Captain America

Captain America 1979

There are only a small handful of Marvel movies that I have yet to watch, and they all happen to fall within the realm of the dark days of Marvel in the late 70’s when they first started shopping their properties around to other live action studios in order to make TV shows and TV movies. One of the first ones was the famous Incredible Hulk TV show with Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk and Bill Bixby as David Banner, and just one year after that came out, there was this attempt at turning Captain America into a similar television property just one year after a full slate of superhero television properties like the Six Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and the Incredible Hulk. It started out with this introductory TV movie which aired in January and followed with a sequel that aired in two parts in November. Even though it’s called Captain America it barely resembled anything close to the Marvel comic, and changed nearly everything about his origin in order to help fit within a limited television budget. Not only that, but it barely made for an interesting TV movie regardless.

Captain America

As far as this Captain America’s origin story goes, Steve Rogers is possibly some type of ex-military, it’s never really clear. He has decided to take his van and his dirt bike and live on the road for a couple years, but before he leaves, he has several calls from a couple different scientists that want to talk to him, one of them sounds like he wants to have a homosexual rendezvous with Rogers. Here’s a few choice quotes from their brief conversation: “It’s good to hear your voice again… I’ve got a secret Steve, can you come over to the house? … I’m going to be stuck here till later tonight, can you come over at 9?”, “You need me, you’ve got me”, and the other scientist ends up giving him a hard sell on his father’s FLAG serum. Along the way, some random scientists kill the second friend, and try to kill Rogers twice, the second time they are almost successful so he is given the FLAG serum as a last resort. In return, his friend repairs and upgrades his van and dirt bike into a very similar looking van and a red, white, and blue dirt bike complete with both rocket and jet assist, and a silent mode so the audience doesn’t have to listen to the dirt bike whine of the motor.

One of the biggest problems with this film is the pacing, there are long stretches of absolutely nothing happening on screen. About halfway through, when Rogers is given his shiny new bike, he literally spends a good five minutes just riding along this dirt road before a helicopter finally comes by out of nowhere to chase him until he is able to ride up this conveniently placed wooden stunt ramp so he can climb into the helicopter and toss out the two guys inside for the MP to pick up. He doesn’t even get his full Captain America costume until over an hour into the hour and a half run time. He never even really gets the chance to fight anyone, his action scenes consist of slipping around on an oiled road in his van, jumping into the helicopter on his bike, and bending a semi exhaust pipe to almost kill the main villain of the film.

Which brings us to the actual villain of the movie. He’s a typical warmonger scientist bent on getting the tech for a neutron bomb which he will then test in wherever it is that they are and the sell it to the highest bidder. But for some reason, there’s mention of setting the bomb off minutes before they lock down their own radiation protection for some reason, and they even equip a dead man’s switch on the guy who also rides inside the back of the truck right next to the bomb itself. It’s completely insane.

Just look at those puppydog eyes, too bad it's his default & only expression.

Just look at those puppydog eyes, too bad it’s his default & only expression.

As far as Reb Brown himself as the titular hero also known as Steve Rogers, he begins the movie almost as muscular as Lou Ferrigno was in the Incredible Hulk series, though he never gets the chance to rip off his shirt to show off his muscles. He sports a curly, blonde head of hair and a vaguely southern accent which does give him an easy likability, but he never cuts it as any sort of action hero. He generally just stumbles through the mystery aspects, and half of the fighting scenes have him spending much more time avoiding the random security guards rather than ever meeting them head on. There’s also an audio cue whenever he uses his FLAG assisted powers, which also includes moments where he uses his “super” hearing and vision. His costume is the most laughable part of the entire movie, it’s a red, white, and blue spandex suit with an oversized blue motorcycle helmet with a weird bubble eye shield but no mask, even though it’s supposed to hide his identity somehow. And his shield is an extremely flimsy looking clear plastic shield that hooks onto the front of his bike. All in all, it’s just completely ridiculous and rather boring and never once feels like an actual Captain America movie, instead it feels more like a cross between the Incredible Hulk TV show and an episode of Murder, She Wrote. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on July 21, 2015, in Pre-80's movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Reb Brown is such a cult figure while his see through shield is so laughable, I couldn’t believe that this film got sequel “Captain American 2: Death Too Soon” starring Christopher Lee no less!!

  2. This being one of the reasons I swore off comic superhero anything on TV for a while. Almost too painful to watch.

  3. I need to bone up on my 70s Marvel Superhero television shows. I knew about the Hulk, but never heard of this one. It kind of reminds me of the Greatest American Hero.

    • There was also a Doctor Strange TV film and a short lived live-action Spider-Man show right around the same time. Hulk was the only one that actually became successful.

  4. Haha…hilarious! I knew about these 70s Cap films but didn’t realise how bad they are! How do these compare to the 1990s film? Haven’t seen that since I was a kid, I loved it back then but I’ve got a feeling if I saw it now I’d probably laugh and cringe. Ah well, at least we have The First Avenger and Winter Soldier now!

    • I enjoyed the 90 film. It was cheesy and low budget, but they at least attempted to make a Captain America film. I don’t know what they were trying to do with these.

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