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Real Steel 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

When "Real Steel" hit theaters in 2011, it seemed like Disney wasn't quite sure how to market it. Michael Bay's "Transformers" franchise was in its heyday, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was starting to become the hottest property at the movies. "Real Steel" was marketed toward the same type of crowd, despite the fact that it's much more of a father-son drama than a smash-em-up robot movie.

(That said, there are still plenty of robots being smashed up in the film.)

Based on a short story by Richard Matheson, "Real Steel" tells the story of a washed-up boxer named Charlie, who gets a second chance at glory in a futuristic sport where robots replace humans in the ring. After Charlie and his young son, Max, find a junked sparring robot named Atom, they find a joint purpose in turning their underdog bot into a champion.

Over the years, the film has turned up on streaming services a few different times, often getting fans wondering if a sequel will ever come to be. Here's what we know about the chances of us getting to see a "Real Steel 2" sometime down the line.

Why isn't Real Steel 2 happening yet?

There are a few different reasons that "Real Steel 2" hasn't made it to the production line yet. The first is the obvious one: It just didn't make enough money. The film made about $300 million worldwide by the time it wrapped up its theatrical run. While that's definitely an impressive figure, it isn't quite in the realm of "automatic sequel" when it comes to studio greenlighting, especially for a movie that is supposed to be an action tentpole release.

The other reason is a bit more practical. Director Shawn Levy has said several times that he just hasn't found a truly great story to tell. In an interview with Collider, he said that coming up with a plot that doesn't just rehash the original film is difficult, especially because "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."

Despite that, there have been plenty of rumors about the possibility of a sequel. Even Levy himself has contributed to those — he has mentioned an in-development television series, though very few details have come out about it. He also seems more open to a big-screen sequel, though details there are even murkier.

What have the cast and crew said about a Real Steel sequel?

Director Shawn Levy seems down to go another round with "Real Steel," but what about the original film's cast? Levy says he doubts Jackman would be involved if they wind up going the series route, but we wouldn't count him out of it until the bell rings ...

Jackman is no stranger to sequels, and he seems to have some serious love for his little "father-son fighting robots" movie. He said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the first time he met with Levy to talk about the film, he got goosebumps discussing its climactic ending. He has also shown interest in sequels to other stand-alone films he's made, such as "The Greatest Showman." Like Levy, it seems that there has got to be a script to warrant it in order to get Jackman back in the ring.

One actor from the original film who has shown a huge amount of enthusiasm for a sequel is Anthony Mackie. He told Entertainment Weekly that he has "always advocated for a sequel," and he even has some ideas for where the plot could go. The MCU star also told Inverse that he calls Shawn Levy at least once a year, asking when they're going to shoot the follow-up. Crazier still, Mackie claimed there could've been a ton of "Real Steel" movies, telling Inverse, "It was supposed to be a trilogy. It was supposed to be three or four movies together." Considering Mackie's rise since the original film came out, his involvement might be enough to make a "Real Steel" series a reality.

What could be explored in a Real Steel sequel?

There are a few different routes a sequel to "Real Steel" could take, so let's run down the list. The first would just be a continuation of the original film's story. This might be a bit tricky at this point, since the original film came out in 2011, but it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine Charlie and Max bringing Atom back for another shot at the title — and probably winning it this time, à la "Rocky 2."

Anthony Mackie has thrown out a few ideas for a "Real Steel 2," including one that explores the world of underground robot boxing that we see bits of early on in the original film. He has also discussed the concept of the now-grown-up version of his character falling back in love with robot boxing after leaving the sport.

One other possible plotline is a big question from the original film: Is Atom actually a sentient being? Shawn Levy has teased a prequel being a likely plot option, showing how Atom was made and exploring just how human these machines are.

Who would star in a Real Steel sequel?

This is where things start to get tricky. It's hard to imagine anything related to "Real Steel" without its central, emotional core. However, Charlie and Max had a pretty well-wrapped story when the film ended, and it's been long enough since the original that there would have to be some heavy-duty plot explanation about what has happened since the events of the original.

It would be great to see Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo again, but Goyo also hasn't acted in over a decade. It seems unlikely he'd be back, unless it was in a small, cameo-style role. Jackman seems like a must-have on paper, but probably isn't essential to the film beyond the name recognition.

Bringing back smaller characters who have gone on to bigger and better things seems more likely. Anthony Mackie and Evangeline Lilly both found success in the MCU, so they seem like strong candidates to lead "Real Steel 2." A sequel could also see a totally new cast, just in the same world as the original film.

The story may be continued on Disney+ instead

Though a lot of fans have been clamoring for a true, big-screen sequel to "Real Steel," we might see a different iteration before things are all said and done. Instead of a sequel coming to theaters, it sounds like a "Real Steel" TV series is more likely, according to numerous reports and director Shawn Levy himself.

In early 2022, Levy dropped a few "Real Steel" bombshells that shook fans up. He announced that a series was in development, and also that it would stream on Disney+. He told Mike Reyes of CinemaBlend that he didn't know if Hugh Jackman would appear, but called it a "possibility." He also said a true sequel film was possible.

In more recent news, Levy announced that he'd found a writer for the series. In December 2022, he told Collider that he was extremely protective of the "Real Steel" name, and that he would "rather make no show than the wrong show." Even though Levy wouldn't reveal who's writing the series, the fact that he's found someone he trusts makes it much more likely that the project will get off the ground.