The Return of Captain Invincible

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The Return of Captain Invincible
DVD cover
Directed by Philippe Mora
Produced by Brian Burgess
Andrew Gaty
Written by Steven E. de Souza
Andrew Gaty
Peter Smalley
Starring Alan Arkin
Christopher Lee
Kate Fitzpatrick
Bill Hunter
Music by Richard Hartley
William Motzing
Richard O'Brien
Cinematography Mike Molloy
Edited by John Scott
Distributed by Seven Keys
Release date
  • 11 June 1983 (1983-06-11)
Running time
96 min
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$7 million[1]
Box office AU$55,110 (Australia)

The Return of Captain Invincible is a 1983 Australian musical comedy superhero film starring Alan Arkin and Christopher Lee. It grossed a mere $55,110 at the Australian box office despite a budget of $7 million.[2]

British fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett called The Return of Captain Invincible "a series of bad moments pasted together with great songs and a budget of fourpence," but said that he had watched the film a number of times.[3]


The plot involves the Captain America/Superman inspired super-hero called "Captain Invincible" (also known as "Legend in Leotards", "The Caped Contender", and "Man of Magnet") who is active during Prohibition, World War II, and afterwards. Once a popular hero to all Americans, he is forced into retirement by McCarthy-style government persecution in the 1950s.

A congressional investigation accuses him of being a communist, citing his red cape and "premature anti-fascism". He is charged with violating U.S. airspace by flying without a proper license, impersonating a military officer, and wearing underwear in public. He disappears from the public eye, moving to Australia and becoming an alcoholic.

Thirty years later, his old rival, the super-villain "Mr. Midnight", re-emerges and steals a secret government super-weapon: the hypno-ray. The US government asks Captain Invincible to return, and the story follows his attempts to return to super-heroing and redeem his reputation.


  • Alan Arkin as Captain Invincible, US superhero who fought for the allies during WWII, but fell on hard times.
  • Christopher Lee as Mr. Midnight, Invincible's nemesis; dedicated to evil, his latest plan involves the eradication of the ethnic minorities in New York.
  • Kate Fitzpatrick as Patty Patria, Australian policewoman who helps Invincible get back to his former glory.
  • Michael Pate as The US President, who as a child met Invincible. The meeting left an impression on him.


The Return of Captain Invincible was directed by Philippe Mora. It was produced by Seven Keys Production and Willara and distributed by Seven Keys in Australia. It was scheduled for release in the US by Jensen Farley Pictures, but the company went out of business days before the scheduled national opening; it was later offered on American VHS and laserdisc by Magnum Entertainment. A widescreen DVD later followed from Elite Entertainment Inc. It was filmed in Australia.

Lyricist Richard O'Brien and composer Richard Hartley, known for their prior collaboration on The Rocky Horror Show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, contributed three songs, including "Captain Invincible" sung by O'Brien, "Evil Midnight" sung by Lee and Arkin, and "Name Your Poison" sung by Lee during which the evil Mr. Midnight tempts the alcoholic Captain Invincible with a well-stocked bar.

After the film was finished, producer Andrew Gaty, acting on the advice of his American distributor, recut the film. Mora objected and the matter wound up before the Minister of Home Affairs, Tom McVeigh. McVeigh declared that the film was not "Australian" and thus did not qualify for the 150% tax deduction available for investors. Gaty challenged this decision in court and won.[4][5]


The Return of Captain Invincible was met with mixed reviews, earning an Audience score of 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, with no actual approval rating.


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(1983 AFI Awards)
Best Production Design David Copping Nominated
Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival Grand Prize Philippe Mora Nominated
Sitges Film Festival Caixa de Catalunya for Best Special Effects Bob McCarron Won


  1. ^ Anna Dzenis, "The Return of Captain Invincible", Australian Film 1978-1992, Oxford Uni Press, 1993 p137
  2. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  3. ^ Terry Pratchett Quotes
  4. ^ Parliamentary Paper No. 173/1987 Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations: The circumstances surrounding the various court actions relating to the film The Return of Captain Invincible
  5. ^ David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p79

External links

  • The Return Of Captain Invincible on IMDb
  • The Return of Captain Invincible at Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Return of Captain Invincible at Rocky Music
  • The Return of Captain Invincible at Oz Movies
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