Action Movie Fanatix Review: Captain America (1990)

Action Movie Fanatix review banner for Captain America

Starring: Matt Salinger, Scott Paulin, Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, Michael Nouri, Melinda Dillon, Francesca Neri, Bill Mumy, Kim Gillingham

Director: Albert Pyun

1990  |  97 Minutes  |  PG-13

“You remain a poor choice, little brother.” – Red Skull
“Stop calling me your brother!” – Captain America

I hadn’t seen the Albert Pyun Captain America movie in many, many years. I recently picked up the Blu-ray and decided to see how well (or not) it has held up… especially after the awesome Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

When polio stricken Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) is turned into a super soldier by American scientists he becomes Captain America. On Captain America’s first mission fighting the Nazi super soldier, Red Skull (Scott Paulin) he is lost… entombed in ice. Nearly 50 years later Captain America is found and revived… just in time to save the President of the United States – and the world – from his arch nemesis.

No offense to Matt Salinger but he doesn’t have the “look” that Chris Evans does. Salinger is a good looking guy but he doesn’t have the build or the chiseled jaw line of Evans. Evans IS Captain America.

On top of that, the writing and direction seems determined to undermine the idyllic American man image of Steve Rogers. It shows him smoking at one point. I’m not saying that cigarette smokers are evil or anything but if you are trying to create a crystal clean image of a hero, I would think smoking would be no-no. This version of Steve Rogers is from California rather than New York. There’s a big difference in the stereotypes between New Yorkers and Californians.

Captain America 1990 suitAnd since they couldn’t pull off having a skinny version of Matt Salinger’s Steve Rogers – like we saw in Captain America: The First Avenger – we have a hulking Matt Salinger with a limp. And rather than being injected with the super soldier serum, Cap is instead flashed with some bright blue lights.

To top it all off, Captain America only goes on one mission before he is frozen in ice. Once defrosted Cap spends the majority of the movie in Steve Rogers mode.

Red Skull is a young Italian boy who has the super soldier “serum” forced on him. His red skull never really looks like a skull and after the first mission Red Skull just looks like a guy with some weird scarring on his face.

Red SkullThere is one cool little shout out for comic book fans. When the young children are talking at the beginning they talk about the Sub Mariner and the original Human Torch. Pretty cool reference to The Invaders, Cap’s old WWII team.

By 1990s comic book movie standards, this version of Captain America isn’t actually half bad. The problem it has is that we have seen so many awesome comic book movies in the past 10+ years that this now looks pretty pathetic by comparison. Even some of the worst modern comic book movies have been better than this.

Interestingly enough, Captain America did not see theatrical release in America until over 20 years after its initial release. It was only released theatrical in the U.S. in 2011 in a short tour, cashing in on the impending release of Captain America: The First Avenger.

With the amount of liberties taken with this version of Captain America, I guess I should be happy about EVERY comic adaptation that we have been getting lately. I’m still not, for the record. Regardless, Albert Pyun’s Captain America is still a fun nostalgia trip but not much more.

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