroically abandoning his partners, an Italian Red Skull instead of Cap’s biggest villain being German, and a plot that really doesn’t make sense. It’s actually the lowest rated movie based on a Marvel superhero on Rotten Tomatoes. And then of course there’s Batman and Robin. Let’s not talk about that one just yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree. It is entertainingly bad. But for what it was, I still think it’s a completely dull take on superhero movies and offers nothing rewarding too. There are more flaws than I could count on my fingers and ultimately just feels like a cheap Saturday morning superhero special hahah

      I haven’t heard of that Captain America actually! 😮 I look forward to the day when I’ll revisit all the Marvel movies now. Still got a bunch of DC movies to review on my blog hahah

      Oh yes. It’s at the top of my reviewing queue. I’ll be torturing myself without any re-watch of the atrocious Batman and Robin movie. I can’t wait hahahah


  8. Hahaha this movie sounds horrible 😂 are there really hiphop songs in it? 😂 I don’t know how you can have so much patience to watch terrible movies like that 😂 I’m pretty sure you didn’t like it because there were jokes about the Batcave… 🤔 But don’t worry, Lashaan, they’re not talking about YOUR Batcave! 😚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course hahah it has to sound somewhat gangster during those cool sequences, right? 😛 Ahh, I’ve built a tolerance for bad movies and I always prefer having seen them fully to justify criticizing them too hahaha Hmm… I won’t lie that it hurt that they made such a lame Batcave joke! 😛 Shhhh, we don’t talk about that! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, I had never heard of that movie and I will probably forget it as soon as I submit this comment 😂 I have to say that it is somehow always quite enjoyable to read your bad reviews Lashaan ahah (bad as in bad movies/books, because the reviews themselves are always great 😀)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s