Hasbro has essentially been running the table on big-screen adaptations of toys for the last 15 years or so, but its competitors over at Mattel have been quietly putting some plans together lately. There’s the new Barbie movie that has been in the works for years, with Margot Robbie now attached to star and Greta Gerwig(!) and Noah Baumbach(!) set to write the screenplay (we’re still not convinced that any of that is true), and in February we heard about Lil Yachty starring in an “action heist comedy” based on UNO (which also doesn’t make a lot of sense but we’re willing to roll with it). Now, Mattel seems to have landed on a much more straightforward movie pitch, with Variety reporting Vin Diesel is going to star in a live-action movie for Mattel and Universal based on Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots—the classic game about hammering on a little button until you either knock your opponent’s head off or break the game and then start to cry.
The movie will be about a father and son who “form an unlikely bond with an advanced war machine,” and before you try to argue that this all sounds a whole lot like the plot of the 2011 Hugh Jackman film Real Steel, we have a counterpoint: Nobody remembers Real Steel, so nobody will notice or care if this is the exact same movie. (That one was explicitly about boxing and this one seems like it’s more of a Harry And The Hendersons-type story about an unusual family friend, but sure, they’re both about robots that punch.) Also, just to cut you off before you make any other jokes, Diesel will be playing the father and not the robot. He did play a robot once and was very good at it, and his name sounds like it would be the name of a robot, but he’s playing a human man with a son.
If you want to make jokes, let’s talk about Diesel’s statement on this announcement, in which he talks about how excited he is to combine a classic game with “the kind of world-building, franchise-making success we have had with Universal.” This is a man who lives for sequels and spin-offs, and it must be killing him that Bloodshot was a flop. But we can all forget about that, because here comes an exciting new film franchise called Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots!