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SYFY WIRE Original Video

Kazaam, Steel, Shaq Fu!: When Shaquille O'Neal ruled the world


Even if you've never watched a game of professional basketball, chances are good that you've seen Shaquille O'Neal. Even after nearly a decade since he retired from the NBA, Shaq is everywhere. He's a TV pitchman, an NBA analyst, an occasional actor, an entrepreneur, and even the star of his own video game.

But back in the '90s, Shaq's popularity was in the stratosphere. The big guy might be the first to admit that he hasn't always been the best actor. However, Shaq had, and still has, a magnetic personality and a ton of charisma. His smile is infectious, and he's a genuinely funny guy. That's why Shaq was also a movie star at the height of his popularity. He even beat Will Smith to the punch by 23 years when he played a genie in Kazaam. Keep in mind, that was only the second film role that Shaq ever appeared in! And yet he carried that movie on his massive shoulders.

Shaq was also ahead of the curve in 1997 when he headlined the superhero movie Steel. He played John Henry Irons, a genius who reinvents himself as an armored hero. In the DC comics, Steel was inspired by Superman, a character that Shaq openly admires with a Superman "S" tattooed on his arm. Steel may not have been the apex of superhero movies, but it arrived in theaters well before its time.

However, the greatest example of Shaq's undeniable crossover appeal was the video game fighter Shaq Fu, which hit multiple systems in 1994. There's something inherently funny about putting Shaq in a Street Fighter 2-like game. A modern remake of the game was even released last year as Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.

For more memories about Shaq's contributions to pop culture over a few Shaq Fu battles, check out SYFY WIRE's new video, When Shaq Ruled the World!