Why Did Captain America Say “Hail Hydra” That One Time? Comics Explained

Photo: Marvel Comics

Today we answer another fan letter about the wonderful world of comics and get to chat with the fan in question even further! Join us as we explore one of the biggest controversies in recent comics history!

Dear Marvelous Movies,
So is it true that Captain America was actually a Hydra spy in the comics? I remember that one time when he said “Hail Hydra” and the internet exploded about it! Why would he say that? And why would Marvel just ruin their greatest hero like that?
Spencer Nickerson of Arlington, Virginia

Great question, Spencer! Let’s see what we can find!

Captain America Steve Rogers Vol 1 1
Photo: Marvel Comics

MM: As most of us know, Cap has fought against the terrorist group H.Y.D.R.A. (Hateful Yokels Doing Rotten Acts) for a long time! So imagine everyone’s surprise when, in 2016, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 ended with Cap saying “Hail Hydra!” right after pushing a good guy out of a plane! Fans were definitely confused and mad, and some people even sent hate mail and death threats to the issue’s writer!

SN: Yeah! How dare they sabotage Cap’s character like that? He’s supposed to be the one true American hero!
MM: Well, hold your horses there! What a lot of casual fans don’t realize is that most comic issues branded as #1 tend to be followed by a #2 the very next month! And comics often utilize a little-known literary feature called a “cliffhanger ending” or “to be continued” to lead into it!

SN: Wow, who knew? So you’re saying that there’s more to the story?
MM: Now you’re catching on! Cap apparently being Hydra was just one mystery yet to be explained! So it was probably a little premature to send in death threats to the writer. In fact, that behavior is usually frowned upon for any sort of creative author or artist!

SN: Oof. So does that mean I should just throw out this letter I was working on to Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson?
MM: Well, on second thought…

Captain America Steve Rogers Vol 1 2
Photo: Marvel Comics

SN: Never mind. So then what was the explanation for Cap being Hydra?
MM: Well, the short answer is that he was brainwashed by his arch-nemesis, the Red Skull! Cap wasn’t always Hydra, but he now had false memories that made him think he was!

SN: Hmm. And what’s the long answer?
MM: Well, a few years earlier, the Iron Nail had neutralized the Super Soldier Serum in Cap’s blood, so his body aged to match his real age of 90-something! So he was Old Man Cap just like at the end of Endgame for a while! Later, the Cosmic Cube (which is called the Tesseract in the movies) was able to change him back. Except the Cosmic Cube had actually turned into a 4-year-old girl named Kobik, and the Red Skull had manipulated her into thinking Hydra was good, so when she restored Cap to his young and muscly body again, she also made him loyal to Hydra!

SN: Wow…okay. Guess you can’t make this stuff up!
MM: You can if you write comic books for a living!

Ant-Man’s friend Luis.
Photo: Marvel Studios

SN: Seriously, I feel like we need to get Ant-Man’s friend Luis in here to narrate that junk.
MM: Agreed! And it would hardly be any weirder!

SN: Okay, so what? Cap is just evil in the comics now?
MM: Nope! Nothing is forever in comics! This whole thing eventually culminated in an event called Secret Empire, where Hydra Cap took over the whole U.S. and the other heroes had to stop him! And when they did, the real Captain America came back and helped beat up the bad one too!

SN: Wait, I thought you said they just turned the real Cap evil–not that they made a whole separate person who was an evil clone of him.
MM: Yeah, that part honestly wasn’t explained too much. Best not to question it!

SN: So there’s an evil version of Cap in the comics now?
MM: Yep! It was a very original storyline! I mean, what superhero has ever had to go up against his own evil doppleganger before?

SN: And what do they call him? Captain Tyrannica?
MM: No–Stevil Rogers!

SN: Ha! You guys got the jokes today!
MM: That part was 100% true, but okay!

SN: So was this story supposed to be some kind of metaphor/political statement about the corruption of the American dream?
MM: Only if the American dream turned old and frail, got messed with by the Cosmic Cube, and then turned into an evil clone of itself! Wait a second–actually, you might be onto something there!

SN: So, on another note, I was writing this letter to the people who made the last season of Game of Thrones–
MM: I think we’re done here!

Have questions about comics, movies, and pop culture? Send ’em in to thegeniuses@marvelousmovies.com!


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