Captain America’s origin story is simply incredible. He was the only successful result of the Super Solider serum experiment and everything that followed after Rogers was nothing less than a catastrophe. In Civil War, we saw another being as strong, agile and fast as Super Soldier: Black Panther. He has a suit made of Vibranium, the same substance which constitutes Cap’s shield.
The solo films of both these characters featured their origins and how they became who they are. In Cap’s case, it was the Super Soldier Serum and in Black Panther’s case, it was the heart-shaped herb, only found in Wakanda. Now a new Reddit theory by user 4DimensionalToilet links the origin of Cap’s powers to the Heart-shaped herb.
The user points out the similarities between the two, in terms of abilities and reasons why Dr. Erskine’s experiment only worked once.
“Erskine’s original attempt at making a super soldier failed, deforming Johann Schmidt into the Red Skull. A few years later, Erskine was ready to try again. With the help of the brilliant Howard Stark, he perfected it and turned the weakling Steve Rogers into the super soldier Captain America.
The difference between the two attempts is that Erskine was now working with Howard Stark. Stark, as we know, had acquired enough Vibranium to make a shield sometime before Cap formed the Howling Commandoes.
Seeing as vibranium only comes from Wakanda, Stark must have gone to Wakanda (or at least he had a contact there) in order to get his hands on the vibranium needed to make the shield. At some point during his dealings with the Wakandans, Stark must have heard about the Black Panther and his superhuman abilities.”
The theory further states how Stark came up with the idea of bringing a Super Soldier to America, and for that, he took the heart-shaped herb from Wakanda.
“Stark, if not already working with Erskine by this point, would have realized that if America could harness the powers of the Black Panther, they could be used to create a super soldier. Seeing as how Stark was working with and doing science for the US military, he could have figured out that Erskine was the man to talk to about creating an American super soldier.
If Stark was already working with Erskine by the time he found out about the Black Panther, he would have told Erskine about the Black Panther and gotten the go-ahead to figure out how to incorporate it into the super soldier program.
So Stark manages to get some Heart-Shaped Herb via some kind of deal, or maybe he just steals some of it (à la Rocket and the Sovereign’s batteries) when he finds out that the Wakandans aren’t willing to exchange it for anything.
Now that the Americans have the Heart Shaped Herb, the Super Soldier program can continue unhindered. The Herb seems to contain a stabilizing agent which prevents unwanted mutations (e.g. turning into the Red Skull) during the enhancement process. The research is completed and they are ready to find a candidate. That candidate ends up being Steve Rogers.”
The Redditor then talks about the failures of the Super Soldier Serum without the Heart-shaped Herb in the present day, as that’s what resulted in creating monsters like Abomination and even Hulk.
“The influence of the Heart Shaped Herb on the MCU doesn’t stop there. The reason that Bruce Banner got turned into the Hulk instead of successfully relaunching the Super Soldier Program (like Ross wanted) in The Incredible Hulk (2008) is that the key ingredient — the Heart Shaped Herb’s stabilizing agent — was missing, and the same goes for Blonsky when he turns into the Abomination.”