My VCR is Broken: Captain America

March 11th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , ,

The comic of Jeph Loeb is fearful. Were the new scrapped vessel body and onslaught where the origin it changes read? Is this junk what?

Oh, sorry. I just tried venting at Jeph Loeb’s current work, only I translated it into Japanese and again back to English. It’s funny how that turned out, isn’t it?

If you recall, a few months back I posted an article that featured the comic adaptation of the Street Fighter live action movie. Sure, I had a ball with it and hopefully you enjoyed it as well, but something felt off about it. Having already seen the movie, it took out a lot of the flavor of the comic. That got me thinking.

There are a ton of comic book superhero movies out there and when you look at it, only recently have they been getting it right more often than naught. Back in the day, yes, we had stuff like Superman 2, but good movies like that were flukes. I like a bad movie as much as the next guy, but even I’ll admit that I’ve stayed away from these monstrosities for one reason or another.

Luckily, I don’t have to see these movies. Marvel and DC have almost always been kind enough to release these superhero stories the old fashion way, within the pages of a comic book. Why overpay for popcorn and sit in a cold theater when I can read about Shaq fighting crime while laying in a hammock in my back yard? I’m sure I won’t have to worry about bad acting or bad special effects.

This will be my first of several articles delving into the double-translated works of superhero movie comics.

The background of this movie confuses me a bit. From the little research I did after reading the comic, it was finished and released in the UK back in 1990, but then they did a bunch of re-shoots and edits before simply releasing it on video in the US in 1992. When I read a summary of the story for the finished version, it definitely shows that Stan wrote his comic about the initial screenplay of the film prior to the edits.

What’s that I said about Stan? Yes, I mean that Stan. The Stan. Stan Lee wrote the comic version of the movie with Bob Hall on art. This makes everything more interesting, since Stan Lee’s storytelling contrasts with anything you can imagine in a movie environment.

We begin in Portovenere, Italy on Christmas Eve, 1936. A boy plays the piano for his parents as they record it and talk about how beautiful his skills are. All of the sudden, some Fascist soldiers bust in, steal the kid and waste the parents while stealing the recorder. Seems they want to use a “young, trusting” boy for some experiment of theirs. As you can probably figure out, they mean to make this kid into the Red Skull. Maybe it’s just me, but forcing him away from his family against his will seems not only unnecessary, but counter-productive. There are no healthy orphans lying around Italy?

He is given the Super Soldier Serum, though it isn’t perfected yet. The doctor that created it is horrified, as she meant to use it for the good of humanity, not to turn a child into a monster.

Just imagine that scene translated to film.

A few years later, in America, puny Steve Rogers gets ready to leave for his secret mission for the government. He can’t even tell his loved ones what it’s about, as he knows very few details. Before leaving, he goes to see his girlfriend Bernice one last time. They never actually call her Bernice in this comic. They just refer to her as “Bernie”. I don’t care how hot she’s supposed to be, that name is such a turn-off. I imagine someone smoking hot, like WWE’s Maria Kanellis saying, “You can call me Bernie!” and I feel myself sadly losing interest. Am I alone in this or should I have a doctor check it out?

The same female scientist that created the Red Skull is behind amping up Steve’s physique with her Super Soldier Serum, only now she’s perfected it. Like in the original story, after Steve is granted his perfect physical form, a traitor shoots the scientist in the back and kills her. Steve takes a couple bullets while beating the assassin within an inch of his life. He tosses him into some electrical equipment, seemingly killing him.

Hours later, after healing from his bullet wounds, Steve is sent… uh, somewhere. It doesn’t seem to say where exactly, but it is very snowy. Prior to leaving, he’s given his shield and briefly talks about his goofy costume with his commander. He parachutes into the wilderness and meets up with some French underground soldiers. Soon they are discovered by the Nazis and the French guys sacrifice themselves to protect Steve. As I understand it, this scene wasn’t even in the actual movie.

Steve’s reaction to what’s happening comes across as almost ungrateful: “They gave their lives for their cause! I can’t let them down! The shield is incredible! So easy to use!” Yes, this is all in one shared word bubble. It’s as if he knows he’s a dick, but wants to hide it from the rest of us. It’s really sad that these people just died for him and all but, HOLY SHIT THIS IS FUN AS HELL!

He’s off to a Nazi base to prevent them from firing a rocket. On his way, he changes his clothes so fast that even Wally West is impressed.

Captain America proceeds to kick the ass of everyone in sight before breaking into the facility. Soon he comes up against the Red Skull, shown in his red skully glory, proving his skill by easily catching Cap’s shield.

Is it wrong that I really like this speech? Not that it matters. It’s immediately ruined by Cap’s comeback, “Sure, Charlie, you’ll conquer America – when Little Orphan Annie elopes with King Kong!” That’s a really bad line, but at the same time, it makes me imagine how much better One More Day would have been starring those two instead of Peter and MJ.

Cap ends up losing the fight and gets tied up to the rocket. Before being sent off, he grabs Red Skull by the hand with intent of bringing him with him. A piece of machinery on the rocket comes out and hacks off Skull’s hand, saving him. The rocket ends up heading for Washington DC. Cap gets free and is able to pilot the rocket himself. All of this is noticed by a very young Nick Kimball, himself on vacation in Washington DC. The boy takes a picture of Cap and the rocket, though he keeps it to himself for years.

Cap redirects the rocket into Alaska, where it explodes and hurts nobody. Cap, on the other hand, falls into the sea, soon becoming frozen. As the years go by, Nick Kimball becomes President of the United States. Cap remains a popsicle until being uncovered by some foreign researches. Not only is he at the top of his game physically, but Cap has the power to hear perfectly while covered in several inches of ice.

He shatters his way out and gives out ass-kickings all around. One of the guys there is excited, since while the others were getting their teeth sprinkled down their throats, he was taking pictures of Captain America. When President Kimball sees this, he gets excited and calls up his reporter friend Sam.

Elsewhere, Red Skull and his daughter Antonella discuss the news. Over the years, Skull had become a major behind-the-scenes villain and was behind assassinations of JFK, MLK and others. Skull had also replaced his hand and had plastic surgery done to his face to make him look more human. I don’t like that. Dramatically, it would make sense to show his true, freakish, familiar form towards the end of the movie. This feels wrong.

Antonella sends her henchmen after Cap. As our hero runs through Canada, he figures that the Germans and Italians won World War II. He eludes his enemies and hooks up with Sam. Riding with Sam, he gets paranoid and figures that it might be a trap. Once he sees that Sam’s car is a Toyota (dun dun DUNNNN!) , he strands his savior and drives off. I wouldn’t have trusted him either. In the movie, he’s played by Ned Beatty and we all know that Beatty works for Lex Luthor.

Antonella finds Sam, drugs him and puts a tracker on him in case he finds Cap again. Cap, on the other hand, hitchhikes and goes back home.

“BMW”? What kind of crazy moon language word is that?! Doesn’t even have vowels.

Steve is all depressed about how everything sucks now and how his favorite lake is now polluted. He then sees what looks to be Bernie walking around. He goes to her and gets punched down. Turns out it’s Sharon Carter, Bernie’s daughter. Bernie, now much older, comes out and calms her daughter down. She takes Steve in and tries to explain what’s been going on. Shortly after, Steve agrees to be Sharon’s roommate, since he needs a place to stay and she lives in a dangerous neighborhood.

Sam finds out enough about Steve to figure out where he’s staying. Antonella uses that information to strike. Sometime later, Steve and Sharon return to Bernie’s home to find the place wrecked. Sharon’s father is barely alive, but both Bernie and Sam are dying. None of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Toyota.

*shakes fist and angrily looks up*


To make matters worse, the President has been kidnapped. Crooked politician Senator Millhouse makes the announcement, which clues Cap in that it’s the Red Skull’s doing. You see, this American senator is none other than the same guy that shot the creator of the serum all those years ago. I’m not even going to go into all the things wrong with that twist.

