The Return of Captain Invincible

The Return of Captain Invincible is a 1983 Australian musical comedy superhero film starring Alan Arkin and Christopher Lee. It was a box office disappointment on release but has become a cult film since then.[2]

The Return of Captain Invincible
DVD cover
Directed byPhilippe Mora
Produced byBrian Burgess
Andrew Gaty
Written bySteven E. de Souza
Andrew Gaty
Peter Smalley
StarringAlan Arkin
Christopher Lee
Kate Fitzpatrick
Bill Hunter
Music byRichard Hartley
William Motzing
Richard O'Brien
CinematographyMike Molloy
Edited byJohn Scott
Distributed bySeven Keys
Jensen Farley Pictures
Release date
  • 11 June 1983 (1983-06-11)
Running time
96 min
BudgetA$7 million[1]
Box officeAU$55,110 (Australia)


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.
  • Bill Hunter as Tupper/Coach
  • Michael Pate as The US president, who as a child met Invincible. The meeting left an impression on him.
  • Graham Kennedy as Prime Minister
  • Max Phipps as Admiral
  • Alfred Sandor as New York Police Captain
  • Ron Becks as Black Salesman
  • Garth Meade as Polish Salesman


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.[3][4]

Original Songs[5][6]Edit

The Return of Captain Invincible
1."Captain Invincible"Richard O'Brien,Richard HartleyRichard O'Brien2:59
2."Name Your Poison"Richard O'Brien,Richard HartleyChristopher Lee3:37
3."Mr. Evil Midnight"Richard O'Brien,Richard HartleyAlan Arkin and Christopher Lee3:44
4."Into the Blue"Brad LoveAlan Arkin 
5."We Need a Hero"Brad LoveMichael Pate1:49
6."Bullshit"Brad LoveMichael Pate0:31
7."The World I Knew"Billy Field, Tom PriceAlan Arkin 
8."Amazing How They're Alike"Jan Bunker, Mike ScarpiolloAlan Arkin2:16
9."Heaven in Your Eyes"Beth Lawrence, Norman ThalheimerBeth Lawrence 


The Return of Captain Invincible grossed a mere $55,110 at the Australian box office against a budget of $7 million.[7]

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.[8]


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. ^ Vagg, Stephen (30 December 2019). "10 Aussie '80s Films That Attempted to Jazz Up Things with an Inappropriate Rock Soundtrack". Filmink.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p79
  5. ^ "The Return of Captain Invincible". IMDB. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ "The Return of Captain Invincible". RockyMusic. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  7. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  8. ^ Terry Pratchett Quotes

External linksEdit