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Marvel Database



The Super-Soldier Serum is a formula designed to create super-soldiers. The name is a misnomer, as the "serum" actually consists of various processes. Subjects that are considered to have been enhanced to their "Peak-Potential" are noted to be Captain America,[4] Isaiah Bradley,[6] Josiah X,[7] Protocide via an SSS variant,[8] and Union Jack via a different SSS.[9] Variations of the Super-Soldier Serum have been developed over the years which induced greater-mutations than peak human capabilities.[10][11][12] So far, it would appear that Captain America (Steve Rogers) is the "perfect man."[13] The more powerful variants come with strange side-effects that may also include mental deficiencies.[7]


Project: Nietzsche[]

John Steele was captured during World War I and his body was kept in stasis at a lab located in Frankfurt, Germany. In February 1941, Nazi scientists; Dr. Abraham Erskine and Professor Eric Schmitt sought to unlock the secrets of Steele's abilities for Project: Nietzsche. The also hoped to use Homo mermanus DNA but the mission to retrieve it failed. Their attempts were met with varying success.[14]

Dr. Erskine, however, defected to the United States of America with the help of Nick Fury, taking his work with him.[15] In the summer of 1941 his Jewish ancestry was discovered by the Red Skull who ordered Schmitt to be taken to a concentration camp.[16]

Imprisoned by the Nazis and dying, Schmitt asked Brian Falsworth to keep the sample of the Super-Soldier formula he had concealed on his person from falling into Nazi hands. Falsworth took the disguised flask, drank its contents, and was immediately enhanced by the Super-Soldier formula. Falsworth escaped the prison and became a costumed fighter of Nazis within Germany itself known as the Destroyer.[9]

Master Man (Wilhelm Lohmer) was subjected to the Nazi version of the Super-Soldier Serum. Although the formula was a derivative of the original Super-Soldier Serum that gave Captain America his powers, Lohmer gained abilities exceeding those of Captain America.[17]

Operation: Rebirth[]

Steven Rogers (Earth-616) and Abraham Erskine (Earth-616) from Captain America Comics Vol 1 1 0001

Operation: Rebirth

In the states; Dr. Erskine developed the first "Super-Soldier Serum" as part of a top-secret US Government experiment called Operation: Rebirth.[4] He was now code-named "Professor Reinstein" to hide his identity.[4]

The first and the most successful recipient of the Super-Soldier Serum was Steve Rogers. Selected by General Chester Phillips of the U.S. Army to undergo testing, Rogers was at last administered the Super-Soldier Serum. Given part of the compound intravenously and another part orally, Rogers was then bombarded by "vita-rays," a special combination of exotic (in 1941) wavelengths of radiation designed to accelerate and stabilize the serum's effect on his body.[13] Steve Rogers emerged from the Vita-Ray Chamber with an enhanced body as perfect as a body can be.[18] A Nazi spy who observed the experiment murdered Dr. Erskine mere minutes after its conclusion.[4] Erskine died without fully committing the Super-Soldier formula to paper, leaving Steve Rogers the sole beneficiary of his genius.[4]

Attempt to Reproduce Rebirth[]

Since 1941 more than 500 known attempts have tried to create another super-soldier comparable to Captain America. Fewer than ten subjects are alive.[19]

After losing the secrets of the Super-Soldier Serum with the death of Erskine, the United States Army wanted to produce more super-soldiers like Rogers. Col. Walker Price and Dr. Wilfred Nagel forcibly recruited Isaiah and 300 other African-American soldiers to serve as test subjects to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum. To keep the operation secret, families were sent letters informing them of the soldiers' deaths;[6] however, Faith refused to accept Isaiah's death, and continued to look for the truth.[20]

Isaiah Bradley (Earth-616), Maurice Canfield (Earth-616), Lucas Evans (Earth-616), Damon Larsen (Earth-616) and Jack Harvey (Earth-616) from Truth Red, White & Black Vol 1 3 001

The Black Super Soldiers

Of the 300 African American soldiers, only a handful of men survived the gruesome process. These survivors became a covert black ops team. After only a few missions, only Isaiah, Maurice Canfield and Sgt. Luke Evans remained.[21] While waiting in Sintra, Portugal for the arrival of Captain America, Maurice discovered the truth about his parents' death. Enraged by the information, coupled with PTSD and an exaggerated thyroid gland, Maurice was led into a confrontation resulting in his death, the death of Sgt. Evans, and the severe injury of Isaiah and Pvt. Merritt.[20]

