Less than a year after the Universal pilot of Captain America aired, they gave him another shot with Captain America II (the DVD box and IMDB list the full title as Captain America II: Death Too Soon, but that title does not appear on screen). With the origin story out of the way, this film would let us see what a subsequent Captain America series would have looked like.
The film opens with Steve Rogers driving his sweet, sweet love machine van down a coastal highway.
Wait a second, that looks familiar. Yeah, they just reused the footage from the first movie. Steve ends up at Venice Beach, painting a portrait of an old woman, until she’s almost run over by rogue Frisbee player. She tells Steve that a local gang has been mugging old people, stealing their money after they cash their Social Security checks.
So Steve, gentle and protective soul that he is, tells the old woman to go cash her check right away. That’s right, he sends her off to be bait. And when the bad guys snatch her purse, Captain America leaps into action.
He gets the lady’s purse back, then faces off against one of the gang toughs, who pulls a switchblade. So we finally get to see Steve use the shield that we were told (but never shown) in the first movie was a lethal weapon. But instead of flinging the shield hard at his enemy, Steve gives it a gentle toss, like he’s playing Frisbee with a kid.
The thug dodges easily. But the shield reverses direction and wafts gently back to bump the back of his head.
This, of course, is enough to knock the thug cold. Cap then runs after the thug’s accomplice in a dune buggy. That’s right, runs, even though he’s standing two feet away from his motorcycle when he sees the dude take off. He catches the dune buggy and grabs the guy right out of it (and there’s a little continuity bump where he loses his gloves for a second).
So of course, the rest of the gang swears revenge, right? Nope, actually, that entire storyline is done. That was just to showcase Steve’s powers and dual identity. Now the real story begins with the disappearance of Dr. Ilson.
Ilson is another researcher working for Simon Mills, Steve’s boss. He has been working on a formula to stop the aging process. Problem is, in order to test it, he came up with a formula to accelerate the aging process first. Which would be bad if it fell into the wrong hands.
Say, the hands of international terrorist Miguel, played by Christopher Lee.
Miguel is posing as the warden of a prison, where he has Ilson imprisoned while he makes the formula. It’s a good cover.
So Steve brainstorms with Mills and Dr. Wendy Day (who has had a makeover since the last film–she’s now played by Connie Sellecca instead of Heather Menzies). Ilson requires special substances for his formula, which mainly come from Ecuador. Just as the bug in the corner is announcing the end of the reel, Steve decides to investigate a pier where a shady ship from Ecuador just docked.
You think he might use stealth, just in case there’s nothing to back up his suspicions, but no, Steve just storms onto the pier, beats up the longshoremen, and busts open a crate containing the drugs. He takes a bag, which Wendy analyzes.
Meanwhile, some dudes come to pick up the drugs. They don’t notice the missing packet, and the guys on the dock barely even mention getting beaten up by Captain America. Steve follows the drug shipment to a small town.
This is not a nice town. There are thugs running around, a vet who knows nothing about animals, but who is giving injections to everyone in town, and now Steve, who has taken a real shine to Peter, the young son of hot young widow Helen Moore.
Finally, Steve is confronted by a group of thugs led by Bill Lucking, who has played over 150 roles mostly on television and played Renny in George Pal’s 1975 film adaptation of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. There’s a fight. Steve’s shirt is torn.
Steve wins, and suddenly the hot widder Helen, who has told him multiple times to leave her alone and get out of town, is mighty interested. She can barely hold back from rubbing her crotch.
Steve doesn’t have time to enjoy Helen’s hospitality for long, because he gets arrested for fighting. He breaks out of jail, changes into his costume, and rides out of town on his motorcycle, only to plummet to his death off a dam.
Miguel takes the next step in his plan by skywriting “SMILE” in the sky over Portland, Oregon with the aging compound. This girl might be nervous if it didn’t smell so good.
Both she, and the guy beside her, have ties to other Marvel properties. Lachelle Chamberlain’s first role was Miss Teenage USA in an episode of the short-lived Amazing Spider-Man TV series. The guy’s name is Alex Hyde-White, who later played Reed Richards in the legendary Roger Corman version of Fantastic Four that was never officially released.
Miguel demands a ransom of $2 billion for the antidote.
Steve appears in Helen’s kitchen with no explanation for why he’s still alive, but he finally learns what’s going on. Long story short, everybody in town has been dosed with the aging formula. The “vet” gives them regular shots to hold the effects at bay, but if they make trouble, they get no shots, age and die. Helen helps Steve figure out where the doctor is taking the drugs by reading the odometer.
So Steve heads to the prison on his amazingly also-not-destroyed motorcycle. He faces off against some friendly dogs and frees Ilson.
but Miguel escapes with the aging compound. Steve does a jet-assisted motorcycle jump off the prison wall, and next thing you know, he’s thousands of feet up and has deployed a hang glider out of his super-motorcycle.
Leading up to his final confrontation with Miguel. Steve tries that trick with gently tossing the shield again, but Miguel dodges it easily before bragging about his prowess as a “jungle fighter.” As a last-ditch effort, Miguel throws a bottle of aging compound at Steve, but Steve shatters it with his shield and it splatters into Miguel instead.
And Christopher Lee, who has been kind of sleepwalking through the whole thing, does this amazing bit with his face, where he draws it up into wrinkles and seems to age 10 years in seconds.
So Miguel is dead, Ilson is free, his antidote is perfected and the people of Portland are saved. But Captain America was not so lucky. After this second movie, the series was never green-lit. Which is really just as well.
Next week: Captain America returns to the big screen… or not.