It’s a good time to be a superhero. With comic book films like The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman vs. Superman among the most anticipated releases in recent memory, it seems that studios are eager to get as many costumed heroes as possible into theaters in the next couple of years. However, despite the boom led by the likes of DC and Marvel, not all super-powered crusaders have had an easy road to the big screen.

The prospect of a Max Steel film – based on the multi-platform franchise created in 1999 by Mattel – first came about years ago, when Twilight star Taylor Lautner was up for the lead role. The actor ultimately passed in favor of the title role in another toy-based film, Stretch Armstrong (a project which itself has faded), and Mattel  subsequently announced a collaboration with Dolphin Films to bring Max Steel to theaters as early as this year.

While it doesn’t look like the film will make a 2014 release at this point, Max Steel has managed to secure its two leads. Ben Winchell – who has appeared in teen-friendly TV movies like ABC Family’s Teen Spirit and MTV’s My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 3 – will play Max McGrath, the young man who ultimately transforms into the superhero known as Max Steel. Meanwhile, Ana Villafañe will play Sydney Gardner, a friend and ally of Max who harbors romantic feelings for him.

The casting of relative unknowns is an interesting choice for the studio, as it may indicate that the film is targeting more of a niche audience than previously expected. Since the majority of moviegoers are likely unfamiliar with the Max Steel brand, casting a more established actor in the title role would have drawn in audiences beyond the existing fanbase and essentially established an instant extension of the franchise. In the case of Lautner, for example, Twilight fans would have flocked to see the Max Steel film.

On the other hand, the fact that the film is starring a more obscure actor like Winchell could also mean that the creative team – led by director Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row, H+) and screenwriter Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World) – have enough faith in the material to draw in casual moviegoers as well as young fans of the Max Steel franchise.

Does the casting of Winchell and Villafañe give you faith in the Max Steel film, or is the project heading down the wrong path? Let us know in the comments section below.

Max Steel is now expected to hit theaters sometime in 2015.

Source: Dolphin Films