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STEEL - Awfully Good Movies (1997) Shaquille O'Neal, Annabeth Gish, Judd Nelson DC Superhero movie

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02.21.2018

STEEL - Awfully Good Movies (1997) Shaquille O'Neal, Annabeth Gish, Judd Nelson DC Superhero movie

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The day has finally arrived when comic book fans can see BLACK PANTHER roar his way onto the big screen, and Awfully Good Movies is marking the occasion with an African-American superhero who helped pave the way for King T'Challa's cinematic arrival: Shaquille O'Neal in the 1997 adaptation of the DC Comics hero STEEL! Yes, as if BATMAN & ROBIN hadn't disgraced the name of DC enough in the summer of 1997, we also saw John Henry Irons--the military weapons maker who filled in for Superman after his death--get his own motion picture...only to have him portrayed by a 7-foot basketball player who had just come off playing a rapping genie with attitude. And if KAZAAM hadn't done enough to put Shaq's movie career on the bench, then STEEL helped sideline it for the rest of the season, which is unfortunate, seeing as how legendary producer Quincy Jones wanted a movie superhero who would instill hope in hopeless urban children across the country.

But with his lumbering body, monotone line delivery, and metal costume that clearly consists of foam rubber, the only emotion that Shaq got from audiences was laughter, especially when you've got him facing off against a wimpy Judd Nelson for smuggling illegal weapons inside arcade game cabinets. Of course, he can't take down John Bender all by himself, so he's got some help from his newly-handicapped fellow soldier Sparky (played by Monica Reyes from THE X-FILES), his junkyard-running Uncle Joe (played by Richard "Shaft" Roundtree), and his little brother Martin (played by sex tape star, and also singer, Ray J). It's a film that shows us, on this weekend of BLACK PANTHER's release during Black History Month, how far we have come--not just in terms of racial equality, but in terms of writing comic book movies which aren't laughably awful...and casting actual actors to play your superheroes instead of sports athletes. Seriously, Shaq, we all love ya, but I feel I need to apologize to Michael Jordan for all the crap I gave him for SPACE JAM.

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