Spider-Man: No Way Home is now in the hands of audiences worldwide, sparking discussions about the threequel's implications on the MCU's past, present and future. In between the Multiversal stakes and otherworldly web-slingers, one aspect of No Way Home that has captured the fascination of fans is the return of the Green Goblin.
Willem Dafoe was given another shot at portraying Norman Osborn, unburdened by the necessity to hide his performance beneath a mask this time around and serve as more than just a meme.
One debate that has surfaced online is whether Osborn's Green Goblin formula is stronger than Captain America's Super-Soldier serum. Both characters were injected with some sort of mystery liquid that has amplified their abilities to superhuman levels, so it's only natural for fans to try to determine which strength-enhancing medication comes out on top.
It's time to go back to formula and figure out who wins.
The Muscle Test
How hard someone hits is a reasonable measure of someone's strength, so comparing Cap and Norman's output should give a good indicator of which liquid is doing the better job.
Starting off with Gobby, analyzing his first fight with Peter in Happy's apartment building reveals a few key signifiers of his strength. On a base level, Norman's punches, well, pack a punch. When he batters Spider-Man, Norman sends Peter flying across the hallway.
That isn't saying much though, as Cap's normal attacks match the Goblin's pretty well. Whether it's pummeling a punching bag so hard it flies off its chain in The Avengers or lobbing a Nazi through the air like he's nothing in The First Avenger, Steve Rogers' base level of strength is at least on par with Norman's.
The true comparison comes when looking at the two character's exerting their full force.
The Green Goblin's greatest show of strength in No Way Home is when he smashes Peter through multiple concrete floors. While gravity is definitely on his side, the strength needed to pull this off is monumental. Captain America's strongest moment was arguably his helicopter double bicep curl in Captain America: Civil War, which he was able to sustain for a fairly long time.
While it's arguable which demonstrates the greater level of muscle, tearing through several layers of concrete does seem to the physically taxing of the two. While it's very possible that Cap could have pulled off a similar move, the fact that the MCU has never shown him doing something comparable to this demonstrates just how powerful Norman's formula makes him.
The Endurance Test
Endurance is another factor to be considered in the strength test, with both Gobby and Cap capable of taking a few licks from opponents.
Looking at Norman's first fight with Spidey in the apartment complex again, it's quite clear that Peter's punches aren't slowing him down whatsoever. Being repeatedly smacked across the face only induces laughter and being pushed through concrete floors doesn't even leave a scratch.
Goblin is no joke. It seems that Norman has barely even broken a sweat either after receiving such a beating, still agile enough to torment Peter, hop on his glider, throw down a pumpkin bomb, and go on his merry way.
Comparing this to the final fight between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in Captain America: Civil War, Cap is bruised and bloody after Iron Man has had his hands on him. Sure, Tony has his armor to increase the damage, but he's still just a regular man with above-average strength at the end of the day. To be able to do that sort of damage to an enhanced Cap demonstrates that he isn't able to take nearly as many hits.
If Steve is left tired and bloody after a confrontation with a regular person and Norman can walk away from a superpowered beatdown with a full health bar, it's clear that the Goblin formula turns its users into much more durable human beings. While Steve Rogers can do this all day, Norman Osborn can do this all week.
The Nerfed Goblin Formula Test
The conversation changes though once Norman is nerfed by Aunt May injecting him with anti-Goblin juice. The repercussions of May's actions are seen in the final fight against Peter on Lady Liberty's shield, where Norman is clearly slipping.
Sure, his reaction speed is fine at first, as shown by how he rolls out of the way of one of Spider-Man's attacks, but Gobby quickly becomes sloppier as the fight progresses. By the end of his beatdown, Goblin is exhausted, a far cry from what he was able to endure previously. And yet, still not a sign of bloodshed.
Therefore, it can be theorized that a nerfed Goblin formula puts Norman about on the level of Cap in terms of how many hits he can take, but Osborn's creation still comes out on top due to its miraculous skincare effects that prevent unwanted blood loss.
The Final Verdict
Whatever Norman Osborn put in that formula, it's clearly doing wonders for him. Cap's Super-Soldier serum provides some neat perks, but the Goblin formula cranks the enhancements up to 11 on the scale. Not only does Osborn seem physically stronger, but he's clearly a lot tougher than Steve Rogers even with a failed Goblin cure coursing through his veins.
Ultimately, the Goblin formula is the stronger recipe here.
The real question is which is the one to take? Considering the Goblin formula comes at the cost of developing a psychopathic, uncontrollable split personality that endangers literally everyone in one's path, the Super-Soldier serum is probably still the better option. But, for those who want that extra oomph, maybe risking a terrifying alter ego is all worth it.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters worldwide.