is a film based on the DC Comics titular character
, staring Shaquille O'Neal as John Henry Irons, who along with partner Susan "Sparky" Sparx designs weapons for the military. However, when Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson), during a demonstration, tries out the gun on the highest setting, it causes the building they're stationed in to collapse around them. This results in Sparky getting injured, leaving her as a paraplegic, which causes Irons to retire in disgust.
After being dismissed for causing the incident, Burke goes to Big Willie Daniels to recruit him to sell Irons' weapons to gangs. However, when Irons witnesses a bank robbery organized by gang members wielding modified guns based on his design, he begins to investigate, including confronting the gang members at their own hangout. Irons visits Sparky in a veteran's hospital and takes her to his own assembled labratory, where he hopes they can create weapons needed to combat the criminals. With the help of Uncle Joe (Richard Roundtree), they forge a suit of armor and the weaponry necessary for Irons to carry out his war on crime and become the vigilante "Steel". However, Irons is soon pursued by the cops, who believe him to be connected to the weapons and robberies.
This film provides examples of:
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Martin.
- Batman Gambit: Steel manages to pull one on Burke in the end by using his vice against him.
- Broken Aesop: The movie has an anti-gun message, even though Steel uses a weapon that is, by definition, a gun. He also creates more guns to stop criminals.
- Canon Foreigner: Sparky (although she's arguably Oracle under an assumed name). In fact, pretty much everyone except John Henry and his grandmother.
- Cool Old Guy: Uncle Joe.
- Drop the Hammer
- Dull Surprise
- Endangered Soufflé: Grandma always tells John to quiet down whenever he enters the house.
- Fell Off the Back of a Truck: The explanation given to Sparks on how they'll get the materials they need for their plan.
- Finger Wag
- Handicapped Badass: Sparky.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Burke is killed by his own laser when it is deflected off of Steel's armor.
- In Name Only: The film cuts all Superman references apart from the title character wearing a Superman tattoo...which is unintentional, since Shaquille O'Neal, who plays the title character, already had it.
- Jive Turkey: Martin.
- Meaningful Name: "A man named John Henry must have a hammer!"
- Mission Control: Sparky.
- Non-Actor Vehicle
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Susan "Sparky" Sparx.
- Platonic Life Partners: Johnny and Sparky.
- Ray Gun: The weapons developed by Johnny and stolen by Burke appear to be able to switch between Frickin' Laser Beams and concussion blast. How these mix together is not explained.
- Running Gag: Johnny's inability to make a free throw, Grandma Odessa's attempt in making a souffle.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Sparky being paralyzed from the weapon he designed is what drives Johnny to leave the military.
- Smug Snake: Burke.
- Super Wheel Chair: Sparky's.
- The Dog Bites Back: After Burke shoots Slats, within the confusion from Steel and Sparky's rebellion, the gang opens fire towards him.
- Take That Me: Steel has the same success rate of making Free Throws as Shaq does (See Running Gag).
- Token Evil Teammate: Burke.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Burke casually shoots Big Willy Daniels in the middle of an auction.