Black Panther’s Heart-Shaped herb is a key component of the MCU’s Super Soldier Serum according to a fan theory. Since its inception, the MCU has introduced a wide range of tools and gadgets to aid its heroes in their quests. Some of these have even paved the way for the creation of new villains. The Super Soldier Serum, which produced Captain America, was one of the most notable in Phase 1.
From being a skinny kid from Brooklyn trying to get into the army to a world-famous war hero and symbol of hope and courage, Captain America made his MCU debut with Captain America: The First Avenger. The only successful test subject from the Super Soldier Serum program was Steve Rogers. However, since the 1940s, there have been numerous unsuccessful attempts to replicate it. While some of the failed experiments have been shown in the MCU, the Super-Soldier Serum was put on hold for a period of time to focus on larger and more important stories.
When the Super-Soldier Serum reappeared in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier as variants in the MCU’s Phase 4, the audience realized how little was known about the serum and its origins. In the wake of this, several theories have been put forth, including one that links the Serum to the Heart-Shaped Herb, which can only be found in Wakanda, and thus establishes a connection between Captain America and Black Panther.
Wakanda’s history and people were explored in Black Panther, which introduced viewers to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa and Daniel Gurira’s Okoye. As the new ruler of Wakanda, it was customary for him or her to eat a plant known as the Heart-Shaped Herb, which is native to the country and was traditionally consumed by those who would succeed him. The herb enhances physical abilities such as strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, agility, and instincts for those who consume it. The herb also grants access to the Ancestral Plane, allowing the user to communicate with the dead.
When a meteorite containing vibranium crashed into Africa millions of years ago, its massive radiation changed the plant life around it, allowing the Heart-Shaped Herb to appear. Once tribes began fighting over the vibranium, a panther god told a warrior shaman to use the herb to become the first Black Panther. The Black Panthers went on to unite the tribes into what is now known as Wakanda. Because of its strong connection to vibranium, this herb’s powers appear to have been restricted to the royal family in order to protect themselves and Wakanda. It was a mistake by Erik Killmonger to order all of them to be burned after he obtained the herbs abilities, but Nakia was able to steal one. To this day, Shuri has been unsuccessful in her attempts at recreating her beloved Heart-Shaped Herb, even considering adding some vibranium to the mix.
The Super Soldier Serum, developed by Abraham Erskine, is what transformed Steve Rogers from a vulnerable child into Captain America (Stanley Tucci). Wilfred Malick delivered the serum’s key ingredient to HYDRA the year after he began developing it in 1930. Johann Schmidt began injecting himself with the serum in 1940, but the formula was a little off, and he became the Red Skull as a result. Project Rebirth was started by Erskine after he fled the United States and joined the Strategic Scientific Reserve. Erskine developed the Super Soldier Serum through Vita Radiation and other experiments and used it on Steve Rogers in the Super Soldier Program. This meant that the only hope of resurrecting Erskine’s original serum was to use Captain America’s blood, but that hasn’t been enough. The formula is locked in his genetic code.
Super Soldier Serum has been attempted numerous times in the MCU since Erskine died. but none of them has worked, including the variant given to Isaiah Bradley; that of the Winter Soldier Program, and the imperfect one by Wilfred Nagel. Vita Radiation has made the Super-Soldier Serum so difficult to replicate, and some fans believe that Erskine may have used the Heart-Shaped Herb in its creation.
According to a Reddit theory, Howard Stark gave Erskine a sample of the heart-shaped herb, which can only be found in Wakanda, to make the serum. Tony’s father worked alongside Erskone in Project Rebirth; he also worked on new technology and more using vibranium, which was discovered in Wakanda by Stark Industries researchers. It is possible, according to the theory’s author, that after learning about the Black Panther and the abilities he gained through the herb, Stark obtained some of the Heart-Shaped Herb as well.
This is supported by the fact that Black Panther and Captain America both have similar powers and aren’t exactly superhumans, but rather enhanced humans. Now, Erskine’s Super Soldier Serum’s success may have been due to the Heart-Shaped Herb, which could have served as a stabilizing agent to prevent mutations like the one that occurred to Schmidt.
The Super Soldier Serum may have contained vibranium, in addition to Erskine’s use of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Aside from being an indestructible material for weapons and more, vibranium can be used for a wide range of purposes—including medical ones—in the MCU. Erskine could have easily taken a sample of vibranium from Howard Stark’s lab in the hope that it would give the Super Soldier Serum what he needed, and it turned out to be the missing ingredient. Getting vibranium was extremely difficult before Wakanda opened its borders, and since it’s a very rare material, those trying to recreate the serum would not have known Erskine used this element in the formula because it’s so difficult to acquire.
As superheroes, Captain America and Black Panther share a common bloodline, which would explain why they have similar abilities. However, there are a few questions and issues surrounding the two theories about the ingredients of the Super Soldier Serum. Even if Howard Stark had been as charismatic and influential as he is, it is widely believed that he would not have been able to get his hands on the Heart-Shaped Herb because it was not only reserved for the Wakandan royal family but also heavily guarded.
The Wakandans are unlikely to have let a complete stranger take a piece of one of their most prized elements, despite the fact that Howard could have lied about his methods. It has been pointed out by others that the herb has a connection to the Ancestral Plane and that Captain America never had access to it. but this could be explained by the rest of the serum’s ingredients neutralizing that part of the herb’s effects.
Because Steve Rogers is now retired, it’s unnecessary to link Captain America and Black Panther through the source of their powers, even if both theories are interesting and could work in some way The Super Soldier Serum’s origins and ingredients are unlikely to be explored further in the MCU, so any possible connections between it and Black Panther are likely to remain in the audience’s imagination – unless Marvel decides to expand on it as a supplement to the story of another superhero, in which case the audience will have to fill in the blanks.