As a clandestine program often operating outside of the normal regulations of government, details surrounding the experiments and subjects of the Weapon Plus program have been few and far between. This guide is an attempt to compile the hard facts surrounding the mysterious program.
Originally referred to as the Weapon Plus program in 2002 during Grant Morrison’s run on the X-Men, the program has been revealed to be a brazen attempt to eliminate homo superior — more commonly known as mutants — from the face of the Earth by utilizing super soldiers.
Each subsequent experiment in the Weapon Plus program has relied on more and more extreme measures to accomplish this goal. Weapon I augmented humans, Weapon X involved genetic manipulation and brainwashing techniques, and later programs sought to combine man and technology to create killing machines. Join us as we take an in depth look at the Weapon Plus program, and the products of their experiments.
A coalition of scientists from the United States, England, and Germany began their research into homo superior in an effort to manipulate genetic mutations for military applications. The first research subject was a soldier named John Steele. Considered to be one of the first mutants, John Steele was an operative in WWI and WWII. He possessed superhuman strength, durability, and a singular motivation: killing Nazis.
For all we know, Tarantino may have borrowed Steele’s one man Nazi-destroying antics for his film Inglourious Basterds. Steele performed numerous missions behind enemy lines, acting as a spy and saboteur before being declared missing in action. The research obtained from Steele would allow the initial development of the super soldier serum that would later be used on Isaiah Bradley and Steve Rogers.
The initial super soldier serum was incredibly unstable, causing test subjects to be driven insane and suffer violent deaths. The first recipient of the serum was a disgraced soldier named Clinton McIntyre. Almost immediately after ingesting the serum, McIntrye went into a frenzy before apparently dying from a heart attack.
Scientist Abraham Erskine would eventually develop a serum which would give the recipient enhanced abilities such as super strength and durability. After experiments that involved unknowing African American soldiers, teh scientist eventually settled on Steve Rogers as the first recipient of the now refined super-soldier serum. The experiment was a success and Rogers would go on to take the mantle of Captain America, though Erskine was killed by a Nazi spy shortly after the successful transformation of Rogers, resulting in the serum’s formula being lost.
In an effort to replicate Erskine’s work on the super soldier serum, the United States government subjected unknowing African American soldiers at Camp Cathcart to experiments. Many of these soldiers would die as a result of these fatal experiments, and the United States even executed any remaining survivors in an effort to cover up their operation.
One of these experiments’ sole survivors was a man named Isaiah Bradley, who would commonly be known as the “Black Captain America,” even going as far to steal a spare Captain America costume and shield. Throughout the ’40s, Bradley engages in various suicide missions behind enemy lines until he is caught by the Nazis. Eventually freed from capture only to be court martialed and imprisoned by his own country, Bradley was pardoned and released in 1960. A legend in the black community but relatively unknown outside of it, unfortunately, Bradley’s mind would deteriorate as a result of the serum he was given.
The details surrounding Weapon II are murky at best, however, it is said to have involved experiments on animals. Grant Morrison, the writer behind the fleshing out of the Weapon Plus program, has heavily implied that the animals of the book We3, which he worked on, are the products of the Weapon II program. This, however, is not strictly canon, as We3 was published by Vertigo, which is not a part of Marvel. The book deals with a dog, cat, and rabbit whose cognitive abilities are enhanced to the point where they can talk, and are placed within nearly indestructible mech suits that can dole out some serious firepower. After becoming aware of the fact that they are being groomed as living weapons, they escape with the military hot on their tails.
While We3 is a great book with surprising emotional resonance, there is one test subject that has officially been revealed within the Marvel Universe, a squirrel with similar powers to that of Wolverine, including retractable claws and an adamantium skeleton. The little guy even has a the same gruff disposition of Wolverine, leading some to dub him “Wolverteeny.”
While originally focused on animal test subjects, a barrister named Harry Pizer was later recruited by the Weapon Plus program. A mutant with the ability to elongate and control his skin on a molecular level, the Weapon Plus program increased Pizer’s abilities and put him to work as a spy and assassin as Weapon III, primarily working against the Soviets during the Cold War, collecting intelligence and dispatching high value targets.
Eventually, he was sent into the Otherworld in order to use his skills to steal a magical orb that could raise the dead, killing numerous people in the process. The Captain Britain Corps, however, caught Weapon III in the act, and flayed him alive as punishment.
Looking like someone who has recently escaped the Cenobites from Hellraiser, a skinless Weapon III laid in wait while he taught his muscles to expand and contract in the same way that his skin used to.
The hero known as Fantomex would later use Weapon III’s discarded skin in order to make bullets that could be manipulated so that they would never miss their target. In retaliation, Weapon III cut Fantomex’s face off and eventually killed him by ripping his heart out of his chest.
Weapon IV, V & VI
Little is known about these experiments, including whether or not they were successful in creating a viable weapon, however, it has been mentioned that Weapons IV-VI involved experiments of an unknown capacity on various ethnic groups and prisoners.
Weapon VII was also known as Project: Homegrown, as these experiments focused on soldiers fighting during the Vietnam War. Many of the test subjects died as a direct result from their experimentation, however, there was one success in a soldier named Frank Simpson, later known as Nuke.
