Captain America (1990)
Captain America is a 1990 American-Yugoslavian direct-to-video superhero film directed by Albert Pyun and written by Stephen Tolkin and Lawrence Block. The film is based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name. While the film takes several liberties with the comic's storyline, it features Steve Rogers becoming Captain America during World War II to battle the Red Skull, being frozen in ice, and subsequently being revived to save the President of the United States from a crime family that dislikes his environmentalist policies.
It's later established that the universe this movie takes place in is Earth-697064.
In Fascist Italy in 1936, the government kidnaps a boy, Tadzio de Santis, and kills his family. The child is needed for an experimental project to create a fascist supersoldier. Dr. Maria Vaselli objects to using Tadzio, and, under the cover of gunfire, flees to the United States to offer her services to the Americans.
Seven years later, the American government finds a volunteer in Steve Rogers, a soldier who was excluded from the draft because of his polio. The formula is a success and transforms Rogers into a near-perfect human being with peak strength, agility, stamina and intelligence. Unfortunately, before any more super soldiers can be created, Vaselli is assassinated by a Nazi spy. Meanwhile, Tadzio has become the Red Skull and is planning to launch a missile at the White House. Rogers, now codenamed "Captain America", is sent in to defeat the Skull and deactivate the missile. Rogers penetrates the launch compound, but after an initial battle, the Red Skull defeats Captain America and ties him to the missile as it is about to launch. Captain America grabs the Red Skull and forces him to cut off his own hand to avoid being launched along with Rogers. While the missile is over Washington, D.C., a young boy named Thomas Kimball takes a photograph as Captain America forces the missile to change course and land somewhere in Alaska, where he remains frozen for fifty years until 1993.
Kimball becomes a hero in the Vietnam War and is later elected the President of the United States of America. A year into his term, he pushes for pro-environmentalist legislation that angers the military-industrial complex, who hold a secret conference in Italy led by the Red Skull. Following the war, Red Skull had extensive plastic surgery to partially alter his disfigured features, raised a daughter named Valentina, and has become the leader of a powerful crime family. In the 1960s, this American military-industrial complex hired the Red Skull and his thugs to assassinate various Americans who were against their militarism and Red Skull's fascism, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy and New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Now, the Red Skull is targeting Kimball for kidnapping and brainwashing.
Researchers find Rogers' frozen body, and he awakens thinking that he is still in the 1940s. After battling some of Red Skull's thugs, he brushes off Sam Kolawetz, a reporter and childhood friend of President Kimball, and hitchhikes his way back to his wartime girlfriend, Bernice Stewart, in California. While Bernice still lives at her old residence, she has long since married and raised her own daughter, Sharon, who gives Rogers a series of VHS history tapes to watch. Meanwhile, Red Skull's thugs, led by Valentina, break into Bernice's house, kill her and cause her husband to have a heart attack during their efforts to find Rogers.
Rogers and Sharon visit the secret underground base where he gained his superpowers to recover Vaselli's diary and learn the original name of Red Skull. Although Rogers and Sharon find the diary, Red Skull's thugs grab it. Rogers and Sharon vow revenge and to rescue the recently kidnapped president. They travel to Italy and, in the Red Skull's home, locate an old recording of the murder of his family. Sharon agrees to be kidnapped to allow Rogers, who once again dons his costume, to enter the Red Skull's castle.
In the midst of their battle, the Red Skull pulls out a remote trigger for a nuclear bomb, but Rogers uses Sharon's recording of the murder of Red Skull's family fifty-seven years earlier to distract him. While the Red Skull is lost in thought, Captain America uses his shield to send Red Skull falling off a cliff to his death before the bomb can be set off. As Valentina prepares to kill Rogers, she is decapitated by his returning shield.
The United States Marines arrive to save the President and arrest the Americans involved in the kidnapping. The credits roll with a comic book image of Captain America in the background and a plea to support the 1990 United States Environmental Protection Act.
Why It Sucks
- An extremely boring story.
- Very poor production values that would be excusable... if the movie was made in the 1970s.
- Excessive use of subtitles to pinpoint the locations throughout the movie.
- Captain America is portrayed in this movie as a very ineffective hero; in fact, his main power is pretending to be sick so that he can steal someone's car.
- The ears on Captain America's suit are made of rubber.
- Bucky Barnes is absent from the film.
- Poor appearance of Red Skull, as he looks like a low-budget Freddy Krueger wax sculpture. In fact, how can a human boy become a fully grown adult in the span of just seven years?
- Cheesy action scenes that overuse quick cuts, which only serves to throw off the audience. One example is the scene where a Nazi spy is about to shake Dr. Vaselli's hand, only to suddenly raise the offered hand in a Nazi salute, shout "Heil Hitler!" at the top of his lungs, and shoot her in the chest.
- Ridiculously inappropriate soundtrack consisting of generic 1980s music.
- Heavy-handed environmental message throughout the movie, which even encourages the viewer at the end to support the 1990 United States Environmental Protection Act.
- Poor understanding of the source material, Red Skull here is portrayed as an Italian man named Tadzio de Santis instead of being a German Nazi named Johann Schmidt, and Sharon isn't even Peggy Carter's niece.
- Misleading Poster: The bottom caption says "Coming to theaters everywhere", but it was a direct-to-video movie.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- As bad as the suit is, it is (so far) the only comic accurate suit.