Last year, Marvel announced Captain America was about to head down a dark path and become one of the very villains he had sworn to fight against, but the company doesn’t want this to get political.
At the end of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, writer Nick Spencer revealed that Captain America had actually been an agent of Hydra, the fictional facist group in Marvel’s universe that rose in Germany in WWII and colluded with the Nazis, all along. Next month, Marvel will introduce a massive crossover event, called Secret Empire, that will explain how Steve Rogers hid his allegiance to Hydra so well throughout his time with the Avengers and bring his devious plans to the forefront of Marvel’s story. The effects, Spencer told Entertainment Weekly, will be devastating.
Despite the affiliation that Captain America now has with Hydra, a fascist group with goals of world domination, Marvel’s editor-in-chief Axel Alonso explicitly stated that it has nothing to do with the current political climate occurring in the world right now. Alonso added that in no way was Captain America’s allegiance to Hydra, a group that was practically founded by Nazi party member Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, at all a political statement.
Captain America was co-created by Jack Kirby, a Jewish man who lived during a period of anti-Semitism, and worked anti-fascist content into Captain America comics. There were multiple times that Kirby clashed with readers over his beliefs, which led to the artist taking harassing phone calls. When Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 was first introduced, Spencer and Marvel took heat from readers who complained about the direction the comic was taking.
As such, Alonso acknowledged this is a big moment for the Marvel universe. It’s taking the publisher’s golden boy and turning him into the worse version of himself. It’s something Marvel readers are going to have to contend with, but it seems weird for Alonso to call out the horrible association Captain America now has without calling it political.
“This is Hydra taking over, this is bad guys taking over, and this is the Marvel Universe facing this and looking at hero they trust most and saying, how could he have done this?,” Alonso told Entertainment Weekly. “One of the things we want readers asking is not just how are they gonna defeat this evil, but what’s the Cap story in this? How is it possible for there to be a redemptive arc for Cap? Is that Marvel’s intention? That’s what we’re looking at for the next months.”
Alonso said everyone at Marvel knows that they can’t just take Captain America, give him a new uniform and expect people to just accept it. He promised, however, there was a reason for why they were doing it and asked readers to trust their creative team.
“Bluntly put, when you decide to have Cap say, ‘Hail Hydra,’ you better have a plan,” Alonso said. “And we have one! It’s a huge story, there are some incredible reveals in the story and an amazingly stirring third act and climax.