In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5, Sam Wilson returns to visit Isaiah Bradley, who reveals his scars and tragic story as a Super Soldier, darkly mirroring the story of Steve Rogers as he was never allowed to become Captain America himself. In Falcon & Winter Soldier episode 5, “Truth,” Sam and Bucky Barnes fought and defeated the new government-approved Captain America, John Walker, after he publicly executed one of the Flag-Smashers in response to the death of his partner Battlestar. This led to Sam getting the shield back.
Now that Sam has the shield in his possession once more, he’s looking for answers, with one of the main ones being why things went so wrong for Isaiah Bradley, the US government’s second successful attempt at creating a Super Soldier. Living under the radar and out of the public’s knowledge, Sam can’t understand why no one knows about Bradley or why he had been imprisoned for 30 years.
Isaiah Bradley’s MCU Backstory Explained
In the MCU, it’s been revealed that Isaiah Bradley was part of an entire unit of Black men in the 1950s who were essentially used as lab rats during the Korean War. Going out on several missions, Bradley revealed that he was one of the only members of his unit to survive and actually remain stable from the super soldier serum injections they all received. Bradley also had an encounter with the Winter Soldier in 1951, as HYDRA feared Bradley and his power just like they did Steve Rogers. After several troops that were sent in to take Barnes down never came back, the US finally sent in Bradley, and their brawl resulted in half of the Winter Soldier’s arm being ripped off in Goyang.
However, Bradley became enraged during Bucky and Sam’s first visit to his home in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 2, and one of the last things he revealed was that he was imprisoned for 30 years for being a hero, constantly being experimented on by both the US government and secret HYDRA agents. While Sam was naturally quite shocked by this revelation, Bucky confirms that Steve Rogers never knew about Bradley, feeling as though Isaiah had already been through enough.
As Falcon & The Winter Soldier episode 5 reveals with Sam’s second visit to see Isaiah Bradley, his deeper origins are incredibly tragic and heartbreaking. While there’s portions that are the same as the comics, there are some key differences and alterations, such as Bradley’s wife dying while he was still in prison, and all the letters she had written were kept from him until he managed to break out of his confinement. However, more details and differences of Isaiah Bradley’s dark past as a Super Soldier are revealed as well.
How Bradley’s Story Was Told In The Comics
Isaiah Bradley’s MCU origins tracks rather well with those in the comics (albeit more streamlined). Being selected and experimented on against his will alongside 300 other Black soldiers during WWII, Bradley’s entire platoon unwillingly became part of Project Rebirth in its attempts to recreate Super Soldiers like Captain America. However, Bradley was the only one to actually survive the process after the others in his covert ops team died. On his final mission to kill the doctor of Germany’s Super Soldier program, Bradley stole one of Captain America’s costumes and shields. While he was victorious in his mission, his eventual return resulted in a court-marshal and life imprisonment for stealing the identity of Captain America.
However, he was released 17 years in after his wife convinced the President for a pardon, on the condition that he would swear to a life of secrecy about what had been done to him. While Bradley kept quiet, word about the Black Captain America spread across black communities all over the country, and his name was honored by many of Marvel’s Black heroes. Furthermore, his grandson Eli would become a the Young Avenger known as Patriot, having received a blood transfusion from his grandfather to gain the powers and strength of a Super Soldier as well. Note: Sweeping Strides Towards Their Next Team
Where Isaiah Bradley Got His Scars
Sadly, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 5 reveals that Isaiah Bradley was tortured and imprisoned for his heroic actions, receiving terrible scars as a result. He was then experimented on and had his blood taken for 30 years. However, a nurse took pity on him and declared him dead by altering paperwork, helping him escape and giving him the box filled with his late wife’s letters. Since that time, Bradley had remained hidden and buried, his history erased due to the country’s racism and apparent refusal to let a Black man be Captain America.
While Falcon & Winter Soldier doesn’t reveal exactly how Bradley got his scars, it’s clear that they come from his punishment and the experiments at the hands of the U.S. government, rather than on the battlefield. These scars suggest the government did much more than simply take samples of his blood, inflicting greater acts of suffering upon his body, perhaps with knife cuts or even branding. This is his ultimate punishment, and it’s one that ties to the “500 years” past Isaiah mentions.Note: At first, They’re Cast Aside Due To Their?
Isaiah Bradley’s Story Mirrors Steve Rogers’
What makes Isaiah Bradley’s MCU origins even worse is how close they mirror those of Steve Rogers. Just like Steve, Bradley was given the Super Soldier Serum, and was driven to be a hero. While he might not have taken a suit and shield like in the comics, he did rescue POWs and bring his allies home, just like Rogers did in Captain America: The First Avenger. However, while Rogers was given respect, honor, and was treated as hero, truly becoming Captain America in the eyes of the people, Bradley was punished, harmed, and thrown in jail to be experimented on so they could recreate their success…with someone else. Not only that, but they both had lost loves. However, while Captain America would eventually reunite with Peggy at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Bradley lost his wife for good, though his lost love never needed to be lost in the first place. Note: Prompting Negative Reactions From Fans