How Powerful John Walker Is As Captain America With The Serum

Warning: SPOILRS ahead for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 4, the newly-appointed Captain America gives himself a strength boost by injecting himself with the super-soldier serum – but exactly how strong is John Walker? The character has appeared in the pages of Marvel Comics under various mantles, including Super Patriot and U.S. Agent, but in Captain America #333 he was chosen to replace Steve Rogers after the original Captain America resigned.

John Walker’s appointment to the role of Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe occurred under slightly different circumstances. Steve had given up his superhero mantle and shield in order to enjoy a well-deserved retirement with Peggy Carter, and he chose his close friend Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon to replace him. After Falcon returned the shield to the government, however, John Walker was chosen as the “recast” Captain America due to his military record, his skill with Cap’s shield, and his PR-friendly, blond-haired, blue-eyed good looks. Among the things John lacked, however, was Steve Rogers’ super-soldier strength.

Related: New Evidence Sharon Carter Is Falcon & Winter Soldier’s Power Broker

Of course, John’s real shortcomings as Captain America have nothing to do with superpowers and everything to do with his moral character. But after getting beaten down by both the Dora Milaje and the Flag-Smashers, he uses a stray vial of the super-soldier serum developed by Dr. Nagel, making himself a greater threat not only to the Flag-Smashers, but to anyone who gets in his way. So, how powerful is John Walker? Here’s a breakdown of his abilities in the MCU and the comics.

The super-soldier serum that John Walker uses isn’t the same one that Steve was given in Captain America: The First Avenger, or the one that Bucky was given by HYDRA. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3, Dr. Nagel explained that he’d reverse-engineered the formula using blood from a test subject with traces of a World War II-era serum, and then refined and improved it when making his own version for the Power Broker. “Mine was going to be different,” Nagel explains. “No clunky machines or jacked-up bodies. Mine was going to be subtle, optimized. Perfect.” Unlike the experiments that Bucky underwent or the complex set-up required to transform Steve Rogers, Nagel’s serum can be delivered simply by injecting the contents of a small vial. Recipients like Karli Morgenthau don’t end up covered in bulky muscles like Steve did, but instead get all of the benefits without outwardly changing their bodies.

John’s new abilities are on display towards the end of “The World is Watching,” when he searches for the captured Battlestar and the Flag-Smashers. His senses appear to be enhanced and he has lightning-fast reflexes, making him able to dodge a knife suddenly thrown at him from behind. He throws the Captain America shield hard enough to embed it deeply in a brick wall, kicks one of the Flag-Smashers a great distance through the air, and easily bends a metal pipe with his bare hands. He’s at least as strong as Steve Rogers in his prime – and, due to his poorly-controlled rage, might be even stronger.

In Captain America #333, John Walker reveals that he bought his super-soldier serum directly from the Power Broker, alongside his old friend Lemar Hoskins (who took up the name “Bucky” when John became Captain America). John says that after receiving the serum he was capable of lifting 10 tons – the equivalent of a semi-truck or a couple of elephants. Along with the super-strength he received the usual array of super-soldier powers, such as greater durability, healing, speed and agility.

Related: Is John Walker Evil In The Comics?

One thing the super-soldier serum couldn’t do was teach John how to use Captain America’s shield, and he initially struggled to properly make use of it in fights. As seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, John Walker lacks self-restraint and that carried over to his attempts to use the shield. In training exercises he would throw the shield using all of his enhanced strength, resulting in blows likely to kill or maim, and he was unable to catch it after it was thrown. It was only after watching old World War II training videos of Captain America, and finally being coached by Taskmaster, that John was able to use the shield properly. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s John Walker has more skill, thanks to training with the shield before he became a super-soldier, but when his temper gets the better of him he uses it in a crude and deadly way.

Marvel Comics answered this question early on with a one-on-one fight between Captain America and (as he was initially known) Super-Patriot. Steve Rogers was shocked by the strength and fighting skill of this newcomer, and the two of them ended up trading blows for an hour with neither one of them being able to keep the other down. Eventually they were both exhausted and the fight ended with a draw, proving that the incoming Captain America was a perfect match for the original – at least, in terms of strength.

The MCU’s Steve Rogers has demonstrated feats of enormous strength. In Captain America: Civil War he was able to prevent a helicopter from flying away by anchoring it to the helipad with nothing but the power of his biceps. In Avengers: Infinity War he was able to grapple with Thanos, briefly matching the strength of a Titan wielding an Infinity Gauntlet. Even Thanos was visibly taken aback by Steve’s raw strength, which is saying something considering how many battles he’d fought in during his lifetime. But what little we’ve seen of John Walker post-serum suggests that he could hold his own in a fight with Steve, and that the two of them could well end up in a stalemate similar to their first fight in the comics.

The two Captain Americas aren’t exactly the same, however. John Walker’s poor emotional control and lack of restraint means that he doesn’t instinctively pull his punches in order to prevent serious harm, and likely isn’t afraid to play dirty in order to win a fight. Steve Rogers, meanwhile, has greater strength of character, making him worthy to wield Mjolnir in Avengers: Endgame. He’s less hampered by his own ego than John is, which makes him a stronger leader capable of inspiring loyalty and determination among his allies. And in the hearts of MCU fans, John Walker will never be able to live up to Steve Rogers’ legacy.

More: Why The Winter Soldier Is More Powerful Than Bucky

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