Thursday, July 4, 2013


As it is Independence Day here in the United States, I figured it was time to finally post something here at Space: 1970 about the two 1979 Captain America TV movies, starring Reb Brown (Yor) as the star-spangled avenger.  Fortunately, I had this missive from loyal Star Kid Jason Shepherd in my e-mailbox, and I thought it would serve nicely, so:

Attached are some pictures from the 1979 CBS Captain America movies. Since Space:1970 has started covering TV superheroes of the era, I figured you might want these.

These movies represent a unique frustration for me.  Captain America has always been my favorite superhero, and I realize how lucky Cap fans were to see these movies, but... it stings that they're not very good.  Clearly they were less inspired by the comics and more by the then-contemporary Six Million Dollar Man series, including giving Cap an Oscar Goldman-like boss and a unique sound effect when he used his super-strength.

If Captain America had made the transition from TV movies to TV series, would it have been very good?  I like to think it could have become a decent series.  Reb Brown would have had a chance to stretch his acting chops a bit, grow into the role.  They would have to settle on a format that allowed for more action -- more fights, less motorcycle-riding (a weak point of the TV movies!)  While they likely wouldn't have been able to do TV versions of Cap's classic Rogue's Gallery, hopefully they would have invented some decent foes for Cap instead of run-of-the-mill crooks and spies.

Me again: I don't think I actually saw the two Captain America TV movies when they originally aired, although I did eventually pick up a VHS copy of Captain America II: Death Too Soon in the 90s, and I own the double feature DVD now. But I do remember that my friends who had seen them were very upset about the costume changes and revamped origin story. When I watched the two telefilms on DVD a while back, I personally found it difficult to get too worked up about either change (although the costume in the first movie was really bad!).

Yeah, they're silly movies and deviate substantially from Marvel Comics lore and legend, but they're entertainingly silly, and that's enough for me.


  1. I think the motorcycle emphasis (and the first costume) was more than a little Evel Knievel inspired.

    I watched that Rifftrax version of Viva Knievel the other month and it dawned on me - I had every single one of those toys he passed out at the orphanage.

    Anyway, I really love the 1990 TV movie, which has a feel of being from the early 80s.

  2. Jason Shepherd here again... upon reflection, another weakness of these movies is Reb Brown himself. He fit Captain America's physical type fairly well, but he didn't have any of the gravitas or charisma you'd expect from the Star Spangled Avenger.

    In the first movie in particular, Brown's lack of acting skill really stings. Someone pointed out that he's like an actor in a high school play -- he says his lines, then you can see him visibly relax and wait for the next time he has to talk. He was a lot better in the second movie; his later films show he became a competent actor, so I'm sure he would have grown into the role. Len Birman rocked his part, though.

  3. Yes, I remember having such high hopes when these movies were announced..

    Cap was to have gotten so much better.