Captain Pollution is the best thing that ever came out of the Captain Planet universe. Fight me.
There’s my dude. Captain Planet’s evil double, which is pretty much my all-time favorite trope. Powered by pollution and sounding like a dickhead version of Michelangelo, Captain Pollution didn’t appear often, but when he did, OH MAN. Lights off, volume up, popcorn popped.
If Captain Pollution is news to you, below are five facts that will help you feign expertise. Remember, the polluting power is yours.
1) He could be summoned by using the RINGS OF DESTRUCTION.
Captain Pollution debuted in the first-season two-parter, Mission to Save the Earth, from 1991. (Those episodes marked his *only* appearances for years, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)
The villains called upon him by using the Rings of Destruction, which were evil duplicates of the Planeteers’ rings. Instead of nice clean powers over wind, fire and heart, these rings — which had little mutant frowny faces on them — allowed the bad guys to control stuff like radiation and HATE.
Captain Pollution put up a good fight, but he was no match for Captain Planet. (Given that he could be defeated with spritzes of plain water, that isn’t terribly surprising.)
At the end of the two-parter, Pollution stormed off to Parts Unknown, promising victory on another day.
2) He could grow to immense sizes.
Captain Pollution wouldn’t return until the FOURTH season, in 1993. By then, the show had been rebranded as The New Adventures of Captain Planet.
That season opened with another two-parter, A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste. Since those episodes acted as a series reset, they’re mostly about the Planeteers rediscovering their roots and remembering why they fight for a cleaner Earth.
While the Planeteers are off telling their origin stories, Captain Planet tangles with Captain Pollution — brought back to life by a toxic spill. Since Pollution spends most of the two-parter just completely kicking the shit out of Captain Planet, I’d call Season 4 a much better outing for him.
He even picks up a new trick. Fueled by enough garbage, Captain Pollution can grow to immense sizes. At one point, he’s as big as King Kong. I am so down with a Captain Pollution that gets bigger when trash is added.
3) His onscreen death was BRUTAL.
Since he’s Captain Planet’s opposite in every way, Captain Pollution can only be defeated with… erm… clean stuff.
In the first season, Captain Planet dragged him through dirt, lava and a tornado before hurling him into the ocean, and then it still took a 100’ bodyslam to seal the deal.
Captain Pollution escaped that time, but he wouldn’t be so lucky in Season 4. Instead, he was literally murdered onscreen! Captain Planet dunked him in lava, and the animators were careful to show poor Captain Pollution melt into the steaming pool. It was genuinely gruesome, at least by this show’s standards.
Needless to say, this marked Captain Pollution’s final appearance on the cartoon.
4) He had maybe the best action figure OF ALL TIME.
Not many people know this, but Captain Pollution DID have an action figure. It’s absurdly rare, and I’m not even sure that it was ever sold in the States. (The Captain Planet toy line seemed to fare quite well overseas — particularly in Italy, where the stinky villain was known as Captain Flagello.)
I’d seriously put this in the running for the best action figure ever made. Just look at him! Those toxic details! That scowl! The 1994 Undertaker gloves!
It gets better. Captain Pollution came packaged with a tiny pail of “toxic slime,” which could be poured INTO the figure. You’d then kick back and watch the green sludge ooze out of Captain Pollution’s pores. (See those little holes in his chest? That’s what they’re there for!)
Even out of the package and without the can of slime, you can expect to pay more than $100 for this figure. If I’m ever reasonably solvent, I just might.
(Above photo by Toyboxing on Instagram. Used with permission.)
5) He also appeared in the Captain Planet comic book.
Captain Pollution eked out an appearance in the Captain Planet comic book, from Marvel. Initially teased in issue #7, he stormed into #8 and managed to kick Captain Planet’s ass by the fifth panel.
Sadly, he was defeated with ease just a few panels later, after the Planeteers deduced that their magic rings would be more effective in battle than Captain Planet himself.
The comic book version of Captain Pollution was less goofy, and even looked meaner. Dig that Kalamata olive skin and those Dracula eyebrows!
Now you know all there is to know about Captain Pollution.
If I’m wrong, and there are other things left to learn about this mucky mofo, please tell me. I am OBSESSED.