The Forgotten 1979 Captain America Movies and Why They Flopped

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has solidified Captain America as one of its cornerstone heroes, thanks to blockbuster films like Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, not all Captain America adaptations have achieved such acclaim. Let’s dive into the forgotten and poorly received Captain America movies from the late 1970s and explore why they missed the mark.

The 1979 Live-Action Captain America Movies

Captain America (1979)

The first live-action adaptation of Captain America debuted on television in 1979, directed by Rod Holcomb. This version of Steve Rogers, played by Reb Brown, deviated significantly from the source material.

Plot Summary: Steve Rogers is a former Marine turned artist. After being nearly killed, he is given a FLAG serum (a far cry from the iconic super-soldier serum) which transforms him into Captain America.

Costume and Gear: Sporting a cheap-looking patriotic costume and a see-through shield that doubles as a motorcycle windscreen, this Captain America lacked the visual appeal fans expected.

Villain and Finale: The movie ends with Rogers thwarting a villain’s bomb plot and receiving an upgraded costume that once belonged to his father.

Captain America II: Death Too Soon

The sequel, Captain America II: Death Too Soon, directed by Ivan Nagy, saw Reb Brown reprising his role. This installment attempted to raise the stakes but fell flat.

Plot Summary: Captain America faces off against General Miguel (played by Christopher Lee), who threatens a city with a rapid-aging serum.

Reception: Despite featuring a notable actor like Christopher Lee, the movie failed to leave a lasting impression and is largely forgotten today.

Why These Movies Were Forgettable

Low Budget and Poor Production

Both films suffered from a shoestring budget (estimated at $150,000) and lackluster production values. This resulted in:

Unconvincing Special Effects: The visual effects were subpar, making the action sequences appear campy.

Weak Storylines: The plots were simplistic and failed to capture the complexity of the Captain America character.

Lack of Comics-Accuracy

Deviation from Source Material: The movies took significant liberties with the character’s origins and powers, which alienated fans of the comics.

Absence of Iconic Characters: Aside from Steve Rogers, no other Marvel characters were featured, limiting the films’ appeal.

Surprising Influence on the Comics

Introduction of Artistic Steve Rogers

Despite their flaws, these films had an unexpected impact on the comics. The 1979 Captain America movie portrayed Steve Rogers as an artist, a trait that later made its way into the comics.

Comics Adaptation: In Captain America #237, Steve Rogers takes up art after Sharon Carter’s death. This artistic background became a recurring element in his character’s storylines.

MCU Influence: This aspect of Rogers’ character was subtly referenced in the MCU, with scenes showing him drawing in Captain America: The First Avenger and a deleted scene from The Avengers.


The 1979 Captain America movies are a far cry from the beloved MCU films we know today. Despite their flaws, these early adaptations had a surprising influence on the character’s portrayal in comics and later adaptations. As we look back, it’s clear that even the worst attempts at bringing superheroes to the screen can leave a lasting legacy.

Sharing Is Caring:

Founder of Comicphase and based in New York in the United States. With a decade-long journey of tracking the Marvel library, Ben initiated the website in 2022. His unwavering passion for all things Marvel Comics, Movies, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fuels his dedication. Ben’s pursuit of a degree in Media Studies further honed his storytelling and analytical skills, making him a valuable source for in-depth Marvel insights. | Contact:

Leave a Comment