All hail HYDRA. Since its live action debut in Captain America: The First Avenger, HYDRA has been a constant threat to the MCU going forward, despite being seemingly deceased at various times. The Red Skull introduced us to a new type of villainous organization that could even put Adolf Hitler to shame. Now, with the new Captain America: Civil War in release, audiences will surely get to know more about HYDRA and what went into warping Bucky Barnes into the ruthless Winter Soldier.
As with the rest of the MCU, HYDRA comes straight from the comics, and again, is a recurring source of conflict for the heroes in the pages, and not just Captain America. However, the MCU has a drastically different depiction of that organization from the comics. While naturally they have the same foundation complete with their little “Hail HYDRA” tagline, they have almost nothing else in common (as is to be expected with movie adaptations).
Because most of you have only gotten a taste of HYDRA’s true strength from the Marvel movies, you might be shocked to hear about what they’ve done throughout the comics. They’ve done horrible things that have even threatened the very existence of every hero to date, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So be prepared for the worst and get your vibranium shields in hand as we examine one of the most diabolical groups in fictional history. Here are 11 terrible things that you didn’t know about Marvel’s HYDRA.
11. Baron Von Strucker Was the Original Leader
One of the things I love criticizing Avengers: Age of Ultron for is their portrayal of Baron Von Strucker. He was alive for not even half the film, and even while he was alive, he didn’t do much either- he was just a big pansy. This is a terrible injustice because in the comics, Strucker, as opposed to the Red Skull, was the original leader of HYDRA. Red Skull actually worked for Strucker. And anybody that can command somebody with a literal skull for a face deserves to be feared.
10. Ties with Hitler
As hinted in the first Captain America movie, HYDRA has its ties to Hitler and the Third Reich. They even organized a deal that made HYDRA the science division of Hitler’s army. Their collaboration led to many victories for Nazi Germany, as well as the assassination of many German leaders that Hitler wasn’t too fond of. Because of their ties, HYDRA got a lot of influence from Hitler’s rules and principles which they would later adapt to the modern age long after World War II was over. No wonder America decided to make a super-soldier to stop them in their tracks.
9. Long-Term Plans
The reason HYDRA is so terrifying, especially in the comics, is because they are some of the smartest villains in the Marvel Universe. When they know that they’re in a battle they can’t win, they make the good guys think that they’ve disbanded. Instead, they disappear from the grid and wait silently for the perfect opportunity to strike. They slowly increase their numbers, strength, and power all while seeking every advantage they can get. This skill of the organization was expertly showcased in Captain America: Winter Soldier where they infiltrated SHIELD and remained dormant for nearly seventy years.
8. The Greek Monster
The big belief behind HYDRA when they face their enemies is that if you cut off one head, two more shall take its place. This is a direct metaphor to some Greek mythology, specifically the creature known as a Hydra. The beast was a reptilian giant with multiple heads. However, if it loses one of its heads, it simply grows two more in place of it (if you’ve seen Hercules, you know what I mean). It’s a seemingly impossible creature to kill. Unfortunately, HYDRA seems to have the same strength with their sheer numbers alone.
7. They Made Their Own Avengers
Realizing that they would need a bit more firepower if they were going to take out Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, HYDRA decided to assemble their own Avengers. Dubbed the HYDRA Four, the team consisted of enhanced and evil versions of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Hawkeye. The scary part is that the HYDRA Four would’ve won if it weren’t for Spider-Man showing up in the nick of time, effectively outnumbering and out-powering them. After all, HYDRA hadn’t planned for an extra Avenger being added to the mix at the time. The Four haven’t made many appearances since then.
6. Baron Zemo Was Another Leader
Without delving into spoiler territory, I will say that Baron Zemo in Captain America: Civil War is almost nothing like his comic book counterpart. In the comics, he dons a purple suit and is a master at hand-to-hand combat, especially with a sword. On top of that, Zemo is already well-known for being the leader of HYDRA in the modern age. Powerful, terrifying, and intelligent, Baron Zemo remains one of Captain America’s greatest foes, even if it looks like he’s wearing a big sock on his face. I personally like the costume.
5. They Were the Reason SHIELD Was Created
Just as the existence of superheroes creates super-villains, the existence of super-villains also creates superheroes. As World War II erupted into chaos due to the mystical influence of HYDRA, the United States knew they had to do something to prepare and fight them when they returned. As such, they created the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division. Their job was not only to stop HYDRA but to protect the entire world. Since then SHIELD has worked with many Marvel heroes, helping to prepare them for war as well as helping to support the Avengers.
4. Crashing a Fantastic Wedding
Successful relationships rarely happen in comics, and that’s mostly because the responsibilities of being a superhero just don’t allow for it most of the time. One of the exceptions to this was in Marvel’s First Family: the Fantastic Four. Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) and Sue Storm (Invisible Woman) were finally getting ready to tie the knot and move forward to the next phase of their lives. However, like any good superhero wedding, it was crashed and brought to a screeching halt when HYDRA showed up to be rid of them forever. Luckily for the happy couple, they ended up getting married in the end.
3. They’ve Operated for Thousands of Years
While their most notable appearance came during World War II, HYDRA has been active for much longer than that. It actually dates to prehistoric times (in the Marvel Universe, that is). Some extraterrestrial and immortal reptoids came to Earth seeking to control it for their own gain. To do this, they began corrupting a society full of intellectual geniuses, which then spread to all corners of the world, slowly amassing followers for generations to come. It was believed that they were all snuffed out during the French Revolution, but as we know, that simply was not the case.
2. They Resurrected and Brainwashed Wolverine
HYDRA is smart. Period. One of their most brilliant plans to taking down the Avengers came during Wolverine: Enemy of the State. Collaborating with The Hand, HYDRA led Wolverine down to fight an army of ninjas, and then killed him where he stood. Now, because he’s Wolverine, death doesn’t mean much. Eventually SHIELD and Elektra find his body and bring him aboard their ship. However, when he awakes, he kills the staff around him and escapes the aircraft, having been horribly brainwashed by HYDRA.
1. Death Oath Loyalty
This is easily the most horrible thing about HYDRA, but it comes as no surprise. Anybody who wishes to join the organization doesn’t necessarily need a particular set of skills, rather they need to be willing to die for the cause, and that goes a long way. They pledge an oath to HYDRA, and if that oath is broken, it is punishable by death. That way, no traitors will ever be in HYDRA’s midst, and those that are will be instantly taken care of. Besides, if they kill one of their own, two more will take his place, right?