Max Steel is a realistic re-interpretation of the traditional superhero film

Filled with high-octane action, Max Steel is a riveting coming-of-age story that will be identifiable for audiences worldwide.

The highly anticipated live action origin story of Max Steel, based on the popular Mattel franchise property of the same name, was written by Marvel vet Christopher L. Yost (Thor: the Dark World, Thor 3) and was directed by award-winning director Stewart Hendler (Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, H+)

This live action feature-length origin story combines identifiable characters, familiar terrestrial settings and innovative use of technology to create a realistic re-interpretation of the traditional superhero film.



Teenager Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) and his mother have recently moved back to Copper Canyon, the town where Max was born and his scientist father died under mysterious circumstances.  Adjusting to a new school is not easy for Max, and becomes even more complicated when his body starts to generate strange energy flare-ups that he can’t control. This unpredictable power surge grows too intense for Max to handle and he is forced to distance himself from those around him, including his new friend, Sofia.  On the brink of fatal combustion, Max is rescued by Steel, a techno-organic extraterrestrial who has been secretly monitoring his progress.  The two discover that when joined together they can control the energy and harness it into superhuman strength – but when apart, neither can survive.

As these unlikely friends learn to accept their connected fates, they begin to uncover secrets surrounding the death of Max’s father and, digging deeper, find themselves hunted by an unforeseen enemy bent on capturing Max and Steel for a sinister agenda of destruction.  Uncertain who to trust, the two will have to work together to uncover the truth and find a way to defeat the mysterious force threatening their world.

A super hero is a fictional character of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest.  Since the debut of the prototypal superhero Lee Falk’s The Phantom in 1936 followed by Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes – ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas – have dominated American comic books and crossed over into other media.  (source: Wikipedia).


Christopher Yost is a renowned film, animation and comic book writer known for his work on Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and the upcoming sequel Thor: Ragnarok. Yost wrote the superhero adventure Secret Headquarters for Paramount Studios as well as the origin story of Max Steel for Dolphin Films and Mattel. Yost got his start in TV animation, working on Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before joining Marvel Studios’ Writers Program, where he developed multiple feature projects for the Studio. He continues to write for comic book and animation projects like Star Wars: Rebels, Spider-Man and X-Men in his spare time.

Superheroes are a tradition in the world of film making, but in the hands of master storyteller Christopher L. Yost, Max Steel is anything but a traditional superhero movie.

Max Steel, the first new superhero in two decades, marks the first collaboration between Dolphin Films and Mattel.  Filled with high-octane action, Max Steel is a riveting coming-of-age story that will be identifiable for audiences worldwide.

“We at Dolphin loved the idea that a teenager could be a superhero,” says Bill O’Dowd, CEO of Dolphin Films and co-producer of Max Steel.  “The fact that he had a companion, Steel, that made him a superhero, was even more exciting to us, and Steel is such a fun character.  It gave us a huge opportunity to make a buddy comedy amidst all the tension of possibly losing the world.”

“We at Dolphin loved the idea that a teenager could be a superhero,” says Bill O’Dowd, CEO of Dolphin Films and co-producer of Max Steel.  “The fact that he had a companion, Steel, that made him a superhero, was even more exciting to us, and Steel is such a fun character.  It gave us a huge opportunity to make a buddy comedy amidst all the tension of possibly losing the world.”

O’Dowd describes the story, “The plot chronicles the adventures of teenage Max McGrath and his alien companion Steel.  The two must harness and combine their tremendous powers to evolve into the turbo-charged superhero Max Steel.


Stewart Hendler is an award-winning feature film and commercial director and a pioneer in narrative digital content Hendler’s projects also include the Emmy-nominated digital series Halo: Forward Unto Dawn. Produced with feature-level scope and visual effects, the 5-part action epic garnered over 55 million views winning both fan and critical acclaim. Winner of Best Drama Series, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Production Design at the Streamy awards, it is widely described as one of the most ambitious and successful new media series to date. Hendler also directed and executive produced H+, another digital series for Warner Brothers Entertainment and produced by Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2, The Usual Suspects) which won the Streamys for Best Sci-fi Series as well as the Best Director Award for Hendler. Between them, Halo and H+ garnered over 30 industry wins and nominations, acknowledging every aspect of their production from acting to visual effects to sound design. Previously, Hendler directed the studio features Whisper and Sorority Row, and is in development on several other projects. An acclaimed commercial director, Hendler’s list of high profile advertising clients includes Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Budweiser, Adidas, MTV, Toyota and Motorola, and his industry recognition includes an AICP Award for his work on Microsoft’s Zune brand. Hendler also recently produced episodes for History Channel’s Live to Tell series which was featured in’s Emmy watch-list.

