With Marvel's The Avengers about to hit theaters, I'm going to take a look back at the Star Spangled Hero and his A'MERICAN! can do attitude through the years!
The Marvel Super Heroes (1966)
Cap's first foray into TV was, like several other notable Marvel characters, on this 1960s animated series - loosely animated that is. The Marvel Super Heroes is famous and infamous for taking actual comic book frames and very crudely animating them. Still, this was the only way the time to see some of Captain America's comic book adventures sorta/kinda/well-not-really come to life and it has its nostalgic charms – especially the theme song, which lets you know what happens "When Captain America throws his mighty shield."
Amazingly, 46 years later, this remains the only ongoing Captain America solo series to date.
Captain America The TV Movies (1970s)
This Steve Rogers (played by Reb Brown) was not from World War II, but rather a modern day ex-Marine who drives around California in his van and explains, "I've been coming down the coast slow and easy. You know, kicking back." But it turns out his father invented "The ultimate steroid" and Steve is transformed into Captain America – wearing a goofy costume, that included a motorcycle helmet. Even when Steve got a second costume that was far more in line with the comics, he still NEVER dropped that motorcycle helmet – and THAT STUPID semi-transparent shield. Well, this Captain America never really felt like Captain America, and has some very cheesy, very late-1970s TV vibes running through it… though hey, at least Cap got to fight Christopher Lee in the sequel!
Spider-Man / Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981)
Cap made a few appearances in the two Spider-Man animated series that debuted nearly simultaneously in 1981. After having to suffer through the indignity of an episode of the solo Spider-Man series called "The Capture of Captain America," he would then return in the Amazing Friends episodes "7 Little Superheroes" (alongside a number of other guest stars, including Doctor Strange, Shana and Sub-Mariner) and "Pawns of the Kingpin."
Oddly, Cap doesn't appear in the episode of Amazing Friends featuring his arch-enemy the Red Skull as the primary villain - though the two did square off in the earlier Spider-Man solo series episode.
While another version of Cap appeared in the alternate reality episode "One Man's Worth," the real Captain America was seen in 1990s X-Men animated series episode "Old Soldiers." Taking a page from the comic books, we learned that Wolverine and Cap had fought alongside each other during World War II, and Cap was seen in this episode only in the midst of flashback sequences.
One thing though: Why does Captain America wear Superman-style red tights over his pants here?
While Captain America made several guest appearances on the popular 1990s Spider-Man animated series, his backstory – and more importantly his current status – was changed from the comic books. Here, Cap and The Red Skull both became trapped in a dimensional machine at the end of World War II, only to be freed in the midst of a Spider-Man storyline, thus making it clear Captain America has not been a modern day hero. Worse, Cap (and the Skull) keep being put back in that machine, at the end of the two major storylines he participates in on the show, including a version of Secret Wars.
Fun fact: The Spider-Man incarnation of Captain America was voiced by David Hayter, who's best known in the voice acting world for his role as Solid Snake, while he also went on to have a hand in writing X-Men and X2, among other films.
The Avengers: United They Stand (1999)
The first Avengers animated series didn't include the core three Avengers (Cap, Iron Man and Thor) as part of the regular cast, but Cap did guest star in one episode, "Command Decision." This episode featured the Masters of Evil and focused on Cap's history with Baron Zemo. Thankfully Cap was spared having to wear the goofy armor most of the the regular cast of characters on this series sported.
X-Men: Evolution (2000)
Another decade, another X-Men cartoon, and once again, a flashback story involving Wolverine and Captain America fighting alongside each other during World War II. One new layer added to their history in this incarnation was that the two heroes teamed together on a mission that resulted in saving Magneto himself, Erik Lehnsherr, as a boy. Like the 90s Spider-Man series, X-Men: Evolution wasn't so kind to modern day Cap, who was held in a stasis chamber, due to side effects from the super solider formula.
The Super Hero Squad Show (2009)
These days, Captain America can be seen on two different animated series, with very different tones. The very young-skewing, purposely goofy Super Hero Squad Show takes a humorous look at the idea of Cap being from another era – he can't seem to shut up about things that occurred way back when.
Black Panther (2010)
Voiced by Adrian Pasdar (Heroes), Captain America appeared in a World War II-era flashback on this short-lived animated series, where he faced off against a previous Black Panther, when Wakanda takes issue with his arrival and the war he brings with him. Wearing his original costume and shield, this was meant to be a very green version of Cap, who finds himself in over his head when he fights the Panther.The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
The other current Captain America TV incarnation is a regular part of the recent Avengers animated series, a much more true-to-the-comics version than the earlier Avengers show. As in classic Marvel lore, here the Avengers are the ones to find and rescue Cap, bringing him into the modern world. He retains much of his familiar comic book persona as a tough but fair man you most certainly want on your side in a fight….
So maybe the guy can finally get his own series again?
Ultimate Spider-Man (2012)
We haven't met him yet, but Captain America is slated to appear on Disney XD's new Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. In the show's premiere, Spidey did imagine Cap and Iron Man (the latter of who has since made an appearance), at least giving us the idea of how Steve Rogers will be dressed when he does come to the show.
Now enjoy some Captain America Entertainment!