The U.S. military began experiments to duplicate Isaiah's powers. To this end, they harvested blood from Isaiah (before the Super-Soldier Serum made him super durable). Thirty-eight failed attempts occurred before Josiah was finally carried to term. A young African American girl matching Faith's blood type served as a surrogate mother, but when she discovered the truth about what the child would be used for, she escaped with Josiah.[7]

Red Room (Earth-616) Black Widow Vol 1 1

Black Widow OPS program

Black Widow Ops Program[]

The Soviet Union created a program named Black Widow Ops. Natasha Romanoff was one of the infant females that received a special treatment designed by a biochemist Dr. Lyudmila Kudrin. Kudrin created the female version of Super-Soldier Serum to enhance their immune system, lifespan, and physical attributes.[22]

Project: Sentry[]

An attempt at recreating the Super-Soldier Serum magnifying its effects a thousand times over begun in March of 1947 as part of a joint American/Canadian government operation. The end result was the Golden Sentry Serum, which was ingested by a meth addict named Robert Reynolds who broke into a laboratory containing the formula in search for drugs. He consumed the compound intending to get high and obtained remarkable solar-based superhuman abilities. All samples of the serum were destroyed afterwards, and the program was shut down since the project's personnel were terrified of the unprecedented effect of the serum's unauthorized use and the implication that Reynolds could share the power with others.[23]

Grand Director[]

In 1953 the man who would become the Grand Director flew to Germany, and examined the files of Major Kerfoot, a Nazi espionage officer in the SS. He discovered that the papers contained the original Super-Soldier formula. He revealed his discovery to certain high officials in the US government and made a deal whereby he would become the new Captain America, and act as a symbol during the Korean War. How the original Super-Soldier formula came to be in the possession of the Nazis is unknown, especially as Erskine died without fully committing the Super-Soldier formula to paper.[24][25]

Power Man Process[]

Lucas Cage (Earth-616) from Avengers Origins Luke Cage Vol 1 1 0003

Dr. Noah Burstein created the Electro-Biochemical System.[12] It was based on his father's work who was a Nazi scientist working on duplicating the Super-Soldier Serum.[26] The Electro Bio-Chemical system was created to stimulate human cell regeneration. He created it to heal any wound, cure any disease and even halt the aging process. The project was funded by a grant from Stark Industries.[12]

His first subject was when he worked for the United States Army as a surgeon in Vietnam where his experiments produced the C.I.A. operative Warhawk.[27]

Later looking for test subjects at Seagate Prison, he recruited Carl Lucas as a volunteer for experimental cell regeneration based on a variant of the Super-Soldier process, he had previously used to empower Warhawk. Dr. Burstein immersed Lucas in an electrical field conducted by an organic chemical compound; when he left Lucas unattended, prison guard Albert Rackham misused the experiment's controls, hoping to maim or kill Lucas. Lucas's treatment was accelerated past its intent, inducing body-wide enhancement that gave him superhuman strength and durability.[12]

Bushmaster kidnapped Dr Burstein.[28] Bushmaster forced Burstein to mutate him as he had Cage, but was nonetheless defeated and soon became paralyzed by the process.[29] Bushmaster later died when he was turned into a metal-like substance after his last-ditch effort to find a cure by reversing the process that gave Cage his powers failed, reverting to a permanently-immobilized statue.[30] Cruz McIver, the son of Bushmaster, after he was confident that the process wouldn't kill him like the other subjects, augmented himself using his father, but his plan backfired and only granted more power to his father who, in turn, used that power to kill his own son and also drain Iron Fist of his powers. However, the absorption and accumulation of so much power was too great for Bushmaster and he exploded as a result.[31]


The Navy was attempting to make its own version of Captain America using the 'AVX' patch (Acetovaxidol). Loosely based off of the process Luke Cage underwent, it was hoped that continued applications of the patch would be a more controllable dosage and keep the subject from going rogue. Unfortunately, the process seemed to aggravate Anti-Cap's mental problems.[32]

Elijah Bradley (Earth-616), Faith Shabazz (Earth-616), and Isaiah Bradley (Earth-616) from Young Avengers Vol 1 12 001


Patriot (Elijah Bradley) leader of the Young Avengers, was the nephew of Josiah X and grandson of Isaiah Bradley. He claimed that he received a blood transfusion from his grandfather gaining the same enhanced abilities. But in truth he was using the Mutant Growth Hormone. Soon the truth came out and he quit the team. But he came to the rescue of his friends during the subsequent battle between the Kree and the Skrull forces, the Young Avengers and the New Avengers, Patriot used himself to shield Captain America from gunfire, and was severely injured. After the battle Captain America rushed to the hospital to give Eli a blood transfusion only to discover "another Captain America", Eli's grandfather, had already given Eli his blood. Since the transfusion, Eli has gained physical attributes and powers of a real Super Soldier.[33]

Jacob Erskine[]

Dr. Jacob Erskine, the grandson of Dr. Abraham Erskine, tried to use the Super-Soldier Serum to cure cancer.[34]

American Kaiju[]

Todd Ziller was a volunteer in the new Super-Soldier process. They could not recreate the serum, so the Army used existing transformative substances. The final result included Gamma enhancements, Mutant Growth Hormone, Pym Particles, and the Connors Formula. The resulting application of the serum in Ziller's body turned him into a giant reptile similar to Godzilla, for which he was given the alias of "American Kaiju."[35]


The most common power granted by the Super-Soldier Serum is that of peak human potential. This means that the individual is stronger,[7][36] faster,[7][36] and more durable than the finest human athletes.[36] They are capable of lifting around 800 pounds over their heads,[20] running at speeds of 30 mph or possibly more,[37] and due to the Super-Soldier Serum's ability to counteract the lactic acids in the muscles that cause fatigue, allowing individuals to maintain strenuous physical activity for up to 12 hours on end before tiring.[7] For example, a policeman stated Josiah's stamina allowed him to "almost never [tire]."[7] The Super-Soldier Serum increases the individual's metabolism, allowing them to heal faster than normal humans.[38] The Super-Soldier Serum also increases the individual's durability, enabling them to withstand falls from several stories high,[37][39] gunshots,[40] etc. The Super-Soldier Serum also grants individuals immunity to any disease, illness, and poison known to man due to their bodies' ability to process it faster than the effects can cause harm to their body.[41][22] This includes most known drugs and alcohol which has no effect on the Super-Soldier Serum recipient; for instance, Steve Rogers stated that his enhanced metabolism does not allow him to get drunk.[42]

The Super-Soldier Serum can also affects the brain, allowing individuals to retain and recall any information they take in, such as Captain America, who possesses enhanced mind and is capable of remembering any military tactic and can apply it to any situation.[43] The Super-Soldier Serum increases the individual's reflexes beyond those of normal humans and non-enhanced peak humans.[44] For example, Black Widow was able to dodge gunfire from Rapido's cybernetic arm.[44] The Super-Soldier Serum dramatically prevents individuals from aging due to the regeneration of healthy cells.[22][7] For instance, Dr. Kudrin has stated that Natasha "don't age as fast."[22]

Alternate Realities[]


On a punk rock-themed reality of Earth-138, Karl Morningdew was injected with Super-Insurgent Serum to become Captain Anarchy.[45]

Weapon X Maverick's home world (Earth-1287)[]

Le Necrogateur (Earth-616) from X-Force Vol 4 4 002

Within this universe of its deceased David North, an alternative version of the Super-Soldier Serum had been developed by the harsh world's governmental science divisions conglomerated into a massive think tank. The item of interest was clearly a Superior product from most other Earths given that it not only gave vastly enhanced physical anatomies but bestowed myriad superpowers to anyone who ingested it. This came at the cost of severe physiological structural breakdown causing the taker of which to violently explode. Hence the motto many soldiers in the service of the alien incursion earth's defense forces "When it comes your time to die, sing your death song and die like a hero going home." in short it grants one phenomenal superhuman capabilities at the cost of one's life which relates to a couple of weeks to a few months at most. A Brazilian mutant in the reluctant service of a criminal arms dealer by the name of Volga used his powers for the theft and allocation of weapons-tech across the infinite realities on his employer's behalf. When he first presented this product to the billionaire weapons enthusiast, he couldn't help but be over eager to field test its effects to ascertain more sizable profit margins for his business, naturally doing first troubleshooting upon the latter's own family with which he forced the former's servitude. After a few years of off the record experimentation with the serum dubbed by many as the Volga Effect which weaponizes the mutant genome in order to bestow more stabilized, albeit still viciously self-destructive superpowers upon anybody who intakes it.[46]

Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610)[]

Steven Rogers (Earth-1610) in Ultimate Origins Vol 1 2

Ultimate Steven Rogers is in the process of the Super Soldier Serum at the Operation: Rebirth.

The Ultimate line simplifies many random elements by having many of the world's superheroes connected to Captain America's Super-Soldier Serum in some form or another. The Hulk was accidentally created while Dr. Bruce Banner was trying to recreate the serum, Norman Osborn accidentally created Spider-Man while attempting the same thing with the Oz Formula, which later mutated him into the Goblin. Weapon X and the entire mutant race were created as the Canadian response to the serum, and so on, resulting in international Super Soldier escalation and treaties being proposed to curb it. Several Spider-Man rogues were subjects of secret, illegal Super Soldier experiments. Captain America's illegitimate son with Gail Richards was born with the serum in his DNA. After his father's presumed death during WWII and taken from his mother, the son is raised on an army base where he appears to be a well-adjusted, physically superior and tactically brilliant young man who greatly resembles his father. However, his easy-going personality was a ruse. Around the age of seventeen, he kills over 200 men on the base and then cuts off his own face which leaves a "Red Skull" to reject his father.[47] Lieberman was another person subjected to the serum, but on a night out he was involved in a fire scene and bravely rescued fifty-seven fire victims, but after saving them, he suddenly died. His body was taken back to the Triskelion and privately examined in which the cause of his death was determined to be due to his nervous system collapsing from the strain of the Super-Soldier Serum. However, Lieberman's ascension to become (and replace) Captain America and his sudden death wasn't the first time that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been trying to replicate Super-Soldiers like Captain America, and that several other candidates like Lieberman perished with similar results.[48] Furious at the invasion of Iraq by American Super-Soldiers, scrawny Azerbaijani teenager Abdul Al-Rahman volunteered to undergo medical treatments to gain superhuman abilities that would allow him to strike back at America. The treatments were successful, and Al-Rahman rapidly gained muscle mass and an athletic physique. He was the first person since Steve Rogers to be positively responsive to the Super-Soldier Serum.[49]

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (Earth-8096)[]

Abraham Erskine (Earth-8096) from Avengers Micro Episodes Captain America Season 1 1 0001

In this universe Steve Rogers was recruited to join the Super Soldier Program, due to unbreakable fighting spirit and strong will. Through the Super-Soldier Serum, created by Dr. Abraham Erskine soldier Steve Rogers was transformed into Captain America.[50]

Spider-Man (1994 animated series) (Earth-92131)[]

Joseph Reinstein (Earth-92131) from Spider-Man (1994 animated series) Season 5 4 001

In this universe, the Super-Soldier formula created Captain America and was destroyed by Nazi spies. However, other scientists were able to create an imperfect version of the serum. Thus, each of five volunteers were affected differently, with their own unique powers which were very different from Captain America's. Also, their powers weren't permanent, and they were forced to ration their powers with keys. The five volunteers and Captain America formed the Six American Warriors.[51] As a 13-year-old boy during World War II, John Hardesky was tricked by Nazis into spying on the creation of Captain America, memorizing the formula used to create him. However, he then realized that he had been tricked and refused to reveal the formula to the Red Skull, fleeing. Hardesky grew up to be the Cat, a highly experienced burglar.[52] He also fathered a daughter named Felicia. When he was caught in the midst of a jewel theft, the Cat was incarcerated in S.H.I.E.L.D., partly to protect his knowledge of the Super-Soldier formula. Years later, he was abducted from custody by the Kingpin, who attempted to force him into revealing the formula. Hardesky did so after the crime lord kidnapped his daughter, and the recreated serum was tested out on her. As a result, Felicia became a crimefighter known as the Black Cat, and teamed up with Spider-Man to save her father, who then allowed himself to be taken back into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody to protect his knowledge.[53]

Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999)[]

Steven Rogers (Earth-199999) from Captain America The First Avenger 0007

Becoming a super soldier

Steven Rogers (Earth-199999) from Captain America The First Avenger 0006

Captain America is born.

Dr. Abraham Erskine developed his Soldier-Soldier Serum while working in Germany.[38] However, a Nazi General, Johann Schmidt known as Red Skull used the serum to increase his physical & mental abilities, however the formula appears to have been either prototypical or flawed, the resulting effects heavily distorted Schmidt's facial tissue and skin complexion becoming the Red Skull. Dr. Erskine later explained to Steve Rogers that the formula not only enhances the user's capabilities but also amplifies their 'key traits,' causing different features according to the user's personality, which caused Schmidt's face to mutate.[38]

Dr. Erskine escaped to the USA, he joined the Strategic Scientific Reserve There he took part in Project Rebirth, a project to create a Super Soldier for the Allies.[38] Using Vita-Rays to unlock the serum's potential, Dr. Erskine successfully used the Super-Soldier Serum on Steve Rogers who became the hero dubbed Captain America.[38] Dr. Erskine was killed and the last vial of the original serum was destroyed by Heinz Kruger, one of Hydra's top agents.[38] The last remnants of the serum now only exist in Steve's blood.[38] Despite the success in creating a super soldier, Project Rebirth was effectively a failure, the goal of the US military was to produce an "Army" of soldiers; not just a single individual.[38] With Rogers too valuable to risk in Frontline action, being the only guinea pig from which valuable data could be obtained, he was used by the Army as a recruitment tool, in a sense creating the very Army using regular people.[38]

During Bucky's incarceration in a Hydra prison, he was too injected with a serum which gave him enhanced physical abilities, similarly to Captain America. This allowed him to survive the fall from the Swiss Alps. Later after being discovered by HYDRA, further enhancements, rigorous training & brainwashing has transformed him into the Winter Soldier.[38]

In 1991, Hydra Operatives have learned that Howard Stark has recreated 5 more Super-Soldier Serum. Vasily Karpov dispatches Winter Soldier to retrieve the Super-Soldier Serum. Barnes assassinated Howard and Maria Stark. Barnes also retrieved the 5 recreated Super-Soldier Serum. Karpov recruited 5 more test subjects and injected the Super-Soldier Serum.[54]

In the 21st century, General Ross of the US Army revived the bio-tech force enhancement program, a secret project set-up after the relative failure of Project Rebirth. A failed attempt to reproduce the serum with added bouts of Gamma Radiation led to the accident that turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk. Banner was later forced to flee from Ross, who employed the British soldier Emil Blonsky to track him down. General Ross, eager to sustain Blonsky's will to fight, gave him an injection of a similar serum, which gave him abilities similar to those of Captain America. Later combination with the altered serum in Banner's blood turned Blonsky into the Abomination.[55]

As of 2013, scientists recreated a version of the serum as part of Project Centipede, which was designed to give a person superhuman abilities. This serum was a mixture of Gamma Radiation and the Extremis virus, with technology from the Chitauri.[56]



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See Also

Links and References


  1. Night Life
  2. Wolverine (Vol. 3) #44
  3. Captain America
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Captain America Comics #1
  5. Invaders #17
  6. 6.0 6.1 Truth: Red, White & Black #3
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Crew #5
  8. Captain America 2000 #1
  9. 9.0 9.1 Invaders #18
  10. Sentry #1
  11. Dark Avengers #13
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Hero for Hire #1
  13. 13.0 13.1 Adventures of Captain America #1
  14. Marvels Project #1
  15. Marvels Project #2
  16. Marvels Project #8
  17. Giant-Size Invaders #1
  18. Captain America #109
  19. Secret Avengers #21
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Truth: Red, White & Black #4
  21. Truth: Red, White & Black #34
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Black Widow (Vol. 3) #5
  23. Sentry (Vol. 2) #8
  24. Young Men #24
  25. Captain America #153156
  26. Marvels Project #5
  27. Power Man and Iron Fist #83
  28. Power Man #48
  29. Power Man #49
  30. Power Man and Iron Fist #67100
  31. Cage #12
  32. Captain America and The Falcon #1
  33. Young Avengers #1012
  34. Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #1
  35. New Avengers (Vol. 4) #9
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #4
  37. 37.0 37.1 Captain America (Vol. 3) #33
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 38.4 38.5 38.6 38.7 38.8 38.9 Captain America: The First Avenger
  39. Captain America (Vol. 5) #29
  40. Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3
  41. Captain America #255
  42. Captain America (Vol. 4) #27
  43. Captain America: Theater of War - To Soldier On #1
  44. 44.0 44.1 Fear Itself: Black Widow #1
  45. Edge of Spider-Geddon #1
  46. X-Force (Vol. 4) #5
  47. Ultimate Avengers #2
  48. Ultimates Annual #1
  49. Ultimates 2 #10
  50. Avengers Micro Episodes: Captain America S1E01
  51. Spider-Man S5E04
  52. Spider-Man S4E02
  53. Spider-Man S4E03
  54. Captain America: Civil War
  55. The Incredible Hulk
  56. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1E01