Comic book movies have come a long way. In the 70s we had some Captain America movies but in was in 1992 when the now defunct 21st Century Film studio made their attempt at bringing the 'first Avenger' to the big screen.
The movie was originally planned to be released in 1990 but it was tweaked a little and finally released on video in 1992 (with a theatrical release overseas).
The movie starred Matt Salinger as Captain America and Scott Paulin as the Red Skull (with Ned Beatty and Bill Mumy having smaller roles). The story was similar to what we know, Captain America was created in 1943, gets frozen and then revived today to try to save the world.
As for this release...it's the movie from 1992. It hasn't been remastered. It's not widescreen. Purist should love the fact that it's presented in its original form (since people are complaining about the upcoming Star Wars Blu-ray). There aren't any special features, besides the theatrical trailer. What you get is the movie that was made in 1990.
It's not just a straight adaptation of the Captain America mythos. For whatever reason, some changes were made. The biggest is the Red Skull's origin. He was a boy from Italy that was experimented on as the Fascist government tried creating a supersoldier. They never even mention his name being Johann Schmidt. The lead researcher wasn't Dr. Abraham Erskine but instead a scientist named Dr. Maria Vaselli. She then flees to America to set things in motion for Steve Rogers.
Speaking of Steve Rogers, he's supposed to be a frail kid that wasn't able to join the Army. It's mentioned here that it was because he had polio. The thing is, he didn't look too frail. They do add some muscle-growing effects when the experiment goes underway but there doesn't appear to be much of a difference.
As for the quality of the movie, there's no point in comparing to this year's Captain America release. You can see it was made with a much lower budget. In some ways, that works. The lab where Steve underwent his transformation looks more like what you would expect for the time. In The First Avenger, it almost looked too high tech and shiny. Captain America's costume also looks cheaper which makes sense again for the time.
This is by no means a great movie. As a piece of comic book movie history, it's worth checking out. If anything, it lets you see how much could be done on a lower budget. Some of the changes didn't make a lot of sense. There is quite a bit of cheesiness to the movie. The idea of Red Skull's daughter being the leader of his mini squad of thugs is enough to make you groan. There are plenty of moments that will make you scratch your head and wonder what was going on behind the scenes.
There might be some debate whether or not this should have been re-released. It's painful to watch at times and will make you laugh at other points. It's a valiant effort. If you haven't seen it, check it out. The retail price of $19.95 seems high for a DVD with no special features. Giving it a rating, I'd say it's a 2 out of 5. Check it out if you can find it cheaper and are really curious to see how Captain America works in this presentation.
Check out the trailer if you haven't seen it already.
And here's a couple more 'production' stills (they look better than the video version).