Captain American (1979) – 1 out of 5
The last ten years has made us complacent with our comic book movies. Prior to such films as Batman Begins, Watchman, X2, 300 and the first Iron Man there were very few examples of really solid comic book adaptations going on out there. Yes, the first two Blades kick ass and were great examples of treating the source material with respect but for every one of those we had to deal with ones that were clearly phoned-in and made just to get a film out there. Teams and heroes like the Fantastic Four and Daredevil (although the Director’s Cut of that one kicks ass and was vastly superior to the shit that hit the theaters) were treated with about as much respect as a drunk sorority girl in a frat house. The movies weren’t really made with quality in mind, they were made just to get made and get some of the cash with little to no consideration of their audience. Clearly Marvel, DC and the likes didn’t give a fuck but if you look back far enough, they didn’t give a fuck for a long time.
|Even the guy who plays Capt. is shocked by the level Marvel clearly didn't care.|
Take everything you know, love and appreciate about Captain America and toss it out the window (you can even throw out the part where guys like Toby Keith think that Capt. is all about just blind patriotism and yelling “USA” as you punch people). This film tells a new story of Capt.’s origin and not in a gritty reboot sort of way (this movie was made 30 years before gritty reboots were even considered an option). In this film, Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) is a surfer dude puss of a man who, despite being in the marines, wants to be an artist (you know who else wanted to be an artist, Rogers? Hitler! Let that sink in.) After almost being killed on his way to meet a scientist friend of his by some bumbling villains (the enemies try to kill him by making an oil slick on the road…because these bad guys are mischievous coyotes) he learns his father had produced a serum called FLAG (because fuck subtlety) that made him a super-soldier and it seems the changes it made on him were passed down genetically.
|Wait...is this the scene in Willy Wonka where the kid gets transported through|
TV waves? Are Oompa Loompas behind this plot?
After the bad guys get their hands on a nuclear weapon, they are successfully able to almost kill Rogers and, while injured and near death, he’s given the serum and it awakens the genetic programming that was hiding in his DNA. Reluctantly (and by reluctantly, I mean the bad guys kidnapped the chick he was into), Rogers agrees to do what’s right and is renamed Captain America and given a suit that makes the comic original look dignified and fashionable. So, with all the nobility of the character from the source material thoroughly shat upon, Captain America speeds off to stop the bomb.
I can only assume when this film was made that all of those in the upper echelons of Marvel gave it a quick look and said, “Eh, whatever, kids are too stupid to know the difference” before this film was set upon the world. It can also only be assumed that the writer didn’t pick up a single issue of the comic or even fully understand what a comic was because they take all that is good about Captain America—like the fact he believes in sticking up for the little guy, fights for what’s right and decent and, even with his shortcomings prior to becoming a super soldier, he was all heart and fought with more bravery and tenacity than those in better shape than he was—well, they take all these features and say, “You know what’s better? A surfer 70s dude who can’t act that only does what’s right when the chick he wants to get with is put in danger.”
|"Okay, this shield is made of plastic and it won't deflect bullets...so...|
here ya go. Be a hero, son!"
This 1979 treatment of the iconic hero is everything wrong with how a comic adaptation can go…and then it goes beyond that. They destroyed the character with an origin that does away with all the character traits that make Captain America the man that he is and that is unforgiveable in and of itself but the movie seems hell-bent on making this film something that a person, after viewing this, actually appreciate the jazz dancing in Spiderman 3.
First off, Reb Brown just plain sucks as Steve Rogers/Captain America. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, he is just awful. Acting doesn’t come naturally to him and it doesn’t even come artificially to him—in fact, it never comes to him because he looks lost the entire film. He reads his lines in an incoherent mumble and gives off less emotion than a clinically dead lobotomy patient. For example, to get to Rogers and get the hidden plans for the bomb, the bad guys of the film kill Rogers' friend and he reacts to this turn of events (and the discovery of the body) with about as much enthusiasm and reaction as a person has when purchasing sponges to clean their dishes with…actually, with far less enthusiasm.
|The helmet is to help protect him from the bricks that will be hurled at him because|
of that suit.
Then you have the film’s bad guys…they offer up no real threat (until they actually have a nuclear device) and resort to killing Rogers in ways that are meant to look like accidents…as oppose to just shooting him in the fucking head! And considering the intelligence that the character of Rogers shows in the film, the bad guys could have walked up to him and said, “Hey, can you look into the barrel of this gun, I promise not pull the trigger” and then you know he fucking would have done that! Instead, they resort to manufacturing car accidents to do him in…and they were clearly seconds away from a plan that involved an anvil or painting a tunnel on the side of a solid rock wall.
|Sad reality, the other end of the phone isn't even plugged in.|
Everything about this film is awful but it allows the opportunity to appreciate how good we have it now. Captain America: The First Avenger showed what is needed (and expected) from a Captain America property. This movie is only good to watch for a laugh because it is an unintentional comedy.