Much like his fellow Marvel Avengers, the upcoming Captain America film is not the first time that the titular hero has seen celluloid. In fact, the star-spangled superhero has appeared in not just one, but two made-for-tv films: Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon, both of which aired in 1979. Both starring actor Reb Brown as the title hero, these films took some pretty decade-specific (and awful) liberties with the character, his costume, and even his origin (a modern day marine/artist who gets into an accident and injected with an experimental chemical– WTF?!).
As embarrassing as both of those films may be, however, that didn’t stop Marvel and 21st Century Films from trying once again in the early 90s with director Albert Pyun (Cyborg). This time Matt Salinger (Revenge of the Nerds) plays a much more traditional Captain America (frozen time capsule and all) with Scott Paulin in tow as the villainous and effectively creepy-looking Red Skull. The story was also pretty familiar territory as Captain America awoke to find the Skull threatening the good, ole U.S.A. with nuclear destruction.
Like many of the other 90s era Marvel movies (The Punisher, Fantastic Four), Captain America sort of set the stage for future comic book adaptations (at least as a manual for what not to do), yet it has remained somewhat of a secret which is a real shame because the film isn’t all bad (though it’s far from great either). Granted, it does suffer from a B-movie cast, a limited budget, and cheesy dialogue, but it’s far from the worse comic book adaptation ever made (just ask fans of the recently released Green Lantern).
It’s always interesting to compare movies from different decades and Captain America is no different. It’s pretty hard to take the original serious for the same reason that the original Fantastic Four failed: costuming. Salinger’s Captain just looks he just walked off the set of a kid’s cartoon show with his brightly colored spandex/foam suit and plastic shield. On the flip side, I rather like Paulin’s Skull whose got more of a skinned face than a red skull, but it nonetheless pretty disturbing.
Apparently, a newly remastered Director’s Cut of the film is due out this July to coincide with the theatrical release of the new film, but I was unable to find it listed on any online retailer website. If anyone has got any recent news or updates on the film’s release, feel free to comment below.