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The serum amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows... compassion.
~ Dr. Abraham Erskine to Steve Rogers.
Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.
~ Dr. Erskine to Rogers.

Doctor Abraham Erskine is a major supporting character in Captain America: The First Avenger, and a mentioned character in The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers.

He was a German scientist who created the super soldier serum, and after escaping from Nazi Germany, became a member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve. Choosing the compassionate Steve Rogers, Erskine succeeded in creating the world's first super soldier, but was assassinated immediately afterwards. His words greatly impacted Rogers, who would go on to fight against HYDRA during the Second World War.

He was portrayed by Stanley Tucci, who also voiced a different version of the character in the Disney+ animated series, What If...?, and also played Joshua Joyce in Transformers: Age of Extinction and Cadenza in Beauty and the Beast.

Biography

Background

Abraham Erskine was born on September 14th, 1869 in Augsburg, Germany to unnamed parents, and would become a scientist during his adulthood. At an unknown point in his life, Erskine would marry a woman named Greta, and the two had two children named Marlene and Klaus Erskine. Erskine would develop a serum that would enhanced an individual's physiology, giving them superior strength, speed, durability, endurance and metabolism. His work would be noticed by Adolf Hitler, who had gathered much support after Germany suffered from the loss of World War I. Hitler asked Erskine to work for him, but the latter refused, and decided to take his family out of Germany to protect them.

He failed as Hitler's closest right-hand, Johann Schmidt, prevented Erskine and his family from leaving, forcing the doctor to work on the serum. Erskine's family would be sentenced to the Dachau concentration camp, and later died of typhus during an outbreak in December of 1937. While imprisoned by the Third Reich, Erskine was forced to perfect his formula, and came into conflict with Schmidt, who wanted to take the serum for himself due to his belief that it would make him a superior man. When threatened at gunpoint, Erskine reluctantly gave Schmidt an early version of the serum, which gave him enhanced abilities, but also turned him into a hideous individual physically and mentally. The doctor would be thrown into a dungeon by Schmidt to die a slow death, but he was saved by SSR agent Peggy Carter and was taken to the United States.

Being relocated to New York City, Erskine was recruited into the Strategic Scientific Reserve by Colonel Chester Phillips to perfect his formula. Phillips employed Erskine to perfect his serum to create super soldiers to fight against the Nazis, and the doctor agreed to stop the Third Reich while they allowed him to choose candidates for Project Rebirth.

Captain America: The First Avenger

While still looking for candidates for the project, Dr. Erskine would encounter Steve Rogers at Stark's Expo, and looked up his records to see that Rogers had tried to enlist in the military despite his skinny appearance. Hearing Rogers state that he doesn't want to kill Germans, Erskine was satisfied with Steve's moral compass, and decided to choose him for Project Rebirth.

Despite Phillips not liking the idea of choosing Rogers, Erskine remained confident in his choice, and his actions proved fruitful after seeing his candidate risk his life by jumping on a dummy grenade. The night of the test, Erskine spoke with Rogers and revealed his true reasons for choosing him, telling of his experience of Schmidt.

The day of the test, Erskine was assisted by Howard Stark on injecting Rogers with penicillin and putting him into the machine to receive the serum. Erskine's project was a success, as Rogers received the formula and emerged from the chamber more taller and muscular than before. While celebrating his achievement with his colleagues, Erskine was assassinated by Heinz Kruger, a subordinate of Schmidt sent to sabotage the project to prevent America from gaining the formula. Before dying from his gunshot wound, Erskine pointed at Rogers' chest, reminding his friend to remember who he was inside - a good man. After his death, Rogers attempted to apprehend Kruger, but the latter committed suicide with a cynaide capsule.

Legacy

Erskine was remembered by his colleagues for his work, and he was later remembered by Midtown School of Science and Technology, who had a mural painting of him, and WHiH World News for his achievement in 2015. He was greatly remembered by Rogers, who remembered his friends' words on remembering who he was inside, and became one of the world's greatest heroes during World War II and the twenty-first century.

Despite the destruction of Erskine, many scientists and military personnel would attempt to replicate the serum for decades. The most notable being Dr. Bruce Banner, who believed gamma radiation was the key to recreate the formula. Banner would use gamma radiation on himself in his experiments, which turned him into a monstrous creature that would become known as the Hulk. Another individual who attempted to recreate the serum was military officer Thaddeus Ross, who wanted to capture Banner but also had his subordinate, Emil Blonsky, be a test subject. Erskine's work was successfully replicated by Wilfred Nigel in the 2020s, as he was tasked so by the CIA before the decimation, leading him to work on the serum for the Power Broker after his project lost funding.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Stanley Tucci was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting actor for his performance.
  • One of the many reasons Tucci accepted the role as he saw it as an opportunity to use a German accent.
  • Eeskine's serum causes diffrent results depending on the person and outside influences.
    • Red Skull got a prototype, which hideously deformed his head.
    • Captain America got the perfect serum, giving him longevity and a perfect physique.
    • Hulk was created from a serum laced with gamma radiation.
      • She-Hulk received a transfusion of his blood.
    • Abomination initially got a faulty version that deformed his spine and made him more aggressive; before getting Hulk's blood and mutating further, with a secondary mutation a decade later.
    • Zola created a near perfect copy for the Winter Soldiers. But it made them more aggressive when not under hypnotic programming.
      • US Agent and Flag Smasher were more prone to homicidal impulses after taking this version.

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