When it comes to comic book storytelling, many rules are bent and broken, but there are certain core characteristics of each superhero that are considered inviolate.
One of those rules is that Captain America always fights for American ideals. It’s been that way since Jack Kirby and Joe Simon introduced him to the world with a picture of the hero slamming his fist into Adolf Hitler’s face in 1941. But it seems writer Nick Spencer has broken that rule with the first issue of “Captain America: Steve Rogers” No. 1 by revealing Cap’s longtime affiliation with terrorist group HYDRA.
In the wake of the comic book’s release on Wednesday, Spencer and Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort were dispatched to explain the decision after the hashtag #SayNoToHYDRACap trended on Twitter as a shorthand for fan outrage.
“There should be a feeling of horror or unsettledness at the idea that somebody like this can secretly be part of this organization,” Brevoort told Time regarding the fan backlash, which few will be surprised is the reaction Marvel was hoping for. “You should feel uneasy about the fact that everything you know and love about Steve Rogers can be upended.”
So, will we be seeing Chris Evans utter the words “Hail HYDRA” one day in a Marvel film? Welp, Marvel Studios already has its story arc planned out through 2019, when it will be releasing “Avengers: Infinity War,” so it seems unlikely at this point.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has also driven past previous major twists that Marvel comics have made with its characters, such as the introduction of female Thor.
Neither Disney nor Marvel Studios replied immediately to TheWrap’s requests for comment on the twist.
Still, Brevoort says he thinks it would be nice if this twist found its way onto movie screens one day.
“Honestly, while we love the films, we tend to chart our own course and not get too tangled up in where they happen to be in the curve of their own storytelling,” he said. “So we look at what we do as being the trailblazers. This gives the studio’s team a big swath of raw material to cherry-pick from when working out what next to do with the characters in their medium. Our stories of today are potentially the inspiration for the movies of tomorrow.”
As for Cap’s comic book future, Brevoort said one of the aims of the twist is to create tension whenever Steve Rogers interacts with other heroes going forward: “The most trusted hero in the Marvel Universe is now secretly a deep-cover Hydra operative, a fact that’s really only known to the readers and to him. That makes every interaction he has with anyone take on a second layer, a second meaning.”
In both interviews, Brevoort and Spencer teased that more information about Cap’s new history with HYDRA will be revealed in the next issue, and that this twist will have a major impact on Sam Wilson, previously the Falcon, who took over as the comic-book Captain America in 2014.
One thing is certain: This big twist was a major publicity victory for Marvel over main rival DC Comics. On the same day “Captain America: Steve Rogers” launched, DC released an 80-page event comic called “Rebirth,” which undid the company-wide reboot DC undertook three years ago and suggested a possible shift to more upbeat stories rather than grim tales similar to those of the critically-disdained “Batman v Superman.”
While “Rebirth” received praise from hardcore comics fans, it was Marvel and the turncoat Steve Rogers that grabbed mainstream attention. Hail HYDRA, indeed.