Who Is Doctor Nagel? Link To The Secret Captain America Explained

Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 3, “Power Broker,” reveals the scientist behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest batch of super soldiers. In Marvel Comics. Dr. Wilfred Nagel has a crucial connection to Isaiah Bradley, the secret Captain America who fought HYDRA in the 1940s and ’50s, and was rewarded for his service with 30 years in prison and having his name erased from the history books.

When Bucky and Sam visited Isaiah in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 2, “The Star-Spangled Man,” he told them that during his time behind bars he’d been subjected to medical experiments and samples of his blood were taken. In “Power Broker” Sam and Bucky team up with Baron Zemo to track down Dr. Nagel, the scientist employed by HYDRA to reverse-engineer a new super soldier serum using a blood sample from an American test subject with traces of the serum in his blood – presumably Isaiah.

Related: Isaiah Bradley Explained – The MCU’s Forgotten Captain America

Both Isaiah Bradley and Dr. Nagel first appeared in the 2003 Marvel Comics miniseries Truth: Red, White and Black, by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker. Here’s how the characters are connected, and why they’re crucial to the ongoing history of super soldiers in the MCU.

When Sam, Bucky and Zemo track down Dr. Nagel in a hidden laboratory on the crime haven island of Madripoor, he tells them that he initially began working on HYDRA’s Winter Soldier program. The villainous organization was trying to perfect its super soldier serum after their test subjects proved unstable and had to be put on ice in Siberia (where they were eventually killed by Zemo). Nagel’s work was stalled when HYDRA fell during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but he was then recruited by the CIA in order to work on their own super soldier project. According to Nagel, he was working with blood samples from “an American test subject with semi-stable traces of serum in his system.”

Dr. Nagel’s research hit a second roadblock when he turned to dust during The Blip. By the time he returned, five years later, the CIA’s super soldier research program was dead. At that point Dr. Nagel began working for the Power Broker, a mysterious crime boss who holds power over Madripoor. Nagel succeeded in creating a more subtle and refined super soldier serum, giving people all the strength, agility and durability of Captain America without the side effect of changing their physical appearance – which is why Karli Morgenthau and the other Flag Smashers don’t look like super soldiers at first glance. The Flag Smashers stole 20 vials of Dr. Nagel’s super soldier serum, and he was working on creating more when Sam, Bucky and Zemo tracked him down.

Truth: Red, White and Black is loosely based on the real-life Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which hundreds of African-American men were subjected to medical experiments without their knowledge or consent. The comic explores the dark underbelly of the time in which Captain America was first active, revealing that many of the early heroics credited to Steve Rogers were actually the work of a Black super-soldier who wore a Captain America uniform: Isaiah Bradley. Isaiah’s story was buried by the U.S. government not only because of the color of his skin, but also because of the circumstances of how he came to have superpowers.

Related: Why Sharon Carter Wasn’t Pardoned After Civil War

This is where Dr. Wilfred Nagel comes in. Nagel was one of two German scientists to be given the alias “Dr. Reinstein” – the first being Dr. Abraham Erskine, who was responsible for the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. After Dr. Erskine was assassinated in 1941, Dr. Nagel took up the mantle of “Reinstein” and began working to recreate the super soldier serum. He requested 300 African-American soldiers to use as guinea pigs in his experiments, and these soldiers – Isaiah Bradley among them – were rounded up without being told what their new “assignment” would be. Their families were told that they’d been killed in action, and the remaining soldiers at their military camp were massacred in order to ensure no one would know the truth.

Dr. Nagel was essentially America’s version of Nazi scientist Joseph Mengele – performing experiments on what he termed “the inferior races” in order to perfect his super soldier serum. Many of his test subjects died horrible deaths due to being injected with unrefined versions of the serum, and of the few who were successfully turned into super soldiers and put to work on the battlefield, only Isaiah Bradley survived.

Unlike the version of the character in Marvel Comics, the MCU’s Dr. Nagel wasn’t responsible for giving Isaiah Bradley the super soldier serum, since he wouldn’t have been born until well after Isaiah’s active superhero days. Instead, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has so far suggested that Dr. Nagel used the blood samples that were taken from Isaiah during his imprisonment to reverse-engineer the super soldier serum. Since Nagel didn’t explicitly name Isaiah it’s possible that the blood samples were taken from another test subject, like Bucky Barnes or Steve Rogers. But if that were the case, it would lessen the impact of the story that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been telling so far.

Steve Rogers’ super soldier origin story is perfectly packaged to represent American ideals. He had humble beginnings, was selected because of his bravery and purity of heart, and he volunteered to be given the super soldier serum. Even after becoming superhuman, he used his powers for good and didn’t harm people unnecessarily. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has already introduced one dark mirror of Steve Rogers in the form of John Walker, who is now wearing the Captain America costume and wielding the vibranium shield, but behaves viciously towards civilians when he feels disrespected. Isaiah Bradley and Dr. Nagel are another way of challenging the propaganda-friendly image of Captain America; what was done to Isaiah can’t be blamed on HYDRA agents or Nazis, but was the work of the American government itself. After hearing Nagel’s story, Sam Wilson wonders if he shouldn’t have destroyed the Captain America shield instead of giving it back.

Related: Why Bucky Still Has The Winter Soldier Inside Him

Sam and Bucky are able to recruit Zemo to their side for one simple reason: he hates super soldiers. Captain America: Civil War set up the idea that Zemo wanted to take control of HYDRA’s five frozen Winter Soldiers, but instead he killed them – mockingly asking Steve and Bucky, “Did you really think I wanted more of you?” Zemo’s family was killed during the Avengers’ battle with Ultron in Sokovia, and it’s because of this that he opposes any attempts to create more people with superhuman abilities.

When Sharon Carter arrives in Dr. Nagel’s laboratory with a warning that bounty hunters are closing in on them, Zemo takes the opportunity to shoot Nagel dead, and a subsequent explosion destroys the laboratory. In killing the only scientist with the knowledge of how to create super soldiers, Zemo ensured that Nagel wouldn’t be able to make any more of the serum. And when the unlikely trio eventually catch up to Karli and the Flag-Smashers, Zemo will almost certainly try to thwart Sam and Bucky’s efforts to bring them in alive.

More: Falcon & The Winter Soldier: Every MCU Easter Egg In Episode 3

Originally from https://screenrant.com/falcon-winter-soldier-doctor-wilfred-nagel-identity-comics/

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