Years after the film wrapped production in 2014, Max Steel fans were delighted to see something — anything — about the movie when an international trailer dropped online last week, even if the preview may have been bizarrely edited. Now Yahoo Movies has the much slicker, more cohesive first official U.S. trailer for the film, which you can watch exclusively above.
Based on the popular Mattel toy line, the Stewart Hendler-directed action-sci-fi film stars breakout actor Ben Winchell (Finding Carter) as Max McGrath, a teenager who moves back to the small town where his late father was a respected scientist. There, toying around with his dad’s research, Max’s body is hit with uncontrollable bursts of energy, and he also takes on an extraterrestrial sidekick Steel (voiced by Silicon Valley‘s Josh Brener). Together, the pair form the super-suited superhero Max Steel. In honor of the film’s trailer premiere, we checked in with Hendler for the deal on Steel.
I remember we debuted first-look photos from the film way back in 2014, which begs the most obvious question first: What took so long?
I wish it was something sexy and interesting, but it really just comes down to paperwork and release date. It just took a second for them to figure out what date they wanted it on, and find the perfect window for it. It’s Mattel’s first movie, and [the movie’s distributor] Open Road is new, so the handshake took a minute. But now it’s onward and release-ward.
How would you describe the film’s tone?
It’s a family, coming-of-age superhero movie with some comedy elements. One of the things that I really love about the movie is the relationship between Max and Steel, the little floating alien dude. It has a buddy comedy vibe to it. And that’s my favorite part of the film, the heart and the banter of the film. But ultimately it’s an origin story for this Mattel brand that is about a superhero that is literally the combination of an alien and a teenager. So we explain the roots of that.
What age groups are you going for?
I would say that the sweet spot age group is between 8 and 14. It’s kind of like a big brother, little brother, mom and dad kind of thing. We want to be something for the family to see. It won’t be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m sitting through this super-young movie just for my kids.’ It will be entertaining for everyone.
What are the biggest challenges in adapting an action figure line into a feature film? Obviously you’re going to have a blanker slate than a comic book or a novel.
I think the challenge is to serve the fans of the brand and be accessible to people who know zero about it. So I think the tightrope that you walk is just trying to make something that’s fun regardless of whether you’ve ever heard of Max Steel or not. But also, if you’re someone who grew up on it and watched the cartoons… there will be inside jokes and Easter eggs and stuff for you to catch.
Ben Winchell is still a relatively unknown actor. What can we expect from him in the lead?
I think he is so great. I’ve been more bummed for him than anyone in terms of how long it’s taken for this thing to happen, just because I think his performance is super-stellar. He spent the whole shoot literally talking to thin air, since the [Steel] character is CG. That’s not the easiest acting thing to do on your first big movie.
Max Steel, which also stars Maria Bello and Andy Garcia and was written by Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World), opens Oct. 14.