Marvel Studios: A Difficult Start But A Fantastic Movie History Part 1
Formerly their projects for television and film had no kind of care or filter, the rights of the characters (now gold mines in Hollywood) sold for pittance, perhaps through carelessness of the executives of the time, and also the little appeal to the public. Only the main characters from the publisher had a chance on TV and in movies, Hulk was a success with the television series in 70 years, Spider-Man followed suit on TV, Captain America, has launched two TV movies, but all with very poor stories and low fidelity to the characters, which displeased the fans.
The one that was successful in this age of darkness was Conan the Barbarian which was published by Marvel Comics, with a big budget for the time and careful production it became a blockbuster film. The House of Ideas, also known as Marvel Comics, is one of the largest American comics publishers in the world and has a catalog of over five thousand characters.
Captain America, 1944
A wave of suspected suicides begins to occur between scientists and entrepreneurs, and all die holding a small beetle. The Mayor asks the police commissioner and prosecutor Grant Gardner to solve the case while waiting for Captain America, a masked man who helped defeat the crime in the past. The victims were members of an expedition to some Mayan civilization ruins. One of the few survivors, Professor Lyman, asks Dr. Maldor for help, but he turns out to be the man responsible for the deaths. Lyman developed the “Dynamic Vibrator” a device for mining operations that can be expanded and transformed into a devastating weapon. Using his “Purple Death”, a hypnotic chemical, he was able to stage the suicides, Dr. Maldor forces Lyman to disclose the location of the equipment. It is up to Captain America to stop the nefarious plans of the villain Beetle, which is actually Dr. Maldor. Trivia: It was a show that lasted 15 episodes, the secret identity of Captain America was not the rookie Steve Rogers, but, Grant Gardner, Public Prosecutor. The Captain had no shield and carried a pistol.
Original Title: Captain America Director: Elmer Clifton, John English Starring: Dick Purcell, Lorna Gray, Lionel Atwill, Charles Trowbridge, Russell Hicks, George J. Lewis, John Davidson Production: William J O’Sullivan Screenplay: Royal Cole, Harry Fraser, Joseph Poland, Ronald Davidson, Basil Dickey, Jesse Duffy, Grant Nelson Soundtrack: Mort Glickman Duration: B & W – 15 chapters – 243 min. Year: 1944 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Comics
Captain America, 1979
Steve Rogers (Reb Brown), an advertising designer suffers an attack by terrorists who were after the secrets of his late father. On the verge of death, he receives an injection of a super secret serum called FLAG, with it, he acquires superhuman strength and agility. The government than decides to tell him that his father was actually Captain America. Taking on the Captain America identity and with the support of the U.S. government, he must fight to combat the terrorist group that murdered his father and is threatening the security of the country with nuclear weapons. He had a van equipped with a motorcycle and a transparent bulletproof shield. Trivia: It was a movie made directly to TV. The look of the hero differs from the comics but just at the end of the movie he gets the original uniform of Captain America.
Original Title: Captain America Director: Rod Holcomb Cast: Reb Brown, Len Birman, Heather Menzies, Robin Mattson, Joseph Ruskin, Lance Legault Screenplay: Don Ingalls Soundtrack: Ted Roberts Duration: 120min. Year: 1979 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Comics
Captain America II – Death Too Soon, 1979
In the same year, Universal decided to produce the second tv film. This time the hero fights the mad scientist Michael, played by actor Christopher Lee, who intends to blackmail the U.S. government if his demands are not met. He will unleash a drug that causes accelerated aging in major American cities. In this production the uniform is closer to the comics, despite wearing a helmet as mask and the shield remaining transparent. In one memorable sequence, our hero to escape from a prison, with one arm throws his motorcycle over the wall of the prison and then jumps on her at full speed in the air, turning it into a glider and landing on a road in pursuit of the villain.
Original Title: Captain America II – Death Too Soon Director: Ivan Nagy Cast: Reb Brown, Connie Selleca, Len Birman and Christopher Lee Producer: Allan Balter and M. Martin Goldstein Writers: Patricia Payne and Wilton Schiller Music: Mike Post and Pete Carpenter Duration: 83 min. Year: 1979 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Comics
Howard – The Duck, 1986
A scientific experiment brings extraterrestrial life forms on planet Earth, among them Howard who is hit by the laser beam fired by the experimental machine. He is brought through the laser beam to the city of Cleveland, USA, where he meets a girl named Beverly (Lea Thompson) Cherry Bomb’s band leader, and she becomes his only friend. Howard must then try to adapt to the difficult life and local customs, things become worse when he discovers another alien that arrived on our planet, called Dark Overlord, which was also brought by the laser and wants to dominate our world. Trivia: This film was a box office flop and almost turned George Lucas production company broke.
