During Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's clear that Captain America and the Winter Soldier are able to fight one another on a pretty even level, with Cap's shield frequently negating the advantage Bucky's metallic arm provides.

As I understood it, the super-soldier serum that granted Steve Rogers his powers was one-of-a-kind; major effort went to rediscovering (and failing to find) it.

Did Bucky Barnes receive some off-brand super-soldier serum? Or was the original formula replicated during Cap's time in the ice? How is Bucky able to fight on Cap's level?

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    In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has been clearly stated on their wiki that Barnes has been experimented on and has the same type of physical abilities as Captain America. May 10, 2016 at 1:58
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    @ThaddeusHowze Are you really closing this older, answered question as a duplicate of a newer question that you answered? They aren't even the same question; you've just chosen to use some of the same information in your answer. May 10, 2016 at 11:55

4 Answers 4


Bucky Barnes does not have superhuman abilities.

But neither does Steve Rogers. Instead, Steve is simply at peak physical fitness for a human being (to the point where he may appear to be superhuman). It would seem that after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky also shares these traits.

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers (Captain America) rescues Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) from Hydra captivity, finding him having recently been experimented on by Dr Arnim Zola.

It is theorised that Dr Arnim Zola was working on his own version of Dr Abraham Erskine's Super Soldier Serum, and it is this that was being tested on Bucky when Steve found him.

The fact that;

Bucky survives his fall into the ice in Captain America: The First Avenger before being brainwashed by Hydra and turned into The Winter Soldier

Implies that Bucky did receive some kind of Super Solider serum from Dr Arnim Zola, explaining how he can go toe-to-toe with Captain America.

This theory is further solidified in Captain America: Civil War, when we learn that;

there are 5 other "Winter Soldiers" that worked for Hydra, each of whom had received a version of the Super Soldier Serum that was created by Howard Stark prior to his death.

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    Also, given the metal arm, it is entirely possible that it's the cybernetic enhancements.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Aug 23, 2015 at 23:45
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    But what does "peak" really mean here? No human ever has had the capabilities of Cap and, as far as I'm aware, we don't have any reason to believe that one could. That makes him "superhuman" by any reasonable definition of the term. Aug 27, 2015 at 8:38
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    I suppose it's the "If a human was a strong and as fast and as physically capable as humanly possible, with the most stamina a human can have" bit I don't understand. The most X a human can have is an X that has been measured. It makes no sense to believe that we are actually capable of performing at e.g. 10x what has ever been recorded if only we could... magic? How would any unaltered human accomplish such a feat? We can't, so... superhuman. Aug 27, 2015 at 8:45
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    @EdS. So every new Olympic record is Super Human? People use to think running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible.
    – LCIII
    May 9, 2016 at 15:31
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    @LCIII: No, and that's obviously not what I said. We're talking about order of magnitude+ increases in ability, not incremental improvement. C'mon. May 9, 2016 at 21:13

Yes Bucky definitely has superhuman abilities. (SPOILER ALERT FOR CIVIL WAR)

  • he jumped off a bridge and landed on a car roof with little effort, a human would have their legs broken from that
  • strong enough to send grown men flying with a punch or kick (similar to cap)
  • while escaping from the police, he jumped about 5 stories and landed badly, but without any injury
  • during the same scene, he performs several 20ft-ish jumps (one was and lands on his feat easily and continues running.
  • can run fast enough to outrun cars in the tunnel scene, similar to cap and BP
  • evenly matched with cap and BP, both of whom have superhuman strength. (To all the people saying Cap is only "peak", he's actually superhuman because MCU Cap is based on the Ultimate universe cap. That's why he can do insane things like stop a helicopter from taking off.)
  • Bucky also takes quite a beating from Iron Man at the end, still walks away.

All these feats are more than just peak human. A pro boxer couldn't survive a beating from iron man, nor could Ussain Bolt outrun cars at all let alone at a sustainable pace. Also even a pro parkour athlete wouldn't be able to land the jumps Bucky does without 1) rolling and 2) sustaining several injuries.

I don't know how he got his super strength/durability, probably sometime after he gets captured by Hydra. But there's no doubt that Bucky is super human.


Now that Civil War is out, we have some more solid answers for that question:

In Civil war, we are shown that

Bucky Barnes kills Howard Stark in order to steal a case of vials from him. These vials look much like the super soldier serum.

Then, we are also shown that

There are other Winter Soldiers who have abilities very similar to those of Captain America’s.

From that, it is likely that Howard Stark worked on replicating that serum. He probably succeeded and when that serum came into Hydra’s possession, it was used to enhance Winter Soldier.

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    [SPOILER] Bucky didn't get the serum. The five serums went to the five new Winter Soilders.
    – Rogue Jedi
    May 18, 2016 at 16:28
  • Bucky didn't get that serum, because he had already been given it during The First Avenger.
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 30, 2017 at 2:09
  • @KutuluMike: presumably a different serum though, given that First Avenger occurs almost 50 years before the flashback scenes in Civil War. Mar 30, 2017 at 11:59
  • true, Bucky's serum was the variant derived by Zola, which was probably based on the version Erskine gave Red Skull before fleeing to the US.
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 30, 2017 at 13:16

Its implied that Bucky received his own serum during his first imprisonment and that he received further dosages with in addition to his arm after hydra recovered him.

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