Captain America has always been a paramount symbol of truth and justice within the Marvel Universe, as the ultimate good guy. With a name like Captain America and a costume that is, essentially, a giant American flag, he was supposