Captain America, freely available for viewing on Hulu.com, was released in 1990, though it has the style and production value of an early-eighties TV movie. It opens in the days of World War II, where an Italian scientist, Dr. Vaselli, is putting the final touches on a medical process to create super-soldiers. The Nazis march in and muck things up, sending the scientist to seek asylum in the US, where she helps the Yanks create a super soldier of their own, the aptly named Captain America.
The Captain, an American soldier named Steve Rogers, sets off to put right what Dr. Vaselli once put wrong, and ends up battling the spoils of her foreign work, the Red Skull. I’m not sure why Rogers came out looking like a cover model while the Red Skull looks like a character from Nip/Tuck, but Skull doesn’t seem very pleased about it. Their battle ends with Cap’n US grabbing onto a Nazi missile aimed at the White House. He rides that bad boy like a West Hollywood Slim Pickens all the way across the pacific, choosing to divert it a few feet from its intended target and aiming it into a Washington state forest. It’s best not to pay very close attention to this, because the logistics read like a question on the AP Math test.
Anyway, the missile crashes, plunging Blue Boy into the ice and freezing him long enough to be thawed out in the 1990’s, where he wakes up, steals a car and meets up with his depression era sweet-heart. She’s now in her eighties, while he still looks thirty. They have a surprisingly touching exchange before he takes up with her twenty-something daughter in an oddly incestuous turn, and spends a lot of time watching television and brooding about the events of the last fifty years.
The Red Skull is still alive, hears of Cap’s return and unleashes his daughter to bring him in, igniting a chase that takes them all to Italy (because, apparently, Germany was too obvious) and involves kidnapping the president.
For an action/adventure movie, it contains very little action and even less adventure. Plus, our boy spends most of the time running around sans tights, looking like a character from Melrose Place, wondering where the time has gone. So, really, this is less Captain America and more Rip Van Whiny.
Plus, I’ve never read the Captain America comics – he was always a bit too Batman-meets-Lynyrd-Skynyrd for my tastes – but after watching this movie, I really have no idea what special powers this guy is supposed to have! He gets shot twice, and ends up in the hospital, so he’s not invincible. He throws people around, but when he punches someone, they’re more than likely to get back up. In the end, the only thing this dude seems good at is riding in a car, then convincing the driver to stop because he’s “gonna be sick,” only to lure them away from the car long enough to steal it and leave them on the side of the road. That’s gotta be the lamest super-power ever, and he uses it… twice!
Really, what makes this dude worthy of the name Captain America? Because he wears red, white and blue? If you change the cowl to a beret, he could just as easily be Captain France. He really likes the President, but then, so did Tony Blair.
No, a real Captain America would stride into danger, armed with a Marlboro and a bottle of Coors, wearing Levi’s and chewing on a buffalo steak. He hasn’t shaved in forty-eight hours, but he still smells of Aqua-Velva. He raises a handgun to the Red Skull, while his lawyers, publicists and life coaches take notes; and, just before sending the red menace back to hell, he crosses himself, takes a bribe and sings the refrain from “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
Now, that’s my kind of super hero.