Captain America, the 1979 TV movie, comes from a wildly different era than our modern one. This was a time before cable was prolific and before companies would spend big dollars to bring comic book movies to the big screen. The entire film feels like a pilot for a TV series that never came to be.
You have to wait nearly an hour and ten minutes before we ever see the Captain put on his iconic uniform and when he does you quickly realize just how little care or attention to detail was put into films costuming and design. Heck, this film completely throws out the entire comic book mythology of how Captain America came to be and replaces it with some modern California tale revolving around a motorcycle enthusiast and his bitchin’ van. From the tone of my complaints you might think I really care about comic book movies, but the truth is, I don’t.
I was never an avid fan of comic books. I only read my friends comics and learned what I needed just to keep up with conversations when they turned to the subject of superheroes. Try as I have to enjoy comic book films, I just can’t. I know they should be fun, something I can just go in and get caught up in the action for 90 minutes, or twice that if you are going to one of these modern comic book films. Still, it never works out that way. I find most comic book movies to be big, dumb, corny and ultimately uninteresting movies, more designed to peddle toys and tie-ins than tell a new or interesting story.
Captain America is certainly all of that. It is also so bad that I actually feel sorry for real fans of the comic. How painful it must have been to watch this and continually lie to yourself, telling yourself it was cool even though deep down you must have known it was an offensive, boring mess. Actually, it feels like a theft of time and attention. As with all TV movies, the films really exist to sell the commercial space around the film. I have no idea what commercials played the night this film was screened, but forcing kids to sit for over an hour or an hour and a half without showing them one glimpse of the man (in costume) they tuned into see is one hell of a mean, capitalist trick. In a way, it is probably more American than Captain America himself.