Captain America In Animation - A Retrospective
Part One -
Part Two -
Part Three -
The first animated appearance of Captain America of the decade came as a cameo in X-Men in Red Dawn as he appears in Wolverine’s flashback as he remembers how he originally defeated Omega Red in the Soviet Union. He doesn’t speak and I’m still not entirely sure what he was doing there, but back in the day, I thought it was awesome seeing Captain America on TV.
Larry Houston obviously loves his cameos in Marvel cartoons, as Captain America again appeared alongside The Avengers fighting the all powerful Dr. Doom in the show’s finale Doomsday. The model is clearly based on George Perez’s depiction of the Captain but only appears for a fraction of a second. Still cool though.
He would make his next full fledged appearance in a stunningly awesome scene in Spider-Man: The Animated Series season four. The episode entails The Kingpin Of Crime trying to find the secret to the super soldier formula and kidnapping John Hardesky, the one person still alive who knows the ingredients to the drug. As Peter begins to research why Dr. Octopus would be interested in Felicia’s Mother’s past and “borrows” some of SHIELD’s files, he discovers that Hardesky, as a young man, was present at Captain America’s origin which turned skinny Steve Rogers into the Allies ultimate weapon. Cap’s appearance came from nowhere – this wasn’t your average team up, you could tell they were building things up with Captain America. A small cameo from The Red Skull is also shown, as it reveals he is the leader of the group of people who tricked Hardesky into trying to steal the super solider formula.
The same formula later gave The Black Cat her powers but it wouldn’t be the last time Cap played a part in the life of Peter Parker and his amazing alter ego when he learns that his dead parents might have actually been traitors in World War II. He tricks J. Jonah Jameson into buying his plane ticket to Russia after he lies and says Spider-Man is beginning his plan for world domination – starting with the reds!
Whilst over there, Peter and Robbie learn that The Red Skull, one of the Nazi’s leading generals, was planning on creating a Doomsday Device in the US and Parker’s parents had to pose as spies in order to learn exactly what the device was and how to defeat it, should it actually be activated. They kept a nice mystery running as to what the devise actually was throughout the story until the big reveal at the end.
Spider-Man is forced to team up with several superheroes from the Timely era to stop The Kingpin and his Insidious Six, the son of The Red Skull before Peter is eventually told what happened to the weapon in 1945. This was actually one of the highlights of the story arc for me as Omar Mosely told the story of the Captain’s final fight with the Red Skull due to the brilliant casting of Paul Winfield. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but will forever remembered as one of the greats to me. There are very few people who match his natural storytelling ability.
Captain America eventually returns in The Six Fight Again as Reinholt manages to open the portal which held Cap and The Skull captive. The Doomsday Device is also revealed – in a massive shock, it turns The Skulls son into Electro! A lot of folks didn’t agree with this, as Electro was a loser who is given God like abilities, only to prove that a loser with the power to control electricity is still a loser.
I admit to being a little disappointed with Cap’s design here. The costume itself isn’t too bad, but the choice of colouring is way off. Cap to me, should be a proud symbol of the red, white and blue – the colours should pretty much be taken from the flag. The blue is a strange teal colour and the red seems a little dull for my liking. Considering that most of the guest stars did look pretty good in the show, it’s sad to see Cap looking so bland. Hell, even most of the other Six Forgotten Warriors looked better. He doesn’t quite have that voice that could command Gods either, but to be fair, I think that Captain America is always going to be a character that is difficult to cast.
Not a bad effort for the good Captain, but a little tame when compared to the other excellent guest stars from the show, including Daredevil, The X-Men and even Iron Man.
Cap would return just a few mere handful of episodes later. In a final effort to prove his worth, The Beyonder challenged Spider-Man to prove which is mightier, good or evil?
He did so by littering the universe’s closest thing to paradise with supervillains – Dr. Doom, Smythe, The Lizard, The Red Skull, Dr. Octopus and let them run wild for a year, allowing them to lay waste to the place.
Beyond allowed Spider-Man to choose several people to help him clean up the planet and defeat the supervillains, on the condition that he himself lead them into battle. People have complained about this angle for years but I don’t see why they would do it any other way – this is Spider-Man’s show, Spider-Man should be the leader. Simple as that.
He was careful with his selection, assessing his enemies and then deciding who would be best to transport. Noting that he has never faced Dr. Doom before, he logically selects The Fantastic Four, despite the fact he’d never met them before. He chooses Storm for her power (and to keep the budget down, it was too pricey to fly the rest of the X-Men cast over from Canada), Iron Man because they were friends from their battle with Venom, Carnage and Dormammu and finally, Captain America because he was once again forced to battle The Red Skull.
I personally thought this story was great – it does dip slightly in part two, but Cap gets plenty of action here as he questions Spider-Man rather naïve leadership skills and begins to fall for The Black Cat. He also disagrees with Spider-Man on his plan to help the rebels of the planet defeat The Red Skull, dismissing his idea as unachievable.
Three episodes to fully utilise the vast amount of characters isn’t really enough so there’s nothing especially brilliant about Cap’s presentation here, but there is a lot fun to be had. It was basically one final test before Spider-Man faces his ultimate challenge, which is how it should be done. This was Spidey’s show – Spidey should take centre stage.
So that’s it for Captain America and Spidey. How did everyone else handle Cap?