The Super Soldier Serum has been a factor in the Marvel Universe for as long as anyone can remember. And the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done plenty to make it stay just as prevalent with mainstream audiences as the comics have.
While fans everywhere associate the magic blue cocktail with transforming Steve Rogers into Captain America, there is a surprisingly lengthy roster of characters that have been enhanced by the Super Soldier Serum. And in the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, fans have been given reason to believe that roster is about to get even bigger.
Let's take a look at the 20 super soldiers introduced in the MCU so far. Some of them may surprise you.
The creator of HYDRA and the first-ever Super Soldier is an incredible well of exploration for what this formula is meant to do.
Schmidt forced Dr. Erskine to administer the serum in an attempt to become the "superior man" it promised as a result. But due to the unfinished nature of Schmidt's dose, it resulted in the red-faced tyrant who is currently held hostage navigating the Soul Stone on Vormir.
Erskine explained that the nature of the serum is to make the good in a person great, and the bad in a person worse. If the visual side effects of Schmidt's reaction accompany that logic, then Johann Schmidt is one bad dude.
The Star-Spangled Man with a plan. The first "successful" Super Soldier has become the face and standard for the serum's outcomes.
Many believe that the incredible results of this trial are a product of Erskine perfecting the formula. This is the reason it is so devastating to the U.S. Military when Erskine is killed moments after Rogers emerges from the chamber inside which he transformed (in arguably the greatest shot of a man's physique in movie history.)
But some would argue that while Erskine did fine-tune the serum to his liking, it was the man inside that created the most successful Super Soldier experiment yet. Because despite the name, a Super Soldier does not require the perfect soldier, but a good man. Will America's first Super-Soldier have something to say about the new Super-Soldier Serum in the MCU? It remains to be seen.
JAMES "BUCKY" BARNES
This is a look at what happens when a successful Super Soldier falls into the wrong hands.
After Barnes and the rest of the Howling Commandos were captured, he was the focus of a series of tests by HYRDA. One of these tests was a version of the Super Soldier Serum created by Johan Schmidt's right-hand man, Arnim Zola. And after being recaptured by HYDRA following a seemingly lethal fall from a train, he was brainwashed and manipulated into the first and most infamous Winter Soldier.
Now that Bucky has had his mental imprisonment corrected and is no longer a prisoner/assassin of HYDRA, he still possesses all the powers he gained from Zola's serum. This made Bucky the second non-red-faced Super Soldier in the MCU.
This is the newest Super Soldier fans have met in the MCU and the inspiration for this article.
Isaiah Bradley, in the comics, was one of 300 black soldiers who were test subjects following the death of Captain America in World War II. Bradley gave us hints of a similar origin in the MCU as he was imprisoned and tortured for 30 years following his run-ins with Bucky Barnes in the 1950s.
We do not know much about the first black Super Soldier, but it is a safe bet that we will find out more in the coming episodes of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Everyone reading this needs to take a deep breath and settle with the reality that Dr. Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk, is in fact a variant Super Soldier. It was in an attempt to recreate the original serum using Steve Rogers' blood that led to the accident that gave Doctor Banner his mean and green alternate personality. Banner's attempt to recreate the serum involved a heavy amount of gamma radiation, which explains the monstrous reaction that followed.
That touch of gamma radiation not only led to Banner being the strongest Super Soldier seen so far but also made him the only person on this list who is able to turn his "gifts" on and off... even if he cannot control it sometimes.
With every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Emil Blonsky, with the help of Thunderbolt Ross, is the government's solution to match the destruction of The Hulk. Ross explained that the government had been trying to recreate Erskine's serum since the day it was proven a success. When soldier Emil Blonsky was given the opportunity to test one of these variants, he did not hesitate to sign up.
Unfortunately, this variation of the serum, along with blood from Bruce Banner, resulted in a gruesome transformation of Blonsky into what we now know as the Abomination. It has been 13 years since fans have seen this Hulk wannabe in the MCU, but audiences are meant to assume he is still very much in play.
THE WINTER SOLDIERS
HYDRA saw the success of Bucky Barnes as the first Winter Soldier and knew that if they could replicate it with a team, there would be no stopping them. And conveniently, their unknowing coworker, Howard Stark, had cracked Erskine's code and recreated the serum that gave us Captain America.
They not only got the "volunteers" together, but this group was ALREADY comprised of the deadliest assassins/soldiers that HYDRA had ever seen. This group of five was presented as an unstoppable force capable of tearing down an entire country overnight without anyone knowing they were there.
But in one of the biggest plot twists yet in the MCU, when Bucky and Steve Rogers roll up to stop this group of Winter Soldiers, Zemo had already killed them while they were still in cryogenic sleep. And The Avengers thanked him for doing that while everyone went home happy and with all of their limbs attached.
THE FLAG SMASHERS
This is another group of Super Soldiers that have a lot of explaining to do.
The Flag Smashers are a group of eight radicals who survived The Blip and now want to restore the world to the halved version Thanos created. We are unsure how they received the serum or if there is more of it out there, but with a group of vandals being as super-powered as everyone on this list going about their business, the dangers are limitless.
WHAT......if? In the upcoming animated Marvel Studios series What If? fans will see alternate MCU timelines where characters are put into situations that could have reshaped the MCU. One of the most anticipated is the telling of a world where Peggy Carter, not Steve Rogers, was selected for Erskine's Super Soldier Program, becoming Captain Britain.
While this may seem out of place to the casual MCU, an eagle eye will tell you that the pivotal moment of Captain America: The First Avenger, where Steve falls onto the grenade to prove he is worthy of the serum, he was not the only one ready to risk it all that day.
Even in an animated space, fans are excited to see Haley Atwell return as our favorite SHIELD agent gets a chance to level the playing field and kick some serious ass.
MORE SUPERS ON THE WAY?
Now, in Episode 3 of The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, we learn that former CIA, now-Power Broker scientist Dr. Nagel was able to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. This cocktail is stolen by The Flag Smashers.
With eight Flag Smashers, we have 12 rogue Super-Soldier Serum vials out in the world with an x-factor of subtlety, as this iteration of the serum does not enhance your physical appearance. Who will be the next addition to this list? Stay tuned to find out.