Original Title: Howard – The Duck Director: Willard Huyck Cast: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, Paul Guilfoyle, Liz Sagal, Dominique Davalos Production: George Lucas and Gloria Katz Writers: Gloria Katz, Steve Gerber, Willard Huyck Soundtrack: John Barry Duration: 110 min. Year: 1986 Country: USA Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Fantasy
The Incredible Hulk Returns, 1988
Dr. David Banner is back! Two years after his last transformation, he is working on a research company on a way to get rid of the Hulk forever, while maintaining a relationship with a widow. Banner receives a visit from a former student called Donald Blake, who explains that he was a mystical bond with a Norse god, and to prove the validity of his story he summons Thor, causing Banner to turn into the Hulk. Thus, the two start fighting destroying the laboratory and all of Banner’s research. Trivia: Movie made for TV. Thor is the first Marvel character to appear in this television series nest to the Hulk.
Original title: The Incredible Hulk Returns Director: Nicholas Corea Cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin, Lee Purcell, Charles Napier, Eric Allan Kramer, Steve Levitt Production: Bill Bixby and Nicholas Corea Writers: Stan Lee and Nicholas Corea Soundtrack Lance Rubin Duration: 88 min. Year: 1988 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, 1989
While trying to stop a robbery in the subway, David Banner is arrested and charged with assault and defended by a blind attorney named Matt Murdock (Rex Smith, from the former sitcom Motolaser). But when the Hulk freaks out and escapes from jail, Murdock tries to help him and reveals his own secret to Banner,he is in fact a masked vigilante known as Daredevil. These two men with unusual powers must join forces to defeat an international crime syndicate, led by none other than the Kingpin. Trivia: directed by Bill Bixby, the movie is the first of its kind to contain a cameo by Stan Lee, creator of countless characters from Marvel Comics. Its the first appearance of Daredevil, the blind hero Marvel on television.
Original title: The Trial of the Incredible Hulk Director: Bill Bixby Cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Marta DuBois, Nancy Everhard, Rex Smith, John Rhys-Davies Production: Bill Bixby and Gerald Di Pego Writer: Gerald Di Pego Music: Lance Rubin Duration: 95 min. Year: 1989 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama
The Death of the Incredible Hulk, 1990
David Banner and Dr. Ronald Pratt tried to undertake a project to get rid of the monstrous alter ego of Banner, The Incredible Hulk. A spy named Jasmine attempts to steal the information that Dr. Pratt found about the Hulk and deliver it to terrorists to turn them into men with immense power, but the spy falls in love with David Banner and the two get involved. In the film’s climax, the hostages are freed from the terrorists and the villains flee by plane. But before the plane takes off, the Hulk grabs it, a gun shot hits the fuel tank making the aircraft exploded, killing Hulk. Trivia: It was the third and last TV movie made for the character of the Hulk. The intention of the producers was to present the She-Hulk in a fourth film, titled Revenge of the Incredible Hulk, where Banner would control the monster, but with the death of Bill Bixby in 1993 the project was canceled.
Original title: The Death of the Incredible Hulk Director: Bill Bixby Cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Elizabeth Gracen, Philip Sterling, Barbara Tarbuck, Anna Katarina Producer: Robert Ewing and Hugh Spencer Phillips Writer: Gerald Di Pego Music: Lance Rubin Duration: 95 min. Year: 1990 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama
The Punisher, 1989
The police are on alert due to a series of recent murders. Determined to end the crime wave, Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren) decides to investigate the case. Castle is a former police officer seeking revenge since his wife and son were murdered by the mafia, and since then as devoted himself to fighting crime on the streets. When Castle believes that the organization is nearly destroyed, he starts facing a new criminal group that aims to to become the new mafia. Trivia: At the time the producers did not want to fully embrace the look of the comics (even the white skull on his chest), they were afraid that the character would instigate acts of violence.
