It’s actually not as bad as I thought. Starring Matt (son of famed author J.D) Salinger and based on the star spangled Marvel comics hero, things kick off immediately, with the Nazis taking a young boy from his family, and subjecting him to some kind of experiment involving electricity and an eye mask. Weirdly, all the dialogue is in Italian, without subtitles. From there, things move briskly, but here’s a few highlights.
We see Steve Rogers, with a limp at home, with his family, one of whom looks suspiciously like Howard Stark from Iron Man. Steve signs up for Project Rebirth and after some close ups of his expanding calf muscle and bolts of electricity, he emerges , looking just the same, but without a limp. During this transformation, we see our first fanboy cameo in army man Bill Mumy (Lost in Space, Babylon 5).
The Nazi Red Skull is not a Nazi. He’s an Italian, and has the bad accent to prove it. We later learn that he’s also responsible for the deaths of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr and is the head of a worldwide crime cartel.
Cap jumps in a plane and we see the usual army attire over his Cap costume, making him look pretty cool, and kinda like the version seen years later in The Ultimates comics.
After a brief battle between Red Skull and his “American brother” Captain America, the former is tied to a missile and lands in the Arctic. Cue lots of spinning newspapers as the decades pass and a frozen Cap is revived, and quickly runs off. Real heroes don’t get pins and needles!
And he keeps on running, even from Ned Beatty who knows who he is. Fanboy cameo no.2 – Beatty was in Superman: The Movie and Superman II. He avoids some biker thugs, led by the Skull’s daughter, looks astonished at a bikini clad babe on the beach and finds the house of his WWII sweetheart Bernice and her daughter Sharon both played by the same actress, with a blonde wig and old age prosthetics as required. Just like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future II!
The Red Skull, now without the red, has had plastic surgery and looks like Punisher villain Jigsaw. He also kidnaps the American President, played by (fanboy cameo no. 3) Ronny Cox, who was bad guy Dick Jones in Robocop.
Steve and Sharon travel to Italy to discover the Skull’s true identity. He never wears the Cap uniform during these scenes, but does wear loafers, uses a bicycle as a getaway vehicle and drives a Mini.
Steve pust on his battered Cap costume again, says, “Gee whiz,” does a few flips and saves the day. The actual rubber suit isn’t too bad, and was perhaps the first to feature fake abs. There’s some shield slinging, a punching President and victory for freedom.
Skull has a few good lines, such as, “Let us see if your heart is bigger then my hate,” and “We are both tragedies. Now I’ll send our tortured souls to rest.” They don’t save him from becoming a dummy and falling off a cliff though. It ends with an unnecessary voiceover about the President and a comic picture of Cap behind the credits.
If you’re a jaded fanboy, you can start watching the film here before you see July’s Chris Evans starrer. At least that doesn’t have rubber ears on the costume.
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