A savage individual who was capable of particularly brutal violence against his enemies, Nuke had armored implants underneath his skin and was given mood altering “adrenaline pills” to enhance his abilities. As a result of his conditioning and the highly addictive narcotics, Nuke was incredibly unstable, as evidenced by his extreme violence and the massive American flag tattoo he got on his face. And you thought Tyson was crazy.
It was later revealed that Logan, working for the Weapon Plus program, had kidnapped Simpson as a child and subjected him to various torture methods including psychological abuse. This resulted in Simpson becoming schizophrenic, reduced to nothing more than a puppet for whomever happens to be his current handler.
It’s also been suggested that Weapon VII was the first time the Weapon Plus program experimented with adamantium, which resulted in the creation of the villain known as Cyber. In addition, both the United Kingdom and a subsidiary of SHIELD had their own offshoots of Project Homegrown, which worked on super-soldiers using a modified serum derived from the original super-soldier formula that created Captain America.
Weapon VIII & IX
There is some contention as to what Weapon VIII and IX actually consisted of, however, it has been said that they were comprised of a variety of experiments done on psychopaths and criminals, though it is unclear as to whether this project produced any viable soldiers. According to Rob Liefeld, the creator of Deadpool, Wade Wilson was originally supposed to be a product of Weapon IX. Given The Merc with a Mouth’s mental instability, it would seem as though Deadpool could have easily been the product of this particular program, though it was officially retconned later on.
The most well known experiments of the Weapon Plus program belong to those designated Weapon X. The Weapon X program used mutants as its test subjects exclusively, and was successful in producing a number of notable subjects. The Weapon X program delved into a variety of fields, like genetic augmentation, psychological manipulation and memory implants. The most famous and well known of these subjects is Wolverine, who was used as a living killing machine for decades by the governments who created him.
The Weapon X program eventually splintered off from the Weapon Plus program, experimenting and training other mutants like Sabretooth, Silver Fox, and Maverick to run various covert operations.
Despite its successes, the Weapon X program was shut down and would eventually be absorbed by the Canadian Government’s Department K, who would go on to create Deadpool. Even later still, a civilian research company known as The Facility would successfully clone Wolverine from genetic samples of Logan left during his time with Weapon X. The genetic code was slightly damaged resulting in an unusable X chromosome, which later would produce the rule 63 Wolverine known as X-23.
No one has ever officially been designated Weapon XI, however his existence has been mentioned at various times throughout multiple books. It is believed by some that Weapon XI was one of the Hounds, a group of mutants who were trained to hunt down and kill other mutants, though this was never substantiated.
According to Rob Liefeld, Garrison Kane was initially meant to be Weapon XI, until it was established that Kane was actually a product of Weapon X, as it was responsible for grafting his cybernetic limbs that housed all sorts Liefeld-esque guns and a costume made exclusively of pouches. This all makes his later moniker, Weapon X, actually make sense.
The Weapon Plus program focused all of its resources into the development of The World, a facility in England that employed eugenics, nanotechnology and time manipulation in order to cultivate living weapons. The first product of The World was The Huntsman, a “super-sentinel” that kind of looked like a blue Sour Patch Kid.
Huntsman was in possession of a hive mind that could spread to others through contact, presumably through nanites. The scientists that created him integrated a killswitch as a failsafe in case they ever lost control. Ultimately, this failsafe was used against him during a battle, killing him and all of the innocent people he had possessed.
Born inside The World, Weapon XIII is a mutant combined with technology who also happens to be French for the sole reason that he finds that his accent makes people feel uncomfortable. Codenamed Fantomex, he has the ability to manifest his nervous system as EVA, a sexy robot that has no business being sexy, but is anyway.
He was originally created to be part of a media-friendly mutant kill squad, one that would be likable enough to the general public so as to make the systematic elimination of mutants more acceptable to the general public. However, Fantomex balked at this prospect and joined the X-Men.
Using ova taken from Emma Frost, a powerful mutant telepath, the Weapon Plus program cloned, fertilized and cultivated the eggs within the facility known as The World. The Weapon Plus program sought to link the minds of these clones, who numbered in the thousands, in order to magnify their powers and eliminate all mutants on Earth.
Five of these sisters, Sophie, Phoebe, Irma, Celeste and Esme, better known as the Stepford Cuckoos, were released from The World and became students at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning with no idea of their true purpose: to gain information about the X-Men and transmit that data back to The World via the nanobots in their bodies.
The sisters eventually learn of their origin and their intended purpose and seek to free their sisters from enslavement within The World. As hosts to the Phoenix, the sisters use its power to try and free their captive sisters, but the Phoenix Force destroys all of the clones instead. Furious, the sisters trap the Phoenix inside their hearts, at the cost of never feeling emotion again. Just like every girl you had a crush on in high school.
The latest living weapon produced in The World, Ultimaton was a highly advanced “techo-organic” hybrid with powerful energy projection capabilities. Like Weapons XII and XIII before him, Ultimaton was tasked with the elimination of the mutant race.
Despite his conditioning inside The World, after a confrontation with Wolverine, Cyclops and Fantomex, Ultimaton was left pondering what he would have become if he were not bred for violence.
This one was revealed to be a virus that targets the faith of an individual. The virus, dubbed Allgod, has the ability to influence those infected by it, essentially making them slaves. It only works in those who believe in a greater power, so atheists are shown to not be affected.
Will the X-Men films ever dive deeper into the Weapon Plus programs? Let us know what you think in the comments.