The character of John Henry Irons — the hero known as Steel in the DC Universe — has been rarely present in the last decade or so. He has made brief appearances in both the New 52 and Rebirth eras, but has not had his own ongoing series since the mid-’90s, and has not been a consistent member of the Justice League since before DC’s 2011 relaunch. During a recent appearance on The Film Rescue Podcast, the character’s co-creator Jon Bogdanove, who drew Superman: The Man of Steel in the ’90s and provided covers for much of the Steel ongoing series of the ’90s, said that he would like to see the character show up more.
Bogdanove noted that most superheroes are archetypes, and both DC and Marvel tend to steal one another’s archetypes back and forth — but that without somebody like Steel front and center, DC doesn’t have an Iron Man parallel. He added that he thought Black Panther scribe and best-selling writer Ta-Nehisi Coates would be a great choice to do it.
“Ta-Nehisi Coates would be great,” Bogdanove said, noting that while he would love to revisit the character with co-creator Louise Simonson, it is probably a good idea to let a person of color have their say. “I don’t know if that’s a get they could possibly get, but I think we would get a good take there.”
Bogdanove, who joked that the Steel movie provided he and Simonson with a 40-cent royalty check every few months, said that his idea that DC needs somebody like Iron Man has never gone away.
“I still think that the idea of a home-made Iron Man,” Bogdanove said. “DC already has a billionaire superhero, so we don’t need to chase Tony Stark; we have Bruce Wayne. But the idea of a guy who retires from the Establishment, leaves the Establishment, and just because he’s so smart, on a shoestring, he’s able to become a kind of DIY Iron Man. I think it’s good to have a guy who does it, not with inherited wealth, but with his brains.”
He also added that Steel’s popularity with fans make him a good choice to have around so that DC can have a more diverse Justice League lineup without attracting claims that they are engaging in performative diversity.
“There are things that are problematic from a political standpoint with Cyborg,” Bogdanove argued, referencing the character who has been a staple on the Justice League since 2011. “If your token Black character, his body is mutilated, there are things uncomfortable about that from a modern perspective that probably weren’t as noticeable in 1980.”