In an article about Iron Giant and his appearance in 'MultiVersus', an illustration of Iron Giant standing next to Superman
Illustration by Alyssa Tarry, University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design

The Inclusion of the Iron Giant in MultiVersus Is a Good Thing

It’s time to bring this animation legend back into the spotlight, despite the concerns of long-time fans about his new role.

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In an article about Iron Giant and his appearance in 'MultiVersus', an illustration of Iron Giant standing next to Superman
Illustration by Alyssa Tarry, University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design

It’s time to bring this animation legend back into the spotlight, despite the concerns of long-time fans about his new role.

On May 16, a new cinematic trailer was released for MultiVersus, a fighting game starring characters from Warner Bros. properties such as “Scooby-Doo,” DC Comics and “Steven Universe,” among others. Alongside the Tasmanian Devil from “Looney Tunes,” the trailer also unveiled the Iron Giant from the film of the same name as a playable combatant. The reveal has sparked controversy due to the anti-violence message of “The Iron Giant,” with many worried that the Giant getting into fights dilutes the themes of the film. However, the Iron Giant’s inclusion in MultiVersus is poised to do more good than bad.

“The Iron Giant” is a 1999 animated film about a giant mechanical man who crash-lands off the coast of Rockwell, Maine. After befriending a young boy named Hogarth, the Giant slowly begins to understand humanity, including concepts like death and the soul. In the film’s famous climactic scene, the Iron Giant flies into the sky to intercept a nuke that was launched at Rockwell. Remembering Hogarth’s words, “You are who you choose to be,” the Giant whispers “Superman” to himself as he collides with the missile, saving the town at the cost of himself.

The anti-violence message is core to “The Iron Giant.” Director Brad Bird said in a SPLICEDwire interview that the film was based around the pitch of “What if a gun had a soul and didn’t want to be a gun?” While the Giant was designed as a weapon, showcased when he goes on a rampage against the military, he rejects his pre-made role, stating multiple times, “I am not a gun.” His experiences with Hogarth teach him that he can be the person he chooses to be, ultimately deciding to emulate Superman after Hogarth explains that Superman is a hero who protects people.

Many are understandably hesitant about including the Iron Giant in a game where his sole purpose is to fight. Several posts were made on Twitter mocking and deriding Warner Bros. for missing the point of their own movie. These concerns also drew comparisons to the Giant’s controversial appearance in “Ready Player One,” where the climax of the film sees a player controlling an avatar based on the Iron Giant doing battle with a player controlling Mechagodzilla.

While these concerns are valid, the Iron Giant’s inclusion is no cause for concern. MultiVersus divides its characters into classes, such as Assassins, Bruisers, and Mages. The Iron Giant is classified as a Tank, a class more focused on defending its teammates from harm than dealing direct damage. Compared to “Ready Player One,” where the Iron Giant is depicted as nothing more than a weapon to be used in battle, MultiVersus seems poised to emphasize the Giant as a protector.

One of the other Tanks in MultiVersus is Superman, the Giant’s hero and idol. The Giant’s admiration for Superman, formed after he reads Hogarth’s comic books, is important in the film. It tells the audience about his ideals and morals by comparing the Giant to a popular cultural figure. Most people know that Superman believes in truth, justice and the American way, but he’s also not above resorting to violence when necessary. If the Iron Giant wants to be like Superman, it makes sense that he’s not above using violence if he deems it necessary. Being anti-violence doesn’t necessarily make him a complete pacifist.

To emphasize this, the cinematic trailer shows Superman and the Iron Giant teaming up together when flying into the ongoing brawl. Given that the Iron Giant is a fan of Superman, it makes sense that he would follow his hero into battle. This moment in the trailer has been highly praised, bringing fans of the movie right back to when the Giant originally sacrificed himself. Getting to see the Iron Giant team up with other classic heroes and pop culture icons in a non-canon universe is an exciting prospect, showing audiences more sides to his character without altering the original film.

The MultiVersus team is committed to portraying these characters in the most faithful light possible. Initial impressions of the game have been largely positive, with emphasis given to the moves and abilities of the various characters. Each character has special properties to showcase their abilities, like Wonder Woman roping in enemies and allies with her Lasso of Truth. It can be expected that the Iron Giant will be portrayed with similar care and thought. Game director Tony Huynh has said the Giant will be a “colossus-sized” character, twice as large as the other fighters, which already promises a faithful portrayal.

Ultimately, the ability to play as the Iron Giant in MultiVersus doesn’t conflict or even diminish the themes of the film. Instead of a potentially lethal conflict with the United States military like in the movie, the fighting in MultiVersus is nothing more than a lighthearted brawl. Superman would never beat up Velma from “Scooby-Doo,” but the audience can accept that this is light sparring for fun, not a life-or-death conflict. The Iron Giant is opposed to killing, but there’s nothing saying he wouldn’t be willing to spar with his friends.

Additionally, the Giant’s inclusion in MultiVersus could introduce a new generation to the classic film. “The Iron Giant” is more than two decades old, and most teenagers and children alive today likely aren’t familiar with it. Including the Giant in a popular fighting game that boasts modern icons like Steven Universe or Arya Stark from “Game of Thrones” could reintroduce him and the film to a modern audience. Given that “The Iron Giant” is such a classic, beloved film, any effort to put it in the spotlight today is a good thing.

It’s understandable why so many are hesitant about a beloved character from a renowned film being used like this. Coming off derided attempts at mashing together Warner Bros. properties like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Ready Player One,” it’s easy to think of his inclusion as cheap pandering to nostalgia. However, the potential for MultiVersus to reintroduce this character to a wide audience while portraying him in a respectful, thoughtful way is too big to ignore.

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Christian Simon

Kutztown University
Professional Writing

Professional writer, born and raised Philadelphian, recovering ex-League of Legends player, and all-around chill guy.

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