Summary

  • Captain America (1990) is the lowest-rated Marvel movie on Rotten Tomatoes, with a critic score of 12%, and many critics citing it as a prime example of a bad superhero film.
  • Audiences were appalled by comic inaccuracies, cheesy script, and low budget, leading to an audience score of only 19% for the movie.
  • Despite a cult following for being so bad it’s good, seeing the early Captain America installment makes appreciating the MCU version easier.



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While the unfortunate accolade for the worst-rated MCU movie goes to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the worst-rated Marvel movie is one made 34 years ago that belongs to an original Avenger. Until MCU Phase 4, the MCU was practically unassailable regarding the Rotten Tomatoes scores, with even the worst-rated movies of the Infinity Saga, Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk earning 67% apiece. Unfortunately, Eternals and later Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania would score the franchise’s first and only “rotten” scores of 47% and 46%, respectively.


Still, these are far from the worst Marvel movies overall. While Marvel Studios, Fox, and Sony are largely responsible for the modern-day output of Marvel movies with the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, and the MCU timeline, the three studios didn’t always have such a stranglehold over the superhero genre. This, it turns out, was not such a good thing for Marvel’s reputation, as the studio suffered with installments like 1990’s Captain America.

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Captain America’s 1990 Movie Is Still The Lowest Rated Marvel Movie

Matt Salinger's Captain America giving a thumbs up in 1990


The 1990s were largely dominated by DC’s Batman movies, which would break box office records despite being critically middling. Unfortunately for Marvel, its handful of releases were not so popular, with Captain America and Generation X being two straight-to-video examples of Marvel’s pre-MCU teething problems. 1994’s The Fantastic Four, meanwhile, was never officially released and was ostensibly created so that Executive Producer Bernd Eichinger could keep the movie rights for Marvel’s First Family.

Yet none of these releases were quite so poorly rated asCaptain America, which sits at a paltry 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie tells a familiar story, with Steve Rogers’ genesis as Captain America following a similar structure to 2011’s Captain America. Creative liberties were taken with Red Skull, whose visage is decidedly less skull-like and who joins up with a crime family. While the movie earned a so-bad-it’s-good cult following, the consensus is that Captain America was a prime example of how a superhero movie shouldn’t be done.


Why Captain America 1990 Is So Bad

Matt Salinger's Captain America preparing to throw his shield in 1990

The ill-fated early attempt at a Captain America movie was lambasted for multiple sins, which were summed up by eFilmcritic.com’s Scott Weinberg’s quote:


This is what superhero flicks looked like before someone got a clue
.”

Several critics took aim at leading star Matt Salinger’s performance, which was not helped by the subpar script, which was criticized for being overly cheesy and stiff. A low budget also didn’t help the final product, which Rob Gonsalves of Rob’s Movie Vault called:

“One of the dumbest movies of all time.”

Director Albert Pyun also did not come out unscathed, with Variety’s Lawrence Cohn describing his direction as “leaden.”


Meanwhile, audiences – whose consensus score came out at a less brutal 19% – largely detail being appalled at the comic book inaccuracies, including the fact that Captain America steals a car in the movie. Yet similarly to Madame Web, which currently has the same critics’ consensus score of 12% on Rotten Tomatoes (but a much higher audience consensus score of 59%), there is a significant portion of the audience that appreciates its poor quality for the unintentional hilarity. Regardless, ticking Captain America off of the watchlist makes appreciating the MCU‘s rendition of the character a lot easier.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

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