Cap and Sharon go back to the secret lab where he was originally augmented. They find some of the dead scientist’s notes and an old wire recorder. They then go to Italy, where Cap has to hide in Sharon’s luggage due to his lack of passport. Antonella gets wind of them and follows them around.

As for President Kimball, Red Skull’s plan is to give him a series of injections with a serum that will force him to obey Skull’s orders. What I love here is how vague the whole political subplot is here. Part of the movie is meant to be a stand against pollution, but they never make much of a point. Kimball is a good guy and he is for protecting the environment. Red Skull is a bad guy and he isn’t for protecting the environment. That’s as far as they go with it.

We get to see Steve and Sharon enjoying a meal in Italy and they discuss the recording they uncovered. I understand the context and everything, but Steve’s explanation makes me laugh.

He then heard, “What’s-ah matta wit you-ah?!” If you listen really hard, you hear someone twirling a coiled mustache too.

Antonella opens fire on the couple, prompting them to escape on a bicycle. They later infiltrate Red Skull’s stronghold and free the President, who was only one serum injection away from being under mind-control. Not the flashiest plot device. President Kimball starts kicking ass out of nowhere, surprising Captain America.

In other news, the Red Skull’s daughter forgot to take her panties out of the dryer that day. Pretty daring for a PG-13 movie.

Shortly after a diversion, Captain America chases the Red Skull as Sharon smacks around Antonella and President Kimball holds Senator Millhouse at gunpoint. In their rematch, this time on a narrow platform, Cap comes out the winner. Not to be defeated so easily, Skull runs off towards his piano.

This is where things get strange. I read the Wikipedia entry on the movie’s plot and it looks like each version of the story goes off into a different direction. In the movie, Red Skull took out a detonator that would set off an atomic bomb. Cap tosses the shield at him and knocks him off the tower, likely killing him.

There is a bomb in the comic, but it’s part of Red Skull’s piano. It’s been mentioned earlier that at times he would play the same song on the piano, and then stop before he could finish it, obviously referencing his tragic childhood. The bomb in the piano is to be set off via a specific order of notes. To help jog his memory, Skull plays that same song from his childhood. Rather than make any attempt to physically stop him, Cap just pulls out the recording of Skull’s family being slaughtered and replays it. Skull immediately becomes a wreck and rather than play the bomb-detonating keys, he finishes off the sonata for the first time in his life. He then promptly stands up and takes a step off the roof, falling to his death.

And that takes care of that.

Two days later, President Kimball is on TV thanking Cap for saving him. Sharon wants some hot Super Soldier action and our hero decides to Hell with television.

To the comic’s credit, at least Captain America didn’t have rubber ears. None that I noticed at least.

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6 comments to “My VCR is Broken: Captain America”

  1. I actually watched that movie when it came out, for my sins. I have fortunately managed to block most of the memories. Though red skull turning into Don Corleone at the end still makes me scream “WHYYYYY??” at random moments.

  2. The comic of Jeph Loeb is indeed fearful.

  3. The comic of Jeph Loeb is really very fearful.

  4. I realize that this topic is an older one, but when I saw the cover to the issue, I had a sneaking suspicion I’d seen a similar image before:


  5. Yeah, I’m behind, I know. Anyhow, I think I vaguely remember seeing this movie on TV, quite probably during the 90’s. I suppose it’s telling that I’d forgotten about it until reading this post.

  6. Captain America Movie. Started production on this film in Oct of 1987.(Before Batman) With a good cast and a $40 million budget. After filming about 1/2 of the beginning and a small part of the ending. Only 3 1/2 weeks into production, investors pulled all the money out from under us.(Last big hero movie was Superman 2). the film shut down. In April of 1990 Marvel fronted $3 million to finish the project. Matt Salinger was called back in, a handfull of shots was filmed. Less then 1/2 of the movie was filmed as it was written. (And some fight scenes are still missing.) Menahem’s boys glue it together. P.W.