We felt the timing was right to bring an exciting, modern-day superhero to the big screen,” says Julia Pistor, production veteran and co-producer of Max Steel.  “Mattel sees movies as a way of connecting audiences to their characters, so we set our trailblazing and innovative filmmaking team on a mission to carve a path within this genre.

“Max Steel has been a huge property and story from Mattel, and about four years ago the company decided to reinvent it for today’s generation,” adds Pistor.  “Out of that came the cartoon that’s currently on Disney Channel and Netflix, and now a full-length feature film which will be the first movie that Mattel has made since He Man in 1987.”

Screenwriter Christopher L. Yost says, “Mattel has been great in allowing us to open up the world, and Stewart and I had many long discussions about the vibe and tone of this movie and making it a very grounded and a real world thing.  Aliens and energy and giant monsters are very fantastical, but what’s the grounded version, what’s the real world version of that – it’s in the dialog and very naturalistic reactions.  The more human that Ben could portray, the more it made sense.”  (source:

“The opportunity to take an existing character and turn it into a live action feature is very exciting,” adds O’Dowd.  “Max Steel is an origin story and, while the film will have some parallel characters, it’s scripted as an event film geared toward audiences of all ages.  As Max is a teenager in the film, younger audiences can look up to him, while teenage audiences can directly relate to him.”

“We definitely wanted to keep it real,” shares Pistor.  “It’s an inspirational story because a real teenager is going through what real teenagers go through, but the difference is that he discovers that he’s half alien and has all these powers, which aren’t all good.  If he doesn’t keep his power in check, he can blow up the entire world.  So it’s scary and dangerous, and Max realizes that he has to spend the rest of his life with Steel who makes him the best he can be.”

Director Stewart Hendler has a history with Bill O’Dowd dating back to H+, a web series that Hendler directed for Dolphin Digital Media.

Julia Pistor, a self-proclaimed fan of Hendler’s gritty, tonally rich films, recognized that he could incorporate suspense, fear and anticipation into his films.  “This film is very much a mystery,” she says.  “It’s not just a fun family film that has the superhero element.  There’s a mystery that Max is uncovering and Stewart is masterful at creating mystery and setting a tone, but he’s also very funny.  We knew that he’d deliver the comedy as well.”

“We wanted Max Steel to be a real teenager, universal in his appeal with his first crush, moving to a new school, being raised by a single mom,” says O’Dowd.  “We wanted a film that would resonate with the audience no matter where they lived – Miami, Topeka, Rome or Caracas.  And Stewart’s take on how to tell Max’s story is from that viewpoint.  It’s not glossed over.  It’s not shiny.  It’s not something that looks like a typical superhero movie.  This is a real teenage boy, living in a real teenage world, who just happens to be a superhero.”

“We were trying to keep it as grounded as possible – a little rough around the edges to make it feel real,” says Hendler.

“The idea was always to show what would happen to a real teenager if he discovered that he had these powers and his legacy was so much more complex than he ever thought it could be.”

“You know,” Hendler continues, “there are so many different superhero stories out there, so we really wanted to try to do something that was a bit different, a bit more personal.  We’ve always said that we’re trying to be a superhero movie with the soul of a Sundance indie.  Like a Spectacular Now or like Friday Night Lights, something that is just about the emotions and reality of being a teenager, so that everything that comes later is sort of unexpected.”

Producers Bill O’Dowd and Julia Pistor were thrilled that Marvel vet Christopher L. Yost jumped at the chance to pen the script for Max Steel.

“What excited Chris about this project was that it was fresh,” says O’Dowd.  “He came out of a 10-year history with Marvel.  He’s written The Avengers animated series as well as Thor and Thor 3.  He’s got a rich history as well as a large following in the comic book world and in graphic novels.  We were so lucky to get somebody with his experience.”

Pistor adds, “From the beginning, I was excited to work with Dolphin, Mattel and Chris to develop a nimble story and character-driven film, and not let the visual effects and the whiz-bang of films get in the way of what we were trying to do.”