Original title: The Punisher Director: Mark Goldblatt Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett, Jr., Kim Miyori, Jeroen Krabbé, Bryan Marshall Producer: Robert Mark Kamen Screenplay: Boaz Yakin Soundtrack: Dennis Dreith Duration: 92 min. Year: 1989 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure
Captain America, 1990
During World War II, american soldier Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) undergoes a military experiment led by scientist Maria Vaselli (Carla Cassola) to become a supersoldier. He becomes Captain America. However, the doctor responsible for the secret of turning a human into a supersoldier is dead, thwarting a plan to create several others like him. In combat against the Red Skull (Scott Paulin), a supersoldier created by the Nazis, Captain America is stuck in a rocket, which is on route to the White House. The hero manages to divert the rocket’s path, but ends up falling in Alaska, where he is frozen until the 1990s. After waking up from the hibernation, he discovers that the Red Skull is alive and wants to kidnap President Tom Kimball and use a revolutionary technique to take the place of the President of the United States. Trivia: Dolph Lundgren and Arnold Schwarzenegger were listed to play Captain America.
Original Title: Captain America Director: Albert Pyun Cast: Matt Salinger, Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, Michael Nouri, Scott Paulin Producer: Menahem Golan, Stan Lee, Joseph Calamari, Tom Karnowski Screenplay: Stephen Tolkin, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon Soundtrack: Barry Goldberg Duration: 103 min. Year: 1990 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Comics
Fantastic Four, 1994
It all starts with Dr. Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom, a few years ago, in a scientific experiment to capture the cosmic rays of a spacial phenomenon called “Colossus”, everything goes wrong and Victor is presumed dead after the event. Years later, Dr. Richard corrects the errors that caused the accident and goes into space with his pilot, Ben Grimm, taking also siblings Susan and Johnny Storm. It turns out that his ship did not have adequate protection to cosmic rays and everything goes wrong… again. They wake up back on earth, amidst the wreckage of the ship, but find it strange not to have been destroyed along with it. At this point, Dr. Doom comes in, who captures the heroes. They must now use their new powers to defeat the villain and protect humanity. Trivia: so bad that it was never even released. The uniforms of the characters are true to the comics, with special attention to Dr. Doom.
Original Title: Fantastic Four Director: Oley Sassone Cast: Alex Hyde-White, Jay Underwood, Rebecca Staab, Michael Bailey Smith, Joseph Culp Producer: Steven Rabiner, Roger Corman, Bernd Eichinger Screenplay: Craig J. Nevius, Kevin Rock Soundtrack: David Wurst, Eric Wurst Duration: 90 min. Year: 1994 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Generation X, 1996
They are mutants and live in a world that hates and fears their skills. They live in the Xavier School for Gifted Students, a private and selective school only for mutants. The students are taught by two adult mutants: telepath Emma Frost (Finola Hughes) the White Queen, and Sean Cassidy (Jeremy Ratchford), Banshee, an Irishman who has a sonic scream capable of cracking steel. The villain of the story is Russell Trask (Matt Frewer), a mad scientist who wants to use mutants to advance his evil plans. When he discovers that the White Queen, his old adversary, is teaching a group of young mutants, he decides to kidnap mutants for his experiments. The young mutants are: Jubilee, Skin, Mondo, Buff and Refrax. Trivia: made for TV movie.
Original Title: Generation X Director: Jack Sholder Cast: Heather McComb, Agustin Rodriguez, Amarilis Samon, Bumper Robinson, Suzanne Davis, Randall Slavin, Finola Hughes, Jeremy Ratchford, Matt Frewer. Production: Stan Lee Screenplay: Eric Blakeney Soundtrack: David Sibley Duration: 87 min. Year: 1996 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Nick Fury – Agent of Shield, 1998
Nick Fury is retired, but he is called to return to his old secret agent job. Nick Fury is approached to return to duty to take down agents of the terrorist organization HYDRA, led by the children of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, an old enemy of his. HYDRA has reconstituted a pathogen known as the Death’s Head virus, and threatens to attack Manhattan with it, barring payment of US $1 billion.
Original Title: Nick Fury – Agent of ShieId Director: Rod Hardy Cast: David Hasselhoff, Lisa Rinna, Sandra Hess, Neil Roberts, Garry Chalk Producer: Avi Arad Written by: David S. Goyer Music: Kevin Kiner and Gary Lionelli Duration: 120 min. Year: 1998 Country: USA Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Tune in next week for part 2 where we will take a look at movie pearls such as Blade, X-Men and Fantastic Four!
NOTE: Second part already available, click the link: Part 2