From Night at the Museum to Stranger Things to futuristic actioner Real Steel, it’s fair to say that director Shawn Levy has dabbled in a variety of different genres throughout his career. He’ll soon call upon his knowledge of swashbuckling adventure for Sony’s Uncharted movie, but one project that is never too far from conversation is Real Steel 2.
Speaking to Collider after a special IMAX screening of the 2011 original, Levy revealed that plans for a follow-up to the family-friendly sci-fi were originally drafted up mid-way through development, before they were ultimately shelved in fear of repeating what had come before.
The most frequent tweet I get is about the sequel to Real Steel. I wish I had a conclusive answer. Here’s the truth: We started developing a sequel like six months before the movie came out. We knew as soon as we started previewing this movie and it was getting mid to high 90s at every test screening. It happens really rarely, but the movie had something that audiences responded to and so we started coming up with ideas for the sequel. The simple truth, the most concise truth I can express, is that it proved, and it has proven, really hard to come up with a sequel that doesn’t feel like a re-hash of the first movie. Yeah, people wanted to see Atom beat Zeus, I would love to see Atom beat Zeus, but you don’t want to retell the story of kind of an alienation between Charlie and Max because that is really the plot of the first movie.
Levy, who crafted Real Steel alongside leading star Hugh Jackman and executive producer Steven Spielberg, did shed some light on the sequel’s premise, one which would have divulged more of Atom’s origin story and the history behind those artificial brawlers.
One area that I still would love to explore is that notion of how was Atom built? What is it about his design that might have embedded some artificial or organic intelligence and consciousness, such that he is self-aware to some extent? So all I’ll say is, we’ve attempted it a few times with a number of writers, and no draft got me, Hugh, and Steven all there to a yes in the same moment. It all felt like it wasn’t quite enough to promise a new story and a new movie.
Finally, Shawn Levy capped off the Real Steel 2 chat by circling back to its forebear, revealing a deleted scene that essentially confirmed Atom was aware of its own existence. Plot twist!
There’s one aspect to this movie that got cut out; it was in the movie and Steven always loved it. You know that scene where it’s pre-fight with the Twin Cities and Atom sees himself in the mirror? There was … my God, I’ve never actually shared this … but when the movie first came out, people were like, “I saw Atom move! Atom moved! He definitely moved, right? He has consciousness?” And I kind of fell back into this stock answer of, “I don’t know. It’s whatever you want to decide for yourself.” But when we shot that scene, he absolutely moved. He recognizes himself. There was a whole moment—I think it’s okay to say all this now that it’s been five years—but there’s a moment where, before the fifth round of the final fight, they’re like, “We’re throwin’ in the towel, it’s over,” and Max and Charlie are arguing, and we see Atom in the background raise his finger and give like a “one more time” gesture.
Looking further down the pipeline, Levy has committed to both the Uncharted movie and the second season of Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things.