Way before the MCU became the box office behemoth, Marvel wasn’t in the best place. Although their cat of wonderful characters were known to the general public, they just couldn’t seem to get their foot off the ground when it came to transitioning to the silver screen. Their rival DC came out swinging with one of the biggest and best Superhero films of all time, 1978’s Superman, which spawned a very good sequel and 2 garbage filled nightmares. Come the late 80s, Tim Burton released Batman, another critically acclaimed Marvel (ironic pun very much intended) and Marvel couldn’t sit on their laurels any more. They put plans in motion to bring one of their most iconic characters to life. They wanted to produce a Captain America Movie.
The popular origin of Captain America sees Steve Rogers, a weak kid with a big heart who want to go over to Germany and give old Adolf a good hard biffing, unable to make it in the army due to his pathetic stature. So he undergoes an experiment with the intend to bulk up. He becomes a super soldier! He gains muscle, becomes really strong, really fast and really good at shield throwing and goes on to become a beacon of hope to the good old USA as they single handedly take down the Nazis. Now this film, has elements of that, done badly. To start the 25 year old weak Steve Rogers is more weather beaten than a ballbag in a cold storm. He looks older than the woman cast to play his mum. When he is transformed into a super soldier, there are close ups of his muscles getting bigger, but it looks like he is just tensing. There is even a close up on his knee getting stronger. The end result is more Fathers for Justice than Super Soldier. He is a rubber faced, out of shape, normal bloke, thrown in the deep end, expected to carry out secret missions, unprepared and untrained, and that is where the fun lies.
Imagine a world where Martin Clunes was cast to play Captain America. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Well it isn’t too far removed from what we have here. Matt Salinger plays the titular role, beating the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean Claude Van Damme (apparently they had the muscles but their accents and inability to portray the weak Steve ruled them out). Salinger is forced into an unflattering, madly designed costume which, may have looked good in a 1940s comic strip, looks utter shit here. I mean look at those ears! They are fake. Fake rubber ears stuck on to the side of his head. It isn’t like the actor doesn’t have ears. Captain America has play-doh ears and we’re supposed to find him heroic.
Every hero needs a villain and this film brings you one of Captain America’s greatest foes, The Red Skull. It is strange as we see The Red Skull for a brief moment at the start of the movie (when it is set in the 40s), then Captain America gets frozen and wakes up in 1993. Not only is the Red Skull alive and well, he has had plastic surgery to look like a rejected bond baddie. Never is it explained how he failed to age or ceased to die in the 50 years Cap was in the ice. He would at least be in his early 80s surely. Sadly we see the big red head for moments before they decided to save money on the makeup budget (We need money for play-doh ears dam it!) and turn him into a generic stereotypical Nazi, with an accent resembling a Jamaican Swede.
Let’s Talk Money
The film allegedly cost $10,000,000 to make and was slated to be released in 1990 on the 50th anniversary of Captain America. However, due to it being dreadful, it went unreleased for 2 years before being released straight to video. It did get a limited run internationally but I very much doubt it made it’s money back.
Looking for a Positive
It is a bit of a stretch but the special effects on the shield throwing were pretty decent for the time. We take CGI for granted nowadays and we don’t blink an eye when we see Spider-man swinging through cities or Thor defeating an army of elves with his Sparkly hammer. Even though Captain America looks pathetic, his shield throwing is on form.
Would I recommend this movie?
I found this film very funny. It wasn’t supposed to be funny, but it was. It was very, very funny. I laughed more watching this film than I have at any comedy movie released in the last 5 years. It was basically a normal bloke, in a silly costume, out of his depth in espionage plots. I would recommend this film to everyone. It is bad, yet one of my favourite movies I have seen this year. Watching Captain America steal cars had me laughing so much I almost fell out of my chair. Batman and Robin is often hailed as the worst superhero movie of all time, but this film takes the crown. All hail the king.