I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 1990 movie Captain America.
IMDb Rating: 3.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes critics: 9%
Rotten Tomatoes audience: 16%
My Rating: 1/10
I’ll be honest, one reason I watched this was to compare it to the new Captain America movie. I remember watching this at some point when I was young, and I knew it was bad even then. Now, of course, I can appreciate just how truly terrible this movie is. It’s hard to come up with anything good to say about this movie. The plot is ridiculous, the acting is terrible, the visual effects are laughable, and the music is, somehow, even worse. It’s pretty obvious that the filmmakers had no idea how to show Steve Rogers as a weakling, so they didn’t even try, they just gave him a limp. The Red Skull’s makeup is actually okay, but they only used it for about 5 minutes, then they switched it over to a more flesh tone for the last half of the movie. There are plot holes everywhere, and everyone but Captain America seems to know how to throw a punch. It’s an absolute mess.
When my wife saw that I was watching this movie, she wanted to know a little bit about it, so I showed her the iMDB page, and we looked at the box office numbers. This was a pretty cheap movie with a production budget of only $10 million. It wasn’t even released in theaters in the US. A movie about Captain America made its theatrical debut in England, and only grossed $10,000 dollars. Everyone knew that this was terrible.
I did decide to give a single point in my rating, solely because it works as a bad movie night kind of movie. It’s easy to laugh through the whole thing, even some of the actors seemed to do it, as Matt Salinger, who plays Captain America, breaks character by looking at the camera a few times through the movie.
Oh yeah, I also watched the 2011 version.
IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes critics: 79%
Rotten Tomatoes audience: 74%
My Rating: 7/10
I think this movie is a little underrated in the MCU. When I’ve looked at rankings of the MCU movies, this is often near the bottom. It may be that the other movies are just better, but that doesn’t by any stretch mean that this movie is bad.
Chris Evans does a great job as Steve Rogers. The effects that make him appear small and weak are excellent, and his transformation into the super soldier is outstanding. He’s very believable in both his weakness and his strength, which is impressive. All around, the casting is great. Hugo Weaving is an excellent Red Skull, Stanley Tucci is fantastic as Dr. Erskine, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, etc. are all great. In fact, my least favorite performance in the movie came from Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Phillips, but that was more about the character than the acting.
One thing that stuck out to me as I watched was the tribute that this movie made to Captain America’s origins as a propaganda character. It was brilliantly done. The super soldier is too valuable to risk in combat, but too impressive to hide in a lab, so the powers that be throw him out to the media as a bond salesman. It was a great way to capture his original purpose while adding character development and setting up the first real mission.
Unfortunately, after Captain America truly enters the war, the story starts to decline. There are some quick battle scenes, setting up the final conflict, but that conflict feels a little rushed and haphazard. Plot holes start to sneak in, and the climactic confrontation between Captain America and the Red Skull is unsatisfying. It’s a shame that Hugo Weaving has no interest in reprising his role, because having him come back in some future film could give the closure that was lacking in this one.
I gave this movie the same rating that I gave Thor. It’s about at the same level. I think Thor had the better story, but Captain America had the better cast. For a movie that was specifically designed to be a set up for The Avengers, it stands on it’s own very well.