In the comics, Hydra was invented as world-controlling set of bad guys and has been reinvented constantly, initially as a body with anonymous bureaucrats as its head, then as allies of the Nazis, then as an ancient East Asian body seeking to extend influence and take over the world. It all depends on the comic and the writer.
In the movies, they were the scientific wing of the Nazi Party, when introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger — that was their origin without question, and was backed up by recent episodes of the TV show Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. with a series of scenes seemingly aimed at the comic book side of the publisher, emphasizing that yes, Hydra is a Nazi organization and the ancient East Asian history was something concocted by propagandists.
But given that the movie/TV version of Hydra is unquestionably Nazi in origin, there are some really strange quirks to that.
This exchange that ended Captain America: Winter Soldier, with Garry Shandling‘s Senator Stern and Maximiliano Hernández‘s James Sitwell both revealed as Hydra was strange. No backstory, no mind wipes — we just have character portrayed by a Jewish actor and an Asian-American character swearing fealty to the Nazis.
Equally, in the world of the Framework, which extrapolates its reality from the real world in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent May is Director of Hydra, whereas S.H.I.E.L.D. only has white men in charge. Again, the agents of Hydra are of similar or greater demographic mix than S.H.I.E.L.D. has managed. And this is in a world where Hydra are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Inhumans as well as experimentation by Fitz, who with a different life story, is now not only Hydra, not only Nazi, but is Goebbels.
Yet, the reaction is far more muted compared to the comic book storylines of Captain America and a variant cover or two of Magneto.
Similarly, there was far greater upset at Hydra Captain America holding the hammer of Thor, and being rewritten to be a fascist-if-not-an-actual-Nazi, than there was to Scarlet Witch, a character with a Romani background, being a Hydra Avenger. That was handwaved away, along with Vision, as being turned by magic and technology.
But there was no such explanation for Thor Odinson being a Hydra Avenger — at least not yet. And hardly any outrage expressed that I could find anywhere. This was basically it. As opposed to the Civil War when everyone was up in arms at the action of Clone Thor. He even got a mocking nickname, Clor. What about Hydra Avenger Thor? Couldn’t we call him Hitlor?
I’m not saying people shouldn’t be concerned, or even outraged. I have specific concerns myself about what seems to be the fetishization of Nazi regalia, and I consider that some of the marketing could have been thought through from a different angle — one that could have also alleviated distress in the process.
But why does such concern seem to be so inconsistent? Why Cap and not Thor? Why so much less for Scarlet Witch than for fascistic character Magneto, when her scenes are actually on the page and Magneto’s are just a couple of variant covers? (And hint, it looks like he’s not going to be Hydra at all, more a leader of a separated mutant nation that holds a truce with Hydra America; think Hitler and Stalin at the outbreak of WWII.)
Basically, I want the internet to make sense. Is that too much to ask?
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