Most people are of the impression that Marvel Comics adaptations in the media began around 2000 with the likes of Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), Spider-Man (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hulk (2003), The Punisher (2004), Elektra (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), Ghost Rider (2007), Iron Man (2008) and Thor (2011). This was is in fact the second wave of Marvel screen adaptations. (Maybe third if you want to count the various animated series of the 1990s). Around 1977-9 there was a package of Marvel adaptations on the small screen these included the tv series The Amazing Spiderman (1977-9), which also had three theatrical films made up out of its episodes with Spider-Man (1977), Spider-Man Strikes Back (1979) and Spiderman and the Dragons Challenge (1981); the Bill Bixby The Incredible Hulk (1977-81), which also released its pilot as a film with The Incredible Hulk (1977); and a pilot film based on Dr. Strange (1978) that failed to go to series. Amid these, someone also decided to make two tv pilots out of Captain America. Both of these were miserable failures that were widely ridiculed by Marvel Comics fans.
In 1979, the predominating view of screen superheroics was formed by tvs The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-8) and The New Original Wonder Woman (1975-7). In particular, this spurt of interest in Marvel Comics properties emerged out of the big screen success of the Christopher Reeve Superman (1978). These series featured superheroes who had powers but menaces that were invariably mundane, as though the writers and directors of the day were unable to conceive of plots that were anything more than ordinary crime and spy thrillers the utterly routine plot here about criminals building their own neutron bomb could easily have served as an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. There is also some decidedly daft plotting the bad guys spend the entire film trying to kill Steve Rogers, yet no reason is ever established as to why they want to do this. He does not receive the F.L.A.G. serum and become Captain America until after they succeed in killing him and at no point do they demonstrate any knowledge about his fathers experiments so why exactly they want to eliminate him becomes a big mystery.
Not many of the abovementioned Marvel tv series did a particularly good job of respecting the basics of the comic-book. One of the essences of Captain America is that he was created as a super-soldier during World War II with the addition of the later retcon where he was frozen and then thawed out to continue on his activities in the present. The film abandons any connection to World War II and has Captain America being created from scratch in the present-day. This Captain America is very much a 1970s superhero he rides a motorcycle that bursts out the back of a panel van via a rocket launcher that carries it for about four feet (something that is in the comic-book, although only looks absurd on screen), while familiar aspects of the Captain America costume have been downplayed the shield is little more than a semi-transparent frisbee, the costume (when it turns up around the 70 minute mark) is little more than a spandex motorcycle racers jumpsuit with a visored stars-and-stripes motorcycle helmet. In fact, this seems less the Captain America of Marvel Comics than it does Captain America by way of Evel Knievel.
Captain America is largely killed off by Rod Holcombs direction. In all likelihood, Holcomb obtained the assignment after making his directorial debut with several episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man. The pacing of the show is dismal and plodding. There is something frustratingly insipid to the scenes where Rod Holcomb shows filler shots of Reb Browns panel van driving along the California coast and the score jumps in with over melodramaticised flourishes trying to make something as mundane as a detour down a country road into the dramatic. The film is padded with helicopter shots of Captain Americas motorcycle racing through the desert that go on for several minutes. The superheroics are so lame that it is hard to think that those responsible would seriously have thought that Captain America would have had any appeal to anybody over the single digit age range. As though this is where the films pitch lies, the action has been watered down in absurd ways so that Captain America never actually does any violence on screen he throws people out of a helicopter but they land in a lake below, while in the worst scene, Reb Brown punctures an oil drum while looking on at bad guys skidding and falling over with a big goofy grin. In the films favour, Reb Brown has a certain lunkheaded amiability as Steve Rogers and projects a heroic decency that works for the film.
A further Captain America tv pilot was made with Captain America II (1979) also starring Reb Brown. Captain America was subsequently remade on the big-screen with Albert Pyuns cheap Captain America (1990) starring Matt Salinger and as the big-budget Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) starring Chris Evans and its sequels Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016), while Evans subsequently played the role in the Marvel Comics team-ups The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). There was also an earlier serial version Captain America (1944) starring Dick Purcell. The Captain America story is also told in the animated Ultimate Avengers (2006) and he appears in other Marvel animated films such as Ultimate Avengers II (2006) and Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008).