Real Steel is a 2011 American science fiction sports drama film starring Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo, co-produced and directed by Shawn Levy for DreamWorks Pictures. The film is based on the short story Steel, written by Richard Matheson, which was originally published in the May 1956 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and later adapted into a 1963 Twilight Zone episode, though screenwriter John Gatins placed the film in U.S. state fairs and other "old-fashioned" Americanasettings. Real Steel was in development for several years before production began on June 24, 2010. Filming took place primarily in the U.S. state of Michigan. Animatronic robots were built for the film, and motion capture technology was used to depict the brawling of computer-generated robots and animatronics.
Real Steel was theatrically released by Touchstone Pictures in Australia on October 6, 2011, and in the United States and Canada on October 7, 2011, grossing nearly $300 million at the box office and received mixed reviews; with criticism for its similarities to Rocky, but yet praise to the visual effects, action sequences and acting performances. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 84th Academy Awards, but lost to Hugo.
In 2020, human boxers are replaced by robots. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a former boxer, owns "Ambush", but loses it in an arranged fight against a bull belonging to promoter and carnival owner, Ricky (Kevin Durand), who sees Charlie as a joke, partially because he beat Charlie up the last time they competed in the ring. Having made a bet that Ambush would win, Charlie now has a debt to Ricky — which he runs out on.
After the fight, Charlie learns that his ex-girlfriend died and he must attend a hearing deciding the future of their son, Max (Dakota Goyo). There, Max's aunt, Debra (Hope Davis), and her wealthy husband, Marvin (James Rebhorn), request full custody, which Charlie concedes for $100,000; half in advance, on the condition that Charlie retains Max for three months. Thereupon, Charlie and Max, and Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly), the daughter of Charlie's former boxing coach, acquire the once-famous "Noisy Boy", arrange a fight but is destroyed by "Midas". Attempting to scavenge parts of a new robot from a junkyard, Max discovers "Atom", an obsolete but intact sparring robot designed to withstand severe damage, and capable of mirroring its handler's movement.
At Max's behest, Charlie pits Atom against "Metro", whom Atom overcomes. Max convinces Charlie to control Atom, resulting in a series of victories and culminating with the defeat of national champion, "Twin Cities". Elated by their success, Max challenges global champion, "Zeus". After the fight, Ricky and his two henchmen attack and rob Charlie of their winnings, which prompts him to return Max to Debra. Persuaded by Bailey, Charlie arranges the challenge offered by Max and convinces Debra to allow Max to witness the fight. Ricky bets $100,000 that Atom will not last the first round against Zeus, but loses and is cornered by the fight'sbookmakers. In the penultimate round, Atom's vocal controls are damaged, whereupon Charlie guides the robot through shadow mode to weaken and overwhelm Zeus, but is unable to win within the allotted time. Zeus is declared the winner by number of blows inflicted but the near-defeat leaves Zeus' team humiliated, and Atom is labelled the "People's Champion".
- Hugh Jackman as Charles 'Charlie' Kenton
- Dakota Goyo as Max Kenton
- Evangeline Lilly as Bailey Tallet
- Anthony Mackie as Finn
- Olga Fonda as Farra Lemkova
- Karl Yune as Tak Mashido
- Kevin Durand as Ricky
- Hope Davis as Debra
- James Rebhorn as Marvin
- John Gatins as Kingpin