An Earlier Avenger
Having just returned from serving in the Marine Corps, Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) just wants to do some travelling, some painting and enjoying life for a while as he tries to work out what he really wants. But Steve's father was a very important American who created the FLAG formula which when injected into the right recipient could turn them into a super human and according to his father's old partner Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman) Steve might hold the key to making the formula work. But there are those involved in criminal enterprises who will do anything to prevent this from happening and that means killing Steve. When Steve ends up in an "accident" and may not survive Dr. Mills takes the decision to inject him with the FLAG formula and it not only heals him but turns him in to a super human. When it becomes clear that those behind the attack are trying to build an atomic bomb the government and Dr. Mills supply Steve with a pimped out motorbike and a collection of gadgets, including a bullet proof shield, so he can not only stop those who attacked him but by becoming a protector known as Captain America.
Whilst I never watched this version of "Captain America" when it came out I was a child back in the 70s and 80s and as such I am of an age where Nicholas Hammond was Spider-Man, Lou Ferrigno was The Incredible Hulk and Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman. It is kind of an important thing because as I sat watching this 1979 version of "Captain America" it took me back to my childhood yet I knew the whole time that its 70s cheesiness whilst making me smile would easily make younger audiences who discovered this now groan.
Now this version of "Captain America" was made for TV and I am pretty sure it was made as a pilot for a TV series which didn't materialise although it was followed by "Captain America II: Death Too Soon". As such what we get in this TV movie is in essence an origins story where we learn that Steve's father was an American hero and that Steve grew up in military school before doing the right thing by joining the Marines. We also get to see Steve's friendship with Dr. Mills as well as a romantic relationship with his assistant. Of course this is very different to the more recent origin story but kind of entertaining in a semi cheesy manner. Okay it is seriously cheesy but that is a big part of what makes this version of "Captain America" entertaining rather than the storyline and what the bad guys are up to.
As for the acting in "Captain America" well Len Birman makes for a good Dr. Mills as he has that gravitas in his voice but a friendliness to his persona which makes for a good figure of seniority. And then here is Reb Brown who makes Steve Rogers a soft spoken but extremely muscular all American hero. Whilst the acting from Brown wasn't great he did make Roger's an all round nice guy and the sort of hero which many young children would have wanted to be like which lets be honest was pretty important when it came to this era of super hero movies.
What this all boils down to is that this 1979 version of "Captain America" is undeniably cheesy but for those who grew up watching the antics of 70s super heroes this is cheesy fun and lots of it.