Oh Reb Brown, where would cinema be without you? Without Brown, we wouldn’t have had the 1979 Television movie “Captain America,” a movie so inept, it can’t even mimic Evel Knievel well. Brown is Steve Rogers for some reason, who came back from the war, and now drives around in a very kick ass van that also sports his favorite motorcycle. He’s a an ex-Marine/surfer/artist/motorcycle racer who also happens to be involved with a scientist developing a new formula for super strength (with the acronym F.L.A.G.), so while he’s helping develop a potentially groundbreaking formula for humanity, he is constantly moping around about the war and his lack of money. The sad fact is that the serum can only work for the Rogers blood line. Why? Because it’s a Captain America movie.
In the late eighties, all of the nineties, and some of the early aughts, comic books were our number one hobby. We collected literally every comic that drew our interest. Over the years, especially in the nineties, many of the major comic book companies attempted to draw in new readers by changing the costumes of some of their major superheroes and super villains. If that wasn’t bad enough, for a very long time, many of the live action efforts for superhero movies often got the superhero costumes so painfully wrong, that it was almost tough to admit to anyone that you were a fan of comic books. Over the years, superheroes have undergone a lot of major changes to their costumes in many platforms, and these are five of the worst that we just can’t get over.
One thing I found most inexplicable about Albert Pyun’s 1990 “Captain America” adaptation is the curious presence of the cast of “A Christmas Story.” Either, they were in town for a press junket, or Pyun just loves the movie, because they appear throughout the film. Melinda Dillon has a walk on role as Steve Rogers’ mom who gives him a memento to take to the war with him, while Darren McGavin has a supporting role as a corrupt politician working with the Red Skull. What, did Peter Billingsley opt out of playing Bucky? In either case, director Albert Pyun does the best he can with so little, and 1990’s “Captain America” is still a terrible comic book movie, in spite of the nostalgia value it holds. Only real collectors will want to pick up this latest Shout Factory release, as director Pyun really doesn’t know how to construct a great Captain America movie.
What Joss Whedon has done is quite spectacular. He’s managed to take what could have been a complete clusterfuck of a movie and compacted every single hero and their mythos within two and a half hours, while also being able to introduce new heroes we can root for in the process. “The Avengers” is a true accomplishment of not only studio ambition but comic book cinema, a true masterpiece of the fantasy genre that piles together Marvel’s greatest heroes for a film many comic book fans have dreamed of having for decades. “The Avengers” incidentally is one of the many variations of Akira Kurosawa’s unparalleled masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” In “The Avengers” much like Kurosawa’s masterpiece, a thuggish villain rears his ugly head prepared to take down a land of innocent people for their own selfish purposes. Only when seven mismatched and unique heroes join forces and put aside their egos to defend the land does the villain meet his match. Ultimately while “The Avengers” is in fact an ambitious project that’s been planned from the get go, the film feels very meticulously crafted.
Fourth time’s a charm for Marvel who have finally stopped trying to retrofit their banner first tier character Captain America and just outright accepted that for better or for worse their most iconic superhero is meant for his time period, a time during world war II where Cap Am could mostly come to use to bring down the Nazis and the evil Hydra. Who better to bring this retro character to the big screen than Joe Johnston, a man who successfully brought us “The Rocketeer” in the early nineties? Much of that same child-like enthusiasm and movie serial aura is carried over in to this new version of Captain America where Marvel finally gets it right.
Whether we like it or not, from here on in Marvel Comics and Marvel Entertainment is officially owned by Disney Studios. What effect this will have on the comics and characters as a whole has yet to be fully realized, but many can agree one of the positive outcomes of this new ownership has been “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” a full fledged action adventure series starring all of the heroes we know and love fighting as one super team against Earth’s most impossible foes.
After a very disastrous animated attempt in the late nineties many fans recall with disgust, Disney has rebooted the animated franchise including all of our favorite heroes the aforementioned series failed to include and have considerably gone all out creatively and artistically. While the series will satisfy fans of the actual title, the intent of the series is to garner brand new fans of the titles and characters being pushed on a kids channel geared toward boys and will undoubtedly win over a brand new generation of true believers.
One of the more entertaining moments of “Next Avengers” involves the eventual emergence of the Incredible Hulk from the eccentric form of Bruce Banner, now a scientist in hiding. Watching the Hulk smash these cheesy robotic copies of the avengers was quite cathartic, and it’s also refreshing to see the team stick to the mold of Ultron as we know him, a corruptible and despicable technological force who will prove to the be prevalent menace if a series pans out. I also really enjoyed watching the original Thor talk to his daughter Torrum in the climax; it’s a surprisingly touching moment that may sell me on watching this with my nephew.
I was a little less forgiving for the sequel of “Ultimate Avengers” mainly because it was a sequel and I expected a lot from it, and mostly because it was so utterly disappointing. People whom have been following the “Ultimate Avengers” story, will be surprised to see that there are twists aplenty including some deaths of very important characters that could decide the fate of them all, and lead to rather sinister developments—but if you’ve read the comics, then you know what happens. Meanwhile, the animation is still rather excellent, especially since it’s darker and yet just as colorful as we previously remember. “Ultimate Avengers 2” is a lot of fun to look, but not suggested for kids. I wanted more of a story, more linear characterization, more personality, and I received just more of the first film. Surely, this adds a new character attempting to mix-up the chemistry and conflict, but it’s just a copy of the first in the end.