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|“||You're a hundred percent right, Jenna. I- I - wasn't thinking about those children. The important thing here is to get the medicine through and that's just what I'm gonna do. (turns to Balto) And when I get back, I'm gonna fold you five ways and leave you for a cat toy.||„|
|~ Steele telling Jenna that he intends to retrieve the medicine only for the glory.|
|“||Go ahead, wolf-dog! You'll never get home! I'll make sure of that!||„|
|~ Steele sabotaging Balto's trail to prevent him from returning (revealing he is willing to let the sick children die).|
Steele is the main antagonist of the animated 1995 Amblin Entertainment film Balto. He is an egotistical Alaskan Malamute with an extremely mean streak, taking excessive pride in his popularity amongst both the village humans and the dogs and liking to bully Balto over his part-wolf heritage. He is Balto's arch-nemesis.
He was voiced by Jim Cummings, who also played Fuzzy Lumpkins in The Powerpuff Girls, Pete in Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons, Nessus in Disney's Hercules, Long John Silver in The Pagemaster, Ed in Disney's The Lion King, Hernán Cortés in El Dorado, the Medicine Man in Young Pocahontas, Razoul in Disney's Aladdin, Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog SATAM, Lord Boxman in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, Sierra in The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire, the Bears in Sing and Hadrian in Minecraft: Story Mode.
Steele is a very sneaky, sarcastic and manipulative dog who represents everything that Balto despises. His hatred for Balto is made out of pure jealousy (as Balto beat him to the finish line) as well as fear of losing his fame.
He also likes Jenna, but she sees through his lies and loves the pure-hearted Balto instead, which further strengthens Steele's hatred and jealousy towards Balto. But unlike Balto, Steele objectives Jenna as he doesn't care if Jenna is in the mood and also being a pervert whenever no one's watching him as he also forces Jenna to do what he wants and not caring about her feelings.
Underneath the exterior of a standard jerk and bully, however, he is shown to be completely heartless and utterly callous, as proven when Balto came to help, he instead attacks him savagely and keeps him from even taking the medicine, not caring that children needed it desperately. And finally, when Balto becomes the leader of his sled team, Steele proves his lack of empathy for the children by making the sled team lose their way back to the village. Both of those things prove him to be a true villain. His sanity slippage during the blizzard didn't help matters as his fear of losing his fame ended up twisting his mind.
He is also a crafty, scheming and mendacious liar, claiming that Balto and the rest of the team had died and at the end of the film; the undoing of his lies causes him to be shunned and hated by those who used to respect him. In addition, he was willing to cheat in order to win. Even when his former followers find out about his lies, he tries to justify his lies and regain their respect, to obviously no avail.
Steele had no chance of going back on the sled team, for it is possible that Balto had replaced him since the latter beat Steele at the finish line; plus, because of his actions, all of the other dogs turned their backs on Steele at the climax.
Steele was the lead dog on the best dog racing team in Nome; he first encountered Balto (in the movie, Steele's behavior towards Balto is an obvious indication that they have met on prior occasions) after being defeated by the latter in a race while rescuing Rosy's hat.
Steele's behavior became much worse when Jenna starts to fall in love with Balto - as well as the fact Balto is faster, smarter and stronger than Steele.
Out of jealousy, Steele felt Balto was a threat so he bullied Balto. When the town became sick, there was a relay race to choose who would be on the sled dog team that would relay the medicine.
After successfully sabotaging Balto's attempts to enter the team of huskies that would deliver medicine to the village following a blizzard and an outbreak of illness, Steele became lost but refused to admit it, ultimately knocking out his master when he caused the sleigh to swerve uncontrollably in the snow, leaving him and his pack alone in the blizzard with no hope of returning home.
However, when Balto sought the team out and offered his aid, the arrogant Steele had gone insane due to the ferocity of the blizzard; instead of being grateful, he became enraged and had a brief confrontation with Balto who refused to fight him.
During this fight, Steele viciously grabbed Balto by the bandanna Jenna lent him earlier. When the bandanna came loose, Steele lost his balance and fell off a steep cliff, but he managed to survive. As he climbed back up to see Balto leading the sled team away, Steele vowed to stop them from getting home. Then, in an act of villainy, Steele deliberately tampered with the markings Balto had left on the trees so that they would not find their way back, proving he didn't care that the children would die without the medicine.
Steele returned to the village claiming innocence, saying that Balto was to blame for the "accident". Jenna saw straight through his lies, but the other dogs saw him as a hero.
That was, until Balto embraced his wolf heritage and was able to smell the trees that he marked and he and his team eventually arrived back in the village with the medicine, much to Steele's surprise and horror.
Therefore, Steele is left as a hated outcast when the other dogs realized the truth, knowing they'd been double-crossed and turned against him. Dixie, Steele's biggest fan dog, calls him "positively...disposable!" and slaps him in the face. He nervously tries to explain, but the other dogs won't have any of it and angrily leave, slamming the boiler room door in the contemptible Malamute's face and telling him to "get lost". He finally loses the respect he never deserved while Balto was hailed as a hero.
It is unknown what became of Steele after the events of the film, for he was never seen or mentioned in the sequels, Wolf Quest or Wings of Change. It can be assumed that he either froze or starved to death from being stranded.
- Steele was originally going to be voiced by Brendan Fraser, but a last minute change meant that Jim Cummings would voice him instead.
- Phil Weinstein explained that in the original script for Wings of Change, Steele would be one of the volunteers who would help Balto on his search for Duke.
- Although he does not appear in any of the sequels, the character Niju is based on him.
- There has been an alternate deleted scene where Steele was originally going to die by hanging himself with his collar, but was scrapped due to how dark it is. Steele refused to give up the golden collar to Balto (which didn't appear in the film) and attack him in anger. After doing so, the other dogs, including the sled team, Nikki, Kaltag and Star turned on him to protect Balto. Steele tries to attack Balto once more, but Star warns Balto to look out allowing him to duck, Steele missed him and ends up getting his collar caught on a lever that opens a coal hatch beneath him. Steele ends up being hanging for a while, slipping out of his collar and falls down the hatch and ends up being buried alive in coal as Balto and the others looked in horror. This scene probably happened between the first and second film, which would explain why he never appeared in the sequels.
- Steele is mistakenly thought to be a mix between a malamute and a husky (due to his blue eyes and malamutes have brown). This is not true; According to the filmmakers, Steele is a purebred malamute who has pale blue eyes to reflect his evil and deceptive nature.
- In Nostalgia Critic's review of Balto, the Critic makes several jokes about how Steele never seems to make a facial expression that doesn't cement him as a blatantly obvious villain, even commenting that "It's like he has ten different expressions and they all eat children." Later, when Steele lies about Balto trying to sabotage the medicine retrieval, the Critic comments, "Wow, he's such an obvious, yet evil liar that he should probably be working in the White House."
- The video then cuts to a parody animation of Steele, called "Steele Spicer", as the press secretary, in an obvious parody of Sean Spicer, telling blatant lies about the medicine retrieval and how his dogsled race had the most viewers out of every dogsled race in history. When questioned, Steele tells the man talking to him that his eyes are wrong and that it is an "Alternative Bark", which a spoof of the term, "Alternative Fact". Then he is called Melissa (a reference to how Melissa McCarthy played Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live), but Steele Spicer gets angry and shouts at him to not call him that.
- Steele is widely considered to be one of most hateable and ruthless villains alongside Sharptooth from The Land Before Time and Botticelli Remorso from The Tale of Despereaux in the Universal animated franchise.
- In the Japanese dub, Steele is voiced Isao Sasaki, who is known for singing many retro anime and tokusatsu openings such as Daiku Maryu Gaiking, UFO Grendizer and Kamen Rider.
- Some fans speculate that Steele is a much more evil version of Togo, a real life dog who was lead dog in most of the 1925 serum run. Yet in real life, Balto received majority of the credit despite only running the final 55 mile run to Nome, Alaska.