Real Steel: The rise of the deus ex machina

Real Steel is a science fiction/action movie, takes place in the near future when the human boxers are replaced with advanced boxing robots but apart from that everything else being just the same as now. Movie also tells the story of how Charlie and his son Max, whose mother and Charlie split up just before he was born and therefore never had a chance to be together, fail to get together again.


Fig.1. It’s not clear on the poster but there’s unfortunately a father & son story as well

There’s a detailed summary of the movie and which is the story of Charlie’s irresponsible, unaccountable behaviour, so if you’re really determined to watch this movie just because there are some robot beating the shit out of each other, which is a fair reason for me, I urge you not to read the rest.






We find Charlie at the beginning of the movie living in a van and in a state of not-doing-so-well in business, as he’s doing robot fighting shows in a town fair. After a brief telephone conversation, we also learn that he’s in debt of some $30.000. The show in the town fair consists of his robot fighting against a real bull, which gives the audience a hint about the movie’s vision of future as in spite of the scientific advances of the future such as the humanoid boxer robots is not by any means extend to the areas like animal rights.

The fact that the bull he was supposed the to fight against is almost four times larger than we was bargained for does not discourage Charlie, on the contrary, he takes a bet with Ricky, who is also almost 4 times larger than Charlie, for a bet of $20.000. Instead of focusing on the match which would last a few minutes, he flirts with some girls nearby, while the bull rips his robot apart.


Fig.2. We’ll never forgive him for denying us the possible threesome scene

While he’s escaping the fair with his now $50.000 debt, he learns that the women, whom he left 11 years ago while she was pregnant, is dead and the child’s custody passed on to him. He leaves the fair to give up the custody.

In the court scene where the custody issue is discussed, we learn that, Max’s aunt, who succeeds to mention that they are rich six times in under one minute, is rich and wants the custody of Max. These facts and probably armed people being after Charlie, he decides to give up custody for money.


Fig.3. Courtroom is also made out of pure gold

Charlie and Max’s future stepfather Marvin agrees on paying Charlie $50.000 now and $50.000 after Marvin and his wife returns from a trip, while which Charlie will be taking care of Max. So, Charlie’s debts are cleared for a while.

Because Charlie and Max also agrees on keeping this agreement a secret, Marvin makes the payment in broad daylight in the middle of a street, where Max notices it. It is now clear for us that unlike the former two characters, we assume that Max has no mental issues. However, because he is Charlie’s son, he has exactly the same personality as his father, and instead of being surprised or sad, he wants his cut of the money. In fact, during overall scene, characters feel like, you know, kind of sad, but not really. Like no one wanted she to die, but now that she’s dead, how would being sad help? All of them are consistently sociopaths.


Fig.4. “I can see your secret agreement clearly from this distance, you know”

Now that he has some money, Charlie immediately buys a one-famous boxer robot called the Noisy Boy. During the 30-40 seconds that he tries to control this differently sound controlled robot we understand two things: 1. Charlie does know a lot about robot controls 2. Max does.


Fig.5. Hugh Jackman tries his best to get rid of the father&son story of the movie. We appreciate that.


Fig.6. Skipping the tutorial where controls as well as quick save and quick load being covered is never a bright idea

While searching for some spare parts in the junkyard, they find the deus ex machina named Atom, half buried in the ground totally ready to go. Charlie explains that this is a sparring bot, which could “take a hit” (as in being immortal) but wouldn’t be very effective for dealing damage in a real fight. But that does not convince Max; he digs up and carries the robot by himself.


Fig.7. The only difference between a junkyard and a store is the goods being covered in mud or not

By losing this fight Charlie’s debts increases to $50.000 along with additional his additional debt to Bailey, who is now against the danger of losing her father’s boxing gym. So, Charlie being as reckless as an 11-year-old can easily point out, Bailey refuses to help him build a new robot for free. Charlie returns to the underground boxing arena to ask for more money to borrow.

There Max, sees another boxing robot Zeus:

The champ is here. Zeus is here. Zeus! No one has ever gone two rounds with this monster. Two rounds!.. Zeus, greatest robot boxer of all time. Ever. End of story. Good night!


Fig.8. Zeus, a.k.a Megatron is actually a modification of a military model used in the Middle-East

Due to this introduction, you might think, Atom has no chance against Zeus. But the next scene reveals that Zeus have no chance due to the fact that Zeus’ owner is some Russian woman and designer is some Chinese bloke. If Zeus had any chance at all against white American trash, this would be shittiest world possible, according to every American movie ever made.


Fig.9. Although their opponents are richer, smarter, better equipped and better disciplined, they also have the overwhelming disadvantage of “not being American”

After Charlie not being able to get a loan, and due to Max constantly nagging him, he brings Max an even more underground arena, where Atom’s immortality is pretty much revealed. Atom beats its opponent under Charlie’s control which is the second deus ex machine of the movie as Atom being a mere sparring bot cannot be defeated by a robot who has a hammer for a hand, whose endurance went unnoticed by the huge boxing industry, Atom’s former owners, Atom’s creators, robot owners whose robots practiced against Atom, and practically everyone in the world except Max.


Fig.10. Even the post-apocalyptic punks of the movie are loyal to their debts, unlike Charlie

Max, transfers the voice control system which caused Noisy Boy’s destruction to Atom and passing fight scenes prove Atom’s immortality being very practical. Charlie makes actual money by his profession first time since the beginning of the movie.

This success, of course, grabs the attention of rich Russian people and they want to buy Atom. While half-witt Charlie tries to kill the goose with golden eggs, Max does not accept that. They beat the shit out of a robot called the Twin Tower run by a professional team and Max challenges team Zeus from the ring.


Fig.11. The most ironic scene of the movie where Twin Towers team losing a match against a robot they threw to a junkyard 10 years ago

After the match, Charlie gets beaten by Ricky and his friends whom he cheated at the beginning of the movie and gets his money taken. He continues to succeed in choosing the worst possible courses of action as he does since the beginning of the movie as he gives up his undefeated boxing robot and take Max to his new stepparents. He also does not accept the second payment of their agreement.


Fig.12. “I do not want your money Marvin… What do you mean ‘the rest’? You’re holding all of it”

And after that he changes his mind yet again after a brief speech with Bailey and decides to fight against Zeus with Max on his side, and this is him being closest to be a father.

During the fight, Atom’s voice control system breaks and the third deus ex machina of the movie walks in, as they use Atom’s “mirroring capability” to beat the shit out of Zeus for ten something rounds against whom “no one saw the second round, ever, period, good night”.


Fig.13. The father, the son and the holy spirit. Immortality of holy spirit is handy.

However, match finishes before a knockout and Zeus wins by total scores. But despite their disciplined, professional, technologically advanced asshole opponents who are victorious, embraced as “people’s champions” by the audience.


Fig.14. If they had found this in the junkyard, it would have been total world domination

In conclusion, movie proves beyond any doubt that the only thing a person who constantly gambles, who asks people for money that he’s already in debt to, who abandons his family and even when trying to make it right, not dealing with the actual problem but trying a way around needs only three miracles. American dream.