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Before Wolverine: Who Were the First Weapon X Projects?

Wolverine may be the most famous result of Weapon X, but other Marvel heroes and villains have secretly been tied to Weapon Plus over the years.

Over the course of the history of the Marvel Universe, various figures have been retconned and revealed to be connected to one of the superhero universe’s most nefarious organizations: the Weapon Plus program, an institution that has experimented on figures from around the universe to turn them into living weapons.

Their products have included the artificially-created mutants of The World, and their most famous success stories include Deadpool and Wolverine — aka Weapon X. But plenty of other major Marvel characters have been revealed to be the result of the program — including some other major heroes even technically predating Wolverine’s connection to the program. Here are the heroes who have quietly been connected to Weapon Plus over the years.


As revealed in Weapon X #23 by Frank Tieri and Tom Mandrake, the Weapon Plus program was actually descended from the excitement the government had over the results of the World War II-era Project Rebirth — the same program that granted Steve Rogers enhanced physical abilities, turning him into Captain America. It was this success that spurred further experimentation within the program. This resulted in Captain America retroactively being designated as Weapon I when the Weapon Plus program began in earnest.


Weapon II was an attempt to weaponize a number of animals, cybernetically enhancing a number of animals to serve as living weapons. This resulted in both Weapon II — a mechanically improved squirrel with razor-sharp metal claws — and the Brute Force, a band of hyper-intelligent animal soldiers who eventually ended up in stasis until Wolverine and Captain America found them in the modern day in Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus by Ethan Sacks and Diogenes Neves.


Initially listed in New X-Men as being focused primarily on animal test subjects, Weapon III was revealed to have had one successful graduate — Harry Pizer, aka the Skinless Man. First appearing in Uncanny X-Force #21 by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, Harry had elastic and flexible skin, which the Weapon Plus program enhanced. The malicious Pizer eventually learned to control his muscle ligaments as tendrils after he was skinned by the Captain Britain Corps. A hated foe for Fantomex, the Skinless Man even briefly killed the hero before being killed himself by Deadpool.


Weapon IV was eventually revealed in Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus to have been connected to Project Sulfur. This attempt to control and weaponize terra-flornics resulted in the head scientist on the project, Ted Sallis, experimenting with the SO-2 Serum. In turn, it directly led to his transformation into the monstrous Man-Thing. Although Sallis would escape into the wilds of the Marvel Universe, his experiments eventually resulted in the creation of figures like Man-Slaughter, who recently reappeared in X-Force.


Absolute Carnage: Weapon Plus #1 by Ethan Sacks, Jed MacKay and Stefano Raffaele revealed that in 1965, a symbiote dragon was discovered frozen in the arctic. Codenamed Grendel, Nick Fury and his team experimented on the alien substance and facilitated the creation of the Sym-Soldiers for S.H.I.E.L.D. — effectively starting Weapon V, later dubbed Weapon Venom. Deployed during the course of the Vietnam War, the Sym-Soldiers proved uncontrollable and violent. The program was shut down — with a reawakened Grendel playing a role in Absolute Carnage and the ensuing King in Black storylines.


A veteran of the Vietnam War, Noah Burstein was revealed to have gotten involved with Weapon Plus in Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus. His experiments on Mitchell Tanner — who later became the unhinged and racially motivated villain Warhawk — impressed Weapon Plus enough for them to encourage more experimentation. His next batch was tested on residents of Seagate Prison. His most famous subject became Luke Cage — who was exposed to an increased amount of the experiment and given considerably enhanced strength and durability, becoming a major Marvel hero in his own right.


Dubbed “Project: Homegrown,” Weapon VII was technically introduced during the Daredevil story-arc, “Born Again” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Eventually revealed to be a part of the Weapon Plus program, the only survivor of the process was the violent Frank Simpson. Enhanced with armored implants into his skin and conditioned with a series of adrenaline pills, codename Nuke became a handy agent for darker government operations. He was believed dead following his battle with Daredevil in “Born Again,” but was later revealed to be alive — leading him to spend time with the Thunderbolts.


Weapon VIII remains perhaps the most mysterious of the Weapons Plus Program. Teased in New X-Men #145 by Grant Morrison and Chris Bachalo, Weapon VIII is seemingly a host of enhanced assassins and sleeper agents. Controlled through the use of drugs and hypnosis, the soldiers are seeded into the world — poised and prepared to assist the “Super Sentinels” like Fantomex and Ultimaton in their intended purpose of wiping out mutantkind. The products of Weapon VIII have yet to be formally introduced, leaving a hole in the history of the program — and potential for these sleeper agents to be activated.


Very little is known about the full history of Weapon IX — save for the confirmation that it took place in Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus. Dubbed Project Psyche, it was the last program before the Wolverine, and largely remains a mystery. However, given the imagery associated with the program and the fact that Michael Hunt — a psychiatrist with a connection to Typhoid Mary — was seemingly the head of the project, it’s clear that Weapon IX has some tie to Daredevil’s ex. A powerful mutant with multiple personas, Mary’s volatile powers and training make her a good candidate for the program.


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