Archive for April 2, 1992

Captain America (1990)

April 2, 1992

Remember back before Iron Man and Spider-Man, when Marvel Comics movies were too lousy to be released in theaters? That tradition was continued with this incoherent, stupidly violent version of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby WWII hero. The film opens in prewar Italy, with a young boy captured by the Nazis and turned into the Red Skull. Seven years later, in 1943, young polio sufferer Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger, son of J.D. — damn, what would Holden Caulfield make of this flick?) volunteers for the U.S. government’s “Super-Soldier” experiment, which gives him muscles, clears up his polio, and makes him Captain America.

After a brief skirmish with the now-adult Red Skull (Scott Paulin, spending about ten minutes of screen time in the familiar Skull makeup), Cap is strapped to a rocket and lands in Alaska, where he stays frozen in ice until the ’90s, when he’s found and defrosted. Then he has to track down the elderly Red Skull, who’s responsible for the JFK/RFK/MLK assassinations (take that, Oliver Stone!) and has kidnapped the resolutely liberal U.S. president (Ronny Cox) — who as a boy caught a glimpse of Cap whooshing by on the rocket. This president, who wants to save the environment at the expense of corporations, has been marked for “brain implantation” by key members of his own military.

Captain America is one of the dumbest movies of all time, with a decent cast (Melinda Dillon thrown away after one scene, Darren McGavin, Ned Beatty) utterly wasted. Perversely, this was the first movie to feature both Cox and Beatty since their mutual screen debut in Deliverance, and their characters are supposed to be childhood buddies, but they never have a scene together! (They just talk a lot on the phone.) The action sequences are cluttered, badly lit, and horribly staged. Stephen Tolkin (brother of Michael, who wrote The Player) is said to have written a far better script than what was actually filmed.