Awfully Good: 1979's Captain America and Captain America II (Video)
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR has some big shoes to fill if it wants to live up to...
Captain America (1979)
Director: Rod Holcomb
Stars: Reb Brown, Len Birman, Heather Menzies-Urich
Fledgling artist Steve Rogers and his Street Van of Justice™ are the only things standing in the way of America receiving the business end of a neutron bomb.
Marvel had an interesting run with television in the late 1970s, finding success with Lou Ferigno in The Incredible Hulk and laughable failure with The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Ninjas. (They also made a Doctor Strange pilot with Lucille Bluth that never made it to air.) However, the company's most embarrassing blemish is allowing this 1979 made-for-TV film to sully the good name of Steve Rogers. If you thought the 1990 CAPTAIN AMERICA movie was goofy, this version might as well be best friends with Mickey Mouse.
The fight was over as soon as Cap discovered Tony Stark's one weakness—raw sewage.
This adaptation of Cap features the Steve Rogers you know and love… you know, the version where he's an already-ripped motocross racer who spends his time driving around the country in his sweet van trying to be an artist. He still gets the super serum, but this time it comes from his deceased father, who secretly developed "the ultimate steroid" called F.L.A.G.—Full Latent Ability Gain—easily the most forced acronym of all time. To make this even more ridiculous, the title character is played by Reb Brown aka Slab Bulkhead, Fridge Largemeat, Thick McRunfast, Flint Ironstag and Big McLargeHuge from Awfully Good favorite SPACE MUTINY. Brown has the superhero size and All-American look down, but he is alarmingly uncharismatic as Captain America, so bland you almost forget he's the star. It's like watching a background extra fumble his way in to the lead role when the actual actor didn't show up.
"Captain America? Please, my friends call me Captain Beefcake."
To really please the fans, the movie also reveals that Steve Rogers isn't the first person to don the patriotic shield. It turns out that Papa Rogers tested F.L.A.G. on himself, worked as a super soldier operative for the government, and called himself Captain America. And since he based the serum on adrenaline taken from his own glands, F.L.A.G. will kill anyone who doesn't share his same cellular structure. You can guess where this is going… A government agent attempts to recruit Steve to take over for his daddy, but all the young Rogers wants to do is drive around in his shaggin' wagon and draw things. Thankfully for our national security, some bad guys decide to force his hand. After a failed attempt to stage a car crash by dumping oil on the road, the villains succeed in killing Steve by…again causing a car accident. In order to save Steve's life, the government has no choice but to inject him with his father's goo.
When no vibranium could be found for Cap's shield, plastic was definitely the next best choice.
In a Shyamalan-style twist, it turns out the aforementioned bad guys who nefariously dumped oil on the road actually work for… the oil company. For some reason this movie's plot revolves around an oil conglomerate who is trying to track down a microfilm so they can build a neutron bomb so they can detonate it in public so they can steal a billion dollars. It makes sense if you literally don't think about it. Eventually said bad guys succeed in getting the microfilm and kidnapping the only two women in the movie (of course). Rogers and the government have no clue where they, meaning the villains actually completely got away with their plan. So of course the main antagonist decides to contact Captain America via a traceable phone call and demand that he not come to rescue the hostages.
In order for him to infiltrate the bad guy's hideout undetected, the government gives Captain America a brilliant disguise—a flamboyantly bright red, white, and blue track suit with matching helmet. Cap's costume is probably the funniest thing about this movie. I dare you not to burst out laughing every time poor Reb Brown has to engage in any sort of action scene or strike a heroic pose in an outfit that somehow looks worse than a child's costume. He also gets his "deadly" shield, which gingerly floats through the sky like a tired Frisbee. His boss also tricks out Steve's already awesome van, giving it what every great van desperately needs—a built-in rocket-propelled motorcycle that takes up the entire back of the vehicle. While the bike perfectly compliments Cap's outfit, the best part of our hero's new setup is the fact that when he launches his motorcycle out of the van, the vehicle's back doors stay wide open, leaving a car full of high tech gadgets and weapons completely vulnerable to anyone walking by.
At least this version preserved the palpable sexual tension between Cap and Bucky.
As bad as it is, there is a kitschy charm to CAPTAIN AMERICA, from the romantic interest, who shares all of one scene with Steve before they're making out on the beach, to the amazing score that goes from fist-pumping patriotic to low-grade porno. (There's a scene where the bad guys lead a tied-up Rogers in to a warehouse with music that makes it sound like they're taking him to a Greek orgy.) However, the complete lack of any sort of exciting action is the most remarkable part of this superhero adaptaion. There's a brief fight in a meat locker where Steve pushes sides of beef at bad guys, a slow moving motorcycle-helicopter chase, and a scene where a smiling Captain America awkwardly squirts oil at a bunch of security guards. That's about it. The "exciting" finale involves a scenic helicopter tour of the California highway and Captain America bending a truck's exhaust pipe so it fills the vehicle with fumes, causing everyone to pass out. We're then treated to five minutes of the audience and Captain America receiving a detailed lesson in CPR so they can keep the bad guy alive. It's probably the most anti-climactic conclusion to any story ever.
An enjoyable combination of poor acting and bad writing.
Enjoy some of Cap's most "exciting" action scenes, as well as an example of the porno-riffic score.
Enjoy Big McLargeHuge's manly chest!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- The score is groovy
- Steve Rogers is shown or mentions being an artist
- Captain America's motorcycle launches out of the van
- Captain America ditches his one-of-a-kind motorcycle
- The government divulges our nation's top secrets to civilian Steve Rogers
- Someone or something slips in oil
Double shot if:
- There is a conveniently-placed ramp
Now that you're all caught up on CAPTAIN AMERICA (1979), let's jump right into the sequel with CAPTAIN AMERICA II: DEATH TOO SOON in this week's Awfully Good Movies video edition!