The MCU has used super soldier serum as a plot device for more than a decade, but She-Hulk’s finale just took away Marvel’s favorite story crutch.
The MCU has officially killed off any future super soldier serum storylines with the She-Hulk: Attorney At Law season finale. As part of She-Hulk’s fourth-wall-breaking roast of the biggest MCU criticisms, one of the tropes she mentions is an overreliance on the super soldier serum. Following this direct self-criticism, and more than a decade of super soldier stories, the MCU appears to finally be moving on from one of its favorite plot devices.
There are some things in the She-Hulk finale’s self-aware criticisms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that may not be able to be addressed or changed. For example, crossovers and team-ups are a major part of the MCU’s popularity and several new team-up series are already planned. However, the super soldier serum critique is different. Directly drawing attention to the laziness of the super soldier serum as a plot device eliminates the potential of any new super soldier storylines moving forward in the MCU. Especially as Sam Wilson has refused super soldier serum in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. The MCU will now have to subsist on its existing roster of super soldiers without relying on the creation of new ones or else risk self-inflicted backlash.
She-Hulk Is Right: The MCU Has Overused Super Soldier Serum
Super soldier serum has been a crutch of MCU storytelling since the beginning, even before the introduction of Captain America. In fact, the failed experiment that turned She-Hulk’s cousin Bruce Banner into the original Hulk and friend Emil Blonsky into the Abomination in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was part of the super soldier program. That film was released three years before the release of Captain America: The First Avenger which established Captain America’s origin. She-Hulk was right to call out the MCU for overusing the trope. Since those films, there have been dozens more MCU super soldier characters introduced. The serum has been used so often in the MCU that it can be difficult to keep track of which characters are actually super soldiers and whether or not it still matters.
Which Super Soldiers Still Exist In The MCU?
The existing roster of known MCU super soldiers is lengthy, even without accounting for technicalities like She-Hulk and Skaar or the possibilities of the multiverse. While Sam Wilson has refused to become a super soldier, his counterparts Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes and John Walker have both taken the serum. Isaiah Bradley, a surviving member of the US government’s experiments to recreate super soldier serum still lives as well. The Red Guardian, introduced in Black Widow as part of Russia’s attempts to create their own version of Captain America, could return to the MCU in the future. It is believed that the MCU villains the Flag Smashers who took the serum during The Falcon & The Winter Soldier have died, but there may be surviving members unaccounted for. Finally, the Red Skull is a super soldier and still lives as the guardian of the soul stone.
This extensive lineup of characters means the MCU doesn’t have to abandon super soldier stories entirely. However, the introduction of new characters given their powers by the super soldier serum will feel hollow and lazy after She-Hulk: Attorney At Law has now called them out directly. After so many years of super soldier stories, Marvel taking the serum off the board as a plot device is a welcome change for MCU Phase 5 and beyond.