Have we seen “Real Steel” before…in the Twilight Zone?

Have we seen “Real Steel” before…in the Twilight Zone?

The big hype is on for the Hugh Jackman starring robot boxing movie, Real Steel.

When I first saw a trailer, I was excited.

I went to http://wwww.imdb.com to see who was adapting the screenplay.

Yes, adapting…I was familiar with Richard Matheson’s Twilight Zone episode, called Steel. Lee Marvin stars as a former boxer (before human boxing was outlawed and the fight game switched to using robots). He’s down on his luck, promoting an outdiated model B2 (the current models are at least B7s).

I was pretty surprised not to see Matheson listed as a writing credit.

However, it turns out Matheson had first adapted his own short story, which had appeared in the May 1956 in Fantasy and Science Fiction. I don’t know why his name doesn’t appear in the IMDB.com credits…those are usually accurate.

I was just surprised…it’s not like the Twilight Zone is exactly obscure. You can watch Steel yourself on streaming Netflix. The episode was first broadcast on October 4, 1963…and repeated probably hundreds of times since.

Clearly, there are some big differences…a major female character, for one thing. I don’t want to give anything away by comparing what I’ve seen too closely…and I haven’t seen Real Steel yet, of course.

The story has been republished (as part of a Matheson short story collection…and those are always good) both in paperback, and for the Kindle. If you get the free sample of the latter, you can read part of the story…

Steel: And Other Stories

Still, it will be interesting to see how they compare…do they use the same slang? Are they set in the same places? Are any of the names the same?

Hey, I already see some things…maybe I’ll keep track of them here.


Similarities between Real Steel and Steel:

  • The main robot in Steel is named Battling Maxo. Dakoto Goya’s character in Real Steal is named Max
  • White-haired James Rebhorn plays a character named Marvin in Real Steel. White-haired Lee Marvin starred in Steel
  • Both adaptations feature battling robots, and different generations of them
  • Both have former boxers who have become promoters of battling robots

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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