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The Real Reason Why We Might Still See Real Steel 2

There's an appeal and an allure to a cult classic film: a movie that people know and love that has a dedicated fan base, one that fans enjoy on repeat viewings and speculate wildly about a potential sequel and how amazing it would be. Often these films aren't box office successes, or sometimes they're profitable but the moment still just isn't right. For some movies, that much-anticipated sequel doesn't materialize, but there's a small guttering flame of hope among fans that somehow, the story they've so enjoyed will get picked up. It's a dream that many fans of an underdog, underappreciated film hold on to, though more often than not it simply doesn't happen.

Such is the case with "Real Steel," a 2011 science-fiction sports drama that's a deft blend of "Rocky" and "Robocop." Fans of the film have always held out hope for a sequel, and it's recently come to light that a potential follow-up actually might happen after all.

A Sci-Fi Underdog Story

Directed by Shawn Levy and starring Hugh Jackman, "Real Steel" tells the story of a near-future world where boxers have been replaced by robots who can dish out — and take — much more damage. Jackman plays a former boxer turned robot handler named Charlie, forced to take in his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) after the boy's mother dies. The two bond over Atom, a robot they find in a junkyard after Charlie's original boxing bot is destroyed. Rebuilding Atom and training him to fight, the pair find themselves rising through the ranks of the underground robot fighting circuit and eventually making their way to the championship in Charlie's last bid for a comeback.

"Real Steel" certainly had a fair number of fans back in 2011: the film returned $300 million on its $100 million dollar budget and was a success by that metric at least. But with the film's debut on Netflix last year, it soon surged into the top 10, becoming a popular hit just behind some of the streaming services' original fare. Now, the possibility of a sequel has gone from highly unlikely to a potential possibility.

A ray of hope

During the press tour for his upcoming film "Free Guy," Levy spoke about the possibility for a "Real Steel" sequel: "It has been in my mind and in conversation a lot lately," Levy began. "Maybe because of the fact that when Netflix started streaming it during the lockdown, it became one of their top trending and most-viewed titles. Which led to Hugh and I talking again about, 'What is this love for Real Steel?' Kind of this realization that, 'Well wait, we love it that much too.' We've always loved it that much too. It's one of those 'never say nevers,' it feels like the clock has run out on that window of opportunity. It feels like that fan-love and that audience hasn't gone away. So, who knows?"

While "Real Steel" stands on its own as a film, the world it built is an intriguing one, and open to further exploration. There are definitely questions left unanswered by the original film's ending, and should Jackman and Goyo reprise their roles, there could be room to build on the father-son dynamic as they work to get Atom to the pinnacle of robot fighting. Only time will tell if the idea of a sequel becomes a reality — but betting on a long shot is what "Real Steel" is all about.