Was there a worse time to make a Captain America movie than 1979? Jimmy Carter's malaise speech was six months away, the Iranian hostage crisis 10 months away. In between we had gas lines and “Americathon,” a movie about the U.S. going broke and resorting to a telethon. That was the mood then. Patriotism was at a low ebb and superheroes were something geeky kids like me read. So how to do make a story out of Captain America?
At least there were more muscle-bound actors like Reb Brown populating Hollywood. The question remained: Could he act?
Or draw? This is what Steve Rogers does here. He's an ex-Marine, sure, but he's through with that shit, man. Now he wants to roam the highways and biways of the land on a never-ending mission. Wait. Wrong 1970s superhero. No, he just wants to be. Dig? He just wants to find himself. He ain't interested in being no superhero.
That's what he tells Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman, the best thing in the TV movie). Mills is basically Cap's Oscar Goldman: the bland, benevolent government man who guides the protege along. He also injects him with the super serum (FLAG: Full Latent Ability Gain) that Steve's father invented from his own adrenal gland. That's why only Steve can use it. Everyone else dies of cell rejection.
Here, Steve is told all about FLAG and rejects the idea.
Here, he realizes he's been injected with it anyway.
Here he's just realizing ... something. Like maybe he should've taken acting lessons.
But the suit is delivered.
And the clear plastic shield ... which is also the windshield to his bike ... which he keeps in his Chevy van ... and that's all right with me.
But they really should've really rethought the helmet.
I get it. They were trying to tap into the popularity of Evel Knievel, which led to shots like these, which are pretty cool.
But the helmet ain't flattering.It makes him look like the Great Gazoo.
Yes, we get some nice shots.
But they must have shot their wad on these stunts. Because the grand finale?
Is this: reviving an asphyxiated oil baron with a neutron bomb tied to his pacemaker.
If he dies, all of Arizona, and most of LA, will die with him. Will it work?