John Henry fought the machine and won. What I'm fightin' is a deadlier kind of machine -- one I helped put in motion. One I'm gonna stop -- even if it kills me.
~ Steel.
I wonder... maybe that's the mark of a superhero: Not the incredible powers or saving the day, but the effect you have on other people. Inspiring them to keep trying... and inspiring them to never give up.
~ Prime-Earth Steel.

Steel (real name John Henry Irons) is a fictional superhero in the DC comics and universe. Irons was as wealthy scientist and engineer who destroyed his models of weapons after seeing them used by a terrorist cell. After Superman's death by Doomsday, Irons built a powerful suit of armor to fill in the hole that was help by his death. Superman eventually returned, but Steel continued to be a hero and became a close ally of the Man of Steel.

He was created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove, and first appeared in The Adventures of Superman #500.


Early Life

John Henry Irons was born in Washington, D.C. to unnamed parents, and is the brother to Clay Irons. John's parents were murdered when he was young, and felt that the only way to protect his family was to become a rich and powerful man. After high school, Irons went to Yale on a sports scholarship before getting hired by Amertek Industries. Irons enjoyed his success and designed countless hi-tech weapons for the Amertek and for a contractor with government ties.

Irons was convinced he was doing good, and helped his family by giving them money. When a series of BG-60s were leaked to a terrorist cell in Qurac, Irons flew over there and was horrified of what his weapons did. He returned home and destroyed all of the remaining prototypes and attempted to delete all information of the BG-80, a more powerful prototype. Afterward, Irons went into hiding in Metropolis, and got a job as a steelworker under the alias Henry Johnson.

Becoming Steel

One day, a coworker on a high-rise fell and Henry attempted to save him, but Superman saved him after Irons failed to catch him. Irons told Superman he owed him his life, and Superman replied by telling him he should make it count for something. Not long after, Doomsday came an destroyed most of Metropolis, and Irons attempted to reach Superman, but was buried in a collapsing building. Irons felt the loss of Superman along wit the world, and after learning his weapons were being used by gangs on the streets, decided to create a suit of armor and defeated them.

Irons learned the source of the weapons was White Rabbit, and a neighbor of his named Rosie Kratz insisted that this new "Man of Steel" was Superman, or at least him in a new body. However, there were three "Supermen" in Metropolis who claimed to be the real superhero, and hand stronger claims than Irons himself. Later on, Steel rejected an offer of employment by Lex Luthor, and also saved Lois Lane in a manner that was reminiscent of how she met Superman.


Steel continued his heroics, but unlike the other imposters who called themselves "Superman", he insisted that he was not the actual Man of Steel. Irons also rebuked Superboy for being too reckless, and continued his search on the White Rabbit. Irons feared that it was hold partner, Angora, who helped him design the weapons, and when he refused to become a partner of White Rabbit, blasted him out a window. As he attempted to track down White Rabbit, Steel encountered the Eradicator, who called himself the "Last Son of Krypton", who killed a thug who pointed a gun at Steel.

Irons criticized the Eradicator and told him that he couldn't be the real Superman, and the two engaged in battle. Lois arrived and was able to pull them apart, and the Eradicator learned that Superboy managed to secure the rights to the name "Superman". The Eradicator became enraged and battled Steel once again in California, but the latter was able to cause a standstill, and yelled that Superman was more than having power, but having humanity and compassion.

Afterward, Irons got a lift back to Metropolis and was ambushed by White Rabbit, and battled her and her thugs. Steel forced her to take him to her manufacturing plant, and she attempted another ambush, but he broke free. The plant was destroyed and the White Rabbit was seemingly killed, but Irons knew it was the last of the Toastmasters.



  • In the titular 1997 film Steel, he was portrayed by Shaquille O'Neal, who also played Kazaam in the titular film.
  • In Justice League: Gods and Monsters, he was voiced by Khary Payton, who voices Cyborg in numerous media, plays Ezekiel in The Walking Dead, and also voiced Aqualad in Young Justice, Sticky Joe in Teen Titans Go!, Zack in Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2, Azrael in Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Knight, Knox in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
    • Payton reprised his voice for the character in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.
  • In The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen, he was voiced by Cress Williams, who portrays Black Lightning in the titular CW series.


  • In Superman: The Animated Series, he was voiced by Michael Dorn, who also played Worf in the Stark Trek series.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, he was voiced by Phil LaMarr, who voices Kotal Kahn in the Mortal Kombat series, and also voiced Samurai Jack in the titular animated series, and Static in Static Shock.
  • In Young Justice: Outsiders, he was voiced Zeno Robinson.

Video Games

  • In Superman: The Man of Steel, he was voiced by Billy Brown, who also voiced Cliffjumper in Transformers: Prime.
  • In DC Universe Online, he was voiced by Ken Thomas.



  • He is similar to Iron Man from Marvel Comics:
    • Both are armored superheroes.
    • Both are genius scientists and are wealthy.
    • Both lost both of their parents when they were young.
    • Both were horrified at what their weapons could do in the wrong hands.



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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman | Superman | Wonder Woman | Alfred Pennyworth | Lois Lane | Calvin Swanwick | The Flash | Aquaman | Cyborg

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The Death Of Superman: Superman | Lois Lane | Justice League (Batman, Aquaman, Cyborg, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, & Wonder Woman) | Jimmy Olsen
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Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice League (Superman | Batman | Wonder Woman | The Flash | Cyborg | Aquaman) | Alfred Pennyworth | James Gordon | Mera | Lois Lane | Hippolyta | Nuidis Vulko | Martian Manhunter | Zeus | Artemis | Green Lantern Corps

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