Captain America
Captain America serial.jpg
Director: Elmer Clifton
John English
Writer(s): Royal Cole
Harry Fraser
Ronald Davidson
Basil Dickey
Jesse Duffy
Grant Nelson
Joseph Poland
Release Date: February 5, 1944
Running Time: 244 mins
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Captain America is a Republic serial film loosely based on the Timely Comics character Captain America. It was the last Republic serial made about a superhero. It also has the distinction of being the most expensive serial that Republic ever made.

The serial sees Captain America, really District Attorney Grant Gardner, trying to thwart the plans of The Scarab, really museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor - especially regarding his attempts to acquire the "Dynamic Vibrator" and "Electronic Firebolt", devices that could be used as super-weapons.

In a rare plot element for Republic, the secret identity of the villain is known to the audience from the beginning, if not to the characters in the serial. The studio's usual approach was the use of a mystery villain who was only unmasked as one of the other supporting characters in the final chapter.


A rash of suspicious suicides among scientists and businessmen, all found holding a small scarab, gets the attention of Mayor Randolph. He demands that Police Commissioner Dryden and District Attorney Grant Gardner get to the bottom of the case, while openly wishing that Captain America, a masked man who has helped defeat crime in the past, were around to solve the mystery.

All of the suicides were members of an expedition to some Mayan ruins. One of the few remaining survivors, Professor Lyman, turns to his friend Dr Maldor for support. Dr Maldor, however, reveals that he is the man responsible for the deaths. He wants revenge because he planned and organised the expedition but everyone else claimed the fame and fortune. However, Lyman has developed the "Dynamic Vibrator" - a device intended for mining operations but one that can be amplified into a devastating weapon. Using his "Purple Death", a hypnotic chemical responsible for the suicides, Dr Maldor forces Lyman to disclose the location of his plans.

Captain America intervenes as the Scarab's heavies attempt to steal the plans and this leads to a sequence of plots by the Scarab to acquire a working version, as well as other devices, while trying to eliminate the interfering Captain before he succeeds in discovering Dr Maldor's true identity or defeats him.


There are fifteen chapters in the serial all totalling around 15 minutes and 30 seconds long except for the first chapter which was 25 minutes and 40 seconds long. The chapters are as follows:

  1. The Purple Death
  2. Mechanical Executioner
  3. The Scarlet Shroud
  4. Preview of Murder
  5. Blade of Wrath
  6. Vault of Vengeance
  7. Wholesale Destruction
  8. Cremation in the Clouds
  9. Triple Tragedy
  10. The Avenging Corpse
  11. The Dead Man Returns
  12. Horror on the Highway
  13. Skyscraper Plunge
  14. The Scarab Strikes
  15. The Toll of Doom



  • The serial's producers admit they cast Purcell as Captain America despite him being overweight. Purcell died weeks after filming.
  • Lionel Atwill plays The Scarab, an original character who did not appear in the comics. A year earlier Atwill had protrayed criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, one of his only non-horror roles in film.


External links

Captain America
Captain America | Captain America: The First Avenger | The Avengers | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Captain America: Civil War | Avengers: Infinity War | Avengers: Endgame
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