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

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


The plot involves the super-hero called "Captain Invincible" (also known as "Legend in Leotards", "The Caped Contender" and "Man of Magnet") who is active during Prohibition, The Depression, World War II, and the Early 1950s. Once a popular hero to all Americans, he is forced into retirement by McCarthy-style government persecution in 1953.

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 nemesis, 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.



The Return of Captain Invincible was directed by Philippe Mora, and 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.

Lyricist Richard O'Brien and composer Richard Hartley, known for their prior collaboration on The Rocky Horror Show and its subsequent film adaptation, contributed three songs, including "Captain Invincible", "Evil Midnight" and "Name Your Poison".

After completion, producer Andrew Gaty, acting on the advice of his American distributor, recut. Mora objected and the matter wound up before the Minister of Home Affairs, Tom McVeigh, who 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]


The Return of Captain Invincible[5][6]
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 film "a series of bad moments pasted together with great songs and a budget of fourpence," but said that he had watched it a number of times.[8] Colin Greenland reviewed The Return of Captain Invincible for Imagine magazine, and stated that "Featuring hilarious musical routines from the man who wrote The Rocky Horror Picture Show and tongue-in-cheek aerobatics by the effects team from Superman, this eccentric, extraordinary and utterly delightful Australian movie has been unforgiveably denied to British audiences until now. All credit to Entertainment in Video for discovering it."[9]


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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  8. ^ Terry Pratchett Quotes
  9. ^ Greenland, Colin (June 1985). "Fantasy Media". Imagine (review) (27). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd.: 47.