This Isn’t the First Captain America Movie…

We're all super excited this week to see Captain America finally make it to the big screen as the next Marvel Studios movie, but for those of us who are fans of Captain America and/or cult films it should come as no surprise that this isn't the first time Captain America has graced the silver screen.  Not at all, in fact there have been numerous representations of Captain America in both film and television for over 60 years.  

Ranging from full fledged films, to made for TV movies, to wacky international properties, Captain America has been entertaining fans and non-fans alike in a live action manner dating all the way back to World War II.  Now, for this post we focused on live action representations of Captain America, and not the numerous animation incarnations over the years. 

Pull up a chair and prepare to be dazzled at Captain America through the years!



The Return of Captain America (formerly entitled Captain America) (1944)


As noted earlier this year by Chris Arrant, by the mid-1940s, Captain America had been entertaining millions in his adventures in the comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, mainly punching Nazi's in the face and expanded to the big screen.  As we got towards the end of the war, it's clear that Captain America established himself to be as big of a hero as Superman, thus getting the movie serial treatment.  Clocking in at 15 episodes, we see a live action Captain America on a motorcycle, sans shield, with an itchy trigger finger (Did you see how quickly he shot that guy in the video above? crazy.)  Captain America was portrayed here by Dick Purcell and strayed from the character we know today.  In this serial, Captain America is more of a crime fighting vigilante who's secret identity is Grant Gardner, a district attorney and he fights crime both in the court room and on the streets.


3 Dev Adam  (also known as Captain America and Santo Vs. Spider-Man) (1973)


One of my personal favorite incarnations of Captain America, in this Turkish film from 1973, Captain America doesn't get top billing, rather he's more of a guest star, as Mexican wrestler Santo is locked into epic battle with an evil Spider-Man.  Somewhere along the line, Captain America joins the fray, teaming up with Santo.  As far as I can tell, there is no shield, nor any indication as to who Captain America is under his cowl.  If you're looking to make sense of this one, good luck with that.


Captain America & Captain America II (1979)


While this wasn't technically the "Silver Screen", these two TV movies make the cut here.  Originally broadcast on CBS in 1979, right around the time of the succes of the Incredible Hulk TV Series, you can't help but to think they hoped to tap into something here that could be spun off as a TV show.  In this go around, Captain America is played by Reb Brown, and marks the first time Captain America is actually Steve Rogers.  He's not a man out of time though, as they establish his father fought in World War II and he seems to have inherited his father's patriotism.  Working as an artist (a nod to the Steve Rogers of Marvel Comics at the time), Steve Rogers gets an experimental chemical that gives him super strength and agility.  He dons a bitchin' helmet and motorcycle and see-thru, bulletproof shield, he becomes Captain America and we ge a glimpse to our society's obsession with Evel Kineval in the late 1970s.


Captain America (1990)


Now, we've all heard about this version.  The much rumored and discussed Captain America movie from 1990 starred Matt Salinger as Cap, and is joined by legit actors like Ned Beatty in this battle against the Red Skull in a story that, honestly, seems very similar to the current Captain America movie, with the exception that Red Skull is Italian and not German, for not apparent reason.  This movie was never officially released in theaters, but it hit VHS in 1992 and bootleg copies have been available at comic cons for years.  There was news earlier this year that it would get a DVD release, but it appears to never have happened for some inexplicable reason



And so, there you have it, Captain America's greatest film achievements over the years.  The one thing they all seem to have in common is a ridiculous approach to portraying the star spangled Avenger, as well as a penchant for motorcycles.  Regardless, even if they just released the upcoming Captain America movie starring Chris Evans as the 3 minute trailer we've already seen, that would be an upgrade over these gems.


  1. The 1990 movie is on iTunes. You’re welcome.

  2. @jabroniunc  OH SNAP!

  3. Ron, I was laughing when you refer to it as a “bitchin” helmet. Thanks for that. I met a  guy that had one of those shields from the TV movie, it was awesome.

  4. Looking at some of the older clips, it makes me glad to know that — for as much as folks like to complain about unfaithful adaptations — comic book movies and tv shows of the last 15-ish years usually get more things right than they get wrong.

  5. The music from the so-called “motorcycle scene” is downright saucy. 

  6. @icn1983  Groovy seventies disco, complete with wah-wah guitar. Nothing says Captain America more than wah-wah guitar.

  7. Turkish Spider-Man is bloody psychotic in that movie.  He duct tapes a tube to a guy’s face and then has guinea pigs eat his face.

  8. In a weird bit of interner synergy: GQ interviewed Matt Salinger

  9. @jabroniunc  Thanks!

    In the 73 Turkish movie…was it me or was Santo morphing into Cap inbetween cuts?

    In the 79 TV movie…I did not know that it was ok for security guards to shoot people for trespassing in the 70’s.

  10. “Oh it looks good!”


  11. I can’t believe that I have actually seen all of these films.  To be honest I think the serial, despite the changes they made to Cap’s identity and having him carry a gun, was better than the 90’s movie.  I wish Jack Kirby was around to see the new film.

  12. If I remember right, wasn’t it the other way around?  Turkish Cap was the main hero and Turkish Santo helped out by shoving important evidence into his pants?

  13. Probably posting this to late but the old Captain Americian movies are on SyFy today. 90’s one is on at 9est

  14. @Jediaxle  –thanks for reminding me. I’m watching the 1990 one now. Its basically awesome.