Before Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Thor, there was Captain America. The version of Captain America you saw in theatres this Summer wasn’t the first time Marvel tried making a live-action film based on the popular comic hero. It turns out Steve Rogers and The Red Skull have battled it out on the big screen before, way back in 1992. At least internationally. In the United States, the Captain went (deservedly) direct to video.
Trying to capitalize on the buzz from Tim Burton’s Batman, Marvel decided to attempt their own superhero adaption in 1990. Captain America ended up getting terrible reactions at various screenings, and while they tried saving the film through reshoots, the final result never warranted a legitimate release. I wish I could say that this is one of those lost treasures that never got the credit it was due, but after having just sat through 97 minutes of this wannabe blockbuster, I hate to say the film should never have been released at all.
A disaster from start to finish, this is THE WORST superhero film I have ever seen. And yes, this includes Batman and Robin. There is nothing that works about the film. The production values are a joke, with cheap and poorly lit sets and terrible costuming, including random plastic ears. It’s one of the weirdest costuming decisions I’ve seen in a long time. However, none of this would matter if there was a compelling story, decent dialogue, memorable characters, etc. Unfortunately, the film has none of these.
The film opens with the abduction of a child who will be transformed by super serum into the Red Skull. At the last second, the scientist who created the serum changes her mind, fleeing to America, and giving the same serum to us. This of course leads to Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America. When the Red Skull tries to launch a missle at the White House, Captain America reroutes it to Antarctica, where he is frozen until the 90’s.
The battle picks up between them, only now, the Red Skull has had surgery to make him less garish than he once was. His plan is to kill the President, who is pushing for environmental policies that go against the beliefs of the Red Skull. There is nothing exciting or entertaining about any of this. Nobody involved seems invested in what’s happening, with everybody phoning in their performances. The action is poorly shot and edited, and the film is ugly to watch.
It doesn’t help that the quality of the new DVD release is a terrible transfer. The film would look bad enough as is, but this is so grainy and dark that it’s really hard to tell what’s going on half the time. The film looks so old and cheap that it’s hard to believe the film was made in the 90’s. Beyond a preview, there aren’t any extras in this release either. There is no reason for this DVD to exist other than to capitalize on the success of the recent Captain America film. Comparing the two films, it’s amazing to see just how far the superhero genre has come.