Red Skull: Fifty years ago, you were Dr. Vaselli’s ridiculous idea. You remain a clownish symbol that no one cares about.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Before Chris Evans became the Star-Spangled Man With a Plan we had another Captain America movie back in 1990. If you were to guess the future of Marvel from this movie you would never predict that it would become what it is now. Even among Marvel’s worst this movie is not remembered. It was one of the few Marvel movies that went straight-to-video. With horrible writing, budget, direction, and lead this is one Captain America that should have stayed frozen in the ice.
The story is that Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) is a soldier excluded from the draft due to his polio. He is chosen for an experiment by the American government to makehim a super soldier. While the experiment succeeds a Nazi spy murders the scientist in charge named Dr. Vaselli (Carla Cassola). Meanwhile, an Italian man named Tadzio de Santis (Scott Paulin) who was abducted eight years prior for the same experiment has grown up to become the evil Red Skull. He is planning on launching a missile towards the White House. Thus Steve assuming a new superhero costume and given the codename Captain America is sent to deactivate the missile and defeat Red Skull. However Steve is defeated and launched on themissile. While he manages to make it miss the white house he crashes in Alaska where he remains frozen for 50 years until 1993. He is eventually found and revived to save President Thomas Kimball (Ronny Cox) of the United States from being brainwashed by Red Skull’s crime family who is against his environmentalist policies.
One of the first problems with this movie is that Captain America is very much a coward. Not only does he often run away from crime rather than fight against it but also gets beaten up several times. Multiple times throughout the movie while being driven around he pretends to be sick and steal cars from those who try to help him. There is almost no reason as to why he was chosen to be made into a super soldier as opposed to any other war soldier who could have used it. In fact, he is practically sidelined for the majority of the movie and only gets two attempts at being a superhero.
The romance between Steve and his girlfriend Bernice in no way makes you feel for it and leaves no impact whatsoever.
The superhero costume even by 90s standards is downright ridiculous. There is given almost no explanation as to how he got it in the first place (other than the fact that it was mentioned to be a fireproof suit made by Dr. Vaselli). It looks very cheap and the wings on the helmet stick out making it very distracting. All in all the costume makes him look like a bulls-eye rather than strike any fear or hope into the hearts of people.
The effects are somewhat decent. The design on Red Skull, in particular, is incredible he looks very fleshed out and creepy. Unfortunately, we don’t see him as the Red Skull for long as by the time Captain America is revived we no longer see him as Red Skull as he’s had a great deal of plastic surgery to alter his disfigurement. The action, on the other hand, is horribly staged, badly lit, and incredibly cluttered and fake. Nothing about it stands out and there is even less of a reason to care about what is going on.
With the Red Skull being Captain America’s nemesis you would see them often clashing. However, they only have one brief scene together (and one only where we see him with the Red Skull) before he has a normal face for the rest of the movie. Red Skull is also normally a member of Hydra and the SS. However here he’s an Italian mobster.
Captain America 1990 is certainly a bad movie. And much like Captain America in this movie it should have stayed frozen in ice. That being said however it would make a good ice sculpture. For a straight-to-video movie, it did so much wrong that it ought to be held up for all the wrong ways of making a superhero movie. And it truly serves as a good way to look back upon how bad things were for the character to how good he became now.