Super soldiers have been around for a long time in the Marvel Universe. In fact, they predate the company's name. Marvel Comics' precursor, Timely Publications, introduced the first official super soldier in 1941 when Captain America Comics (Vol. 1) #1 hit shelves. Captain America would later be revived once the company had been rebranded as Marvel Comics during the 60s, and ever since, the concept of the super soldier has held prominent in Marvel lore. Though the name 'Captain America' is probably what comes to mind when fans hear 'super soldier', Steve Rogers was just the beginning of a long line of characters to receive their powers due to a version of the Super Soldier Formula. Given the surprising amount of super soldiers in the MU, we decided to give our ranking and determine who the most powerful soldier is.
In order to be considered to be a super soldier, a character must've been subjected to a variant of the Super Soldier Serum. The original was created by Dr. Abraham Erskine amidst the second World War. The experiment was a success with Steve Rogers, but other efforts at the time didn't fare so well. Erskine passed away and his colleagues became desperate to recreate the formula and garner awards from their respective government. As a result, countless attempts at creating super soldiers were made, with many of them failing miserably -- either outright, or producing super soldiers with an array of alarming side effects. Super soldiers passed away or went rogue, but occasionally, a new superhero would be born. Here are Marvel's top 20 super soldiers, ranked by power.
20 MASTER MAN
Master Man was Germany's answer to Captain America during World War II. Injected with the Super Soldier Serum, Wilhelm Lohmer became even stronger than Steve Rogers. He worked as an enforcer for the Red Skull and clashed with his American counterpart, as well as other heroes like Black Panther.
Over the years, Master Man consistently evaded his demise and imprisonment, causing trouble for Namor, Human Torch, and Union Jack. However, after an explosion had caused him to lose the effects of the Super Soldier Serum, Lohmer appeared to be turning over a new leaf. In the end, he sacrificed his life to save the time-traveling Cable.
Before becoming Mockingbird, Barabara Morse was known as Agent 19 of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was admitted to Project: Gladiator, where she and her colleague, Dr. Ted Sallis, were administered a re-created Super Soldier Serum. Unlike Sallis, who was transformed into the monstrous Man-Thing, the Super Soldier Serum worked as expected on Morse.
Soon after, she officially became the superhero Mockingbird, teaming up with heroes like Captain America and Hawkeye before joining the West Coast Avengers. Although Mockingbird doesn't appear to be as strong as the original super soldier, her mastery over numerous martial arts more than makes up for that deficit.
18 UNION JACK
Brian Falsworth, the first of several superheroes to go by the alias Union Jack, drank a variant of the Steve Rogers' Super Soldier Formula while imprisoned by the Germans during World War II. Thus empowered, Falsworth broke out of the prison, began referring to himself as Destroyer, and took on the bad guys in their homeland.
Soon after, he embraced the identity of Union Jack, teaming up with fellow Golden Age heroes and battling against some of the earliest supervillains, including his vampiric uncle, Baron Blood. After WWII concluded, Falsworth's career as a superhero slowed down, and the mantle of Union Jack was inherited by younger generations.
Frank Simpson was destined to become the crazed super soldier known as Nuke from a young age. Seeking to create a Vietnam-era Captain America, the Weapon X Project interfered with Simpson's life when he was a young boy, guiding him toward his dark future. Acting at the behest of Romulus and the Weapon X Project, Wolverine played a key part in turning Simpson into a supervillain.
After being taken, brainwashed, battle-hardened, and transformed into a super soldier by Weapon X, Simpson lost himself in the personality of Nuke. Since then, Nuke has often gone to great extremes to eliminate anyone he perceives to pose the slightest threat to the U.S.
Eli Bradley, aka Patriot, comes from a family of super soldiers. Eli's grandfather, Isaiah Bradley, became the new Captain America after Steve Rogers had appeared to perish during WWII, his uncle, Josiah X, also received superpowers, using them in the Vietnam War. Despite his bloodline, Eli was born without powers and initially had to resort to Mutant Growth Human in order to help the nascent Young Avengers.
Eventually, Eli's use of MGH caught up to him, leading to a split from the team. Later, after using himself as a human shield to protect Steve Rogers, Eli received a blood transfusion from his grandfather. Eli had finally become a bonafide super soldier.
Jack Monroe became Bucky to the second Captain America when a new Red Skull attacked the U.S. in the late '40s. In the wake of their first adventure, Monroe received the Super Soldier Serum. However, unexpected side effects (namely, a plummet in mental health) led to Monroe being cryogenically suspended.
Decades later, Monroe resurfaced as a partner of Steve Rogers. Monroe took on the alias Nomad, helped out Captain America for a period and then took the solo path. On his own, Nomad was strongly committed to protecting the homeless and battling fascist forces in the U.S. Unfortunately, Nomad met an abrupt end at the hands of the Winter Soldier during the early 21st century.
John McIver, aka Bushmaster, was originally a non-powered gang lord operating in New York. He often ran up against street-level heroes, such as Iron Fist, Misty Knight, and Luke Cage. It wasn't until Power Man (Vol. 1) #49 that McIver received superpowers. Bushmaster took Dr. Noah Burstein -- the man responsible for mutating Luke Cage -- and forced him to turn Bushmaster into a super soldier.
However, Burstein's formula ended up immobilizing Bushmaster shortly after the procedure. Ultimately, Bushmaster's desperate ploy to become a super soldier led to his demise after the villain tried a risky procedure to undo Burstein's formula. Bushmaster was later briefly revived by his son, only to perish once again by his own hand.
13 U.S. AGENT
John Walker went through several superhero aliases before finally settling on U.S. Agent. Walker initially went by Super-Patriot, and often clashed with Captain America due to differing views on how American ideals ought to be expressed. However, after Stever Rogers took time off, Walker filled the role of Captain America.
His tenure as Cap was short-lived but paved the way for his role as U.S. Agent. As U.S. Agent, Walker fit the mold of the more traditional superhero role and offered his services to teams like the West Coast Avengers and Force Works. Most recently, U.S. Agent was seen fighting Hydra during "Secret Empire".
12 RED SKULL
Red Skull didn't become a super soldier until relatively late in his career as a supervillain. Red Skull worked as a high-ranking officer during WWII, where he'd frequently clash with Captain America, establishing their enduring feud. Decades later, after Red Skull appeared to perish, Arnim Zola transferred Skull's consciousness into a cloned body of Steve Rogers.
At last, Red Skull had the power of a super soldier. Red Skull continued his relentless plotting against Captain America and the U.S., at one point orchestrating Rogers' end as a step in a long-term plan to gain power in the country.
Unlike most of the other characters on this list, Mitchell Tanner never volunteered to become a super soldier. After seeing action in Vietnam, Tanner was hanging to life by a thread. Dr. Noah Burstein introduced an emergency procedure that involved administering Super Soldier Formula to the wounded soldier.
As a result, Tanner was transformed into Warhawk. Warhawk initially worked as an assassin for the C.I.A. but grew further unhinged as time wore on. The mad man targeted Iron Fist and Luke Cage. He found work with the Hellfire Club, who hired him to take out the entire X-Men team. When Warhawk was last seen, he was working for S.H.I.E.L.D. in return for a reduced sentence.
It looked like Kevin Marlow's days were numbered when the American reporter was taken by the Germans during WWII. Luckily, his cellmate was Dr. Eric Schmitt, who provided Marlowe with his own version of the Super Soldier Serum. Marlow broke out of the prison and took on the hordes of bad guys in their homeland, calling himself the Destroyer (this part of Destroyer's origin was later retconned and attributed to Brian Falsworth).
After the war ended, Marlow continued to work for the government. During this time, Destroyer settled several personal vendettas that'd been started during the war. Destroyer hunted down several Golden Age supervillains that'd been involved with the war, including Scar, Crocodile, Bruiser, and Organite.
9 BLACK WIDOW
From the time she could barely walk, Natalia Romanova was trained to be a world-class assassin. She was thrown into the Soviet Union's Black Widow Ops Program where she received a variant of the Super Soldier Serum. With a now enhanced physiology added to her multifaceted skillset, Natalia was poised to become a nightmare for Marvel's heroes.
Luckily, she experienced a change of heart after falling in love with Hawkeye, initiating her shift in allegiance. Until her recent demise in Secret Empire #7, Black Widow had aligned herself with the Avengers for the bulk of her career, helping to fight the forces that formed her.
8 JOSIAH X
Josiah al hajj Saddiq, aka Josiah X, wasn't the first super soldier in his family. His father, Isaiah Bradley, had been a subject in a dangerous experiment aimed at producing more super soldiers. Josiah was born with his father's enhanced physiology and used it to his advantage when he went to fight in the Vietnam War.
Feeling lost, Josiah X spent a brief period as a mercenary before becoming a minister. At this time, he was approached by James Rhodes and recruited to join the Crew, a team committed to helping out in a dangerous part of Brooklyn. Josiah X chose the alias Justice and embraced his destiny to be a superpowered protector.
Dr. Ted Sallis had been interested in re-creating the original Super Soldier Serum when he was assigned to Project: Gladiator. Work with the Project was complicated by the interference of AIM, which resulted in Sallis burning his research and injecting himself with the only sample of his new serum. While on the run from AIM, Sallis crashed his car into a mystical swamp.
The Super Soldier Serum combined with the mystical properties of the swamp to transform Sallis into the strangest super soldier to date: Man-Thing. Since then, Man-Thing has operated as far from your typical superhero, participating in only the most bizarre of Marvel stories.
6 LUKE CAGE
While imprisoned, Luke Cage volunteered for Dr. Noah Burstein's super soldier experiment. Burstein's experiment worked and Cage received super strength and bulletproof skin. Shortly after, Cage adopted the alias Power Man and opted to fight street-level crime full-time. Cage befriended Iron Fist and the two formed Heroes for Hire, their on-again-off-again crime-fighting company.
In the years since, Cage has participated on other teams such as the Avengers and Thunderbolts, though he typically fights alone. While his strength may not be exaggerated to the degree of the Hulk, Cage is still astonishingly strong. On one occasion, he knocked out Rhino with a single punch.
5 CAPTAIN AMERICA
When Marvel fans hear 'super soldier', they think of Captain America. Steve Rogers, though he may not be the most powerful super soldier, was the first major success in the international race to create such a soldier. When Rogers was administered the Super-Soldier Serum during World War II, he received a set of regularly straightforward superpowers -- super strength, speed, durability, etc.
However, what really sets Rogers apart from his fellow super soldiers, is the 'soldier' part of it. Rogers is a fearless combatant and leader, always willing to put his life on the line to protect innocents from threats with an alarming array of powers.
4 OMEGA RED
Arkady Rossovich was a mutant when the KGB captured him with the hope of transforming him into the Soviet Union's answer to Captain America. However, the end result was more akin to Wolverine than Captain America. Rossovich had retractible Carnbonadium tentacles stuck into his body that allowed him to such the energy out of his foes.
The new vampiric super soldier was known as Omega Red and acted at the behest of the Soviets, and later as a mercenary for hire. Omega Red developed a rivalry with his American counterpart, Wolverine, that eventually escalated into an obsession with destroying the adamantium-laced mutant.
The U.S. government's Weapon Plus Program was committed to creating the next wave of super soldiers. Working in conjunction with the Weapon Plus Program, Canada's Department K experimented on Wade Wilson, initially helping him out by giving him a healing factor that eliminated his cancer. In exchange, Wilson joined Department K's covert team of mercenaries.
After a mission went awry, Wilson was punished by being brought into a facility where he was subjected to a series of sadistic experiments. Wilson's healing factor proved to be ridiculously effective, allowing himself to bounce back from anything his torturers did to him. Eventually, he broke out of the facility and adopted the alias Deadpool for his new lease on life.
Like Deadpool, Wolverine was subject to the Weapon Plus Program's subdivision, Weapon X. Logan had formerly worked for Weapon X as a member of Team X, giving the scientists ample evidence that Logan could become their perfect super soldier. While living in the woods, Logan was taken by a team sent by Weapon X.
Taken back to the Weapon X facility, Logan had adamantium bonded to his skeleton and was brainwashed by the team of scientists. When the process was done, Logan became the program's living Weapon X, and mindlessly followed orders for a time. Ultimately, Logan was able to override Weapon X's programming and commit his life to the path of redemption.
In the wake of WWII, the race was on to create a super soldier vastly more powerful than the original. Canada's Department K achieved this, albeit, with an accidental test subject. Robert Reynolds, a known addict, broke into one of Department K's laboratories in search of a fix and instead was exposed to the Golden Sentry Serum.
Thus was born Marvel's Superman -- Sentry. Sentry proved himself to be a more than welcome help for other Marvel heroes at first, aiding the likes of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man in their everyday conflicts. Unfortunately, Reynolds' dark side would manifest as the villainous Void, making him more of a problem than a solution for the Marvel Universe as time went on.