MCU now may answer another hidden mystery about the time of Bucky as the Winter Soldier. The question is why Hydra didn’t make more super soldiers? It has been teased in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and mainly the introduction of the secret super soldier, Isaiah Bradley. His forgotten history and the way he plays out in the comics can explain why Bradley was imprisoned for so many years, as shown by the Disney+ series.
The past of Bucky as the Winter Soldier has been mapped out extensively. He was a result of HYDRA’s Super Soldier program and the Winter Soldier conditioning program when he was found after falling from the freight car. He was put through rigorous brainwash routines and turned into a devastating weapon. This included the repeated need to reprogram him as soon as his brain began to heal. This made him a volatile and vulnerable mess.
Bucky was a great and efficient assassin. The idea that HYDRA stopped with one living weapon after developing the serum makes no sense at all. Now, why is it that the Winter Soldier was the only HYDRA super soldier despite them having a viable super-soldier serum? There could have been more extensive plans for exploring more super soldiers. They could have created a super soldier army but they were stopped after Bucky was transformed?
The missing history of Isaiah Bradley can be used to explain this since he destroyed the Nazi super-soldier program in the comics after stealing a Captain America costume. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has teased how this might be possible. Bucky has mentioned that he met Bradley in 1951 during the Korean War. The mission could be Bradley going after the Winter Soldier and bringing down the entire super soldier operation of HYDRA.
This explanation is sufficient. There would be no need to explain why HYDRA waited for a long time to develop super-soldiers. Red Skull disappeared in 1945. It was the same year when Steve Rogers went into the ice. HYDRA was broken apart with scientists given work in the US to avoid them working with the Soviets. Somehow, this led to HYDRA’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. which ran for decades till the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In the late 1940s, HYDRA was not a completely formed entity anymore. Keeping up the pretense of extinction and simultaneous rebuilding would have needed more attention compared to what running the Winter Soldier program would allow. There is less evidence that Winter Soldier was active till he was thawed out in 1951. Zola’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have required him to lay low under intense scrutiny.
Apart from that, Bucky’s serum was an experimental prototype variant. It was not the finished article. Hence, Bucky losing his arm in 1945, it looks unlikely that the HYDRA version of Project Rebirth was active. By 1951, all of this could have changed. Isaiah Bradley’s attack on HYDRA and the Winter Soldier could have been retconned as a mirror of Bradley’s destruction of the Nazi super-soldier program at Schwarzebitte concentration camp of HYDRA’s Dr. Koch.
MCU can explain why Bradley was imprisoned for decades. He was court-martialled for not following orders and going rogue-like he did in the comics. This can be the answer to why HYDRA stopped their plans in developing super-soldier serum despite how successful Winter Soldier ended up for them. There is very little time left in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But looking back into Bradley’s past looks inevitable and necessary. It is not just recompense for his treatment but also a way to answer the enduring Winter Soldier and HYDRA mystery.
Last year, Marvel released a new book that is canon to the MCU. This book is titled “The Wakanda Files A Technological Exploration of the Avengers and Beyond.” This book revealed that according to Shuri, Dr. Zola would have exposed Bucky to gamma radiation from the Tesseract. Since Hydra didn’t have access to the Tesseract or any more Super Soldier Serum, they waited until 1991 to get more of it. Let’s see if this is also cleared up by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The series returns on Friday. Here’s the official synopsis:
Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience—in Marvel Studios’ “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.”
Directed by Kari Skogland, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, Daniel Brühl as Baron Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Wyatt Russell as John Walker, Desmond Chiam, Miki Ishikawa, Noah Mills, and Carl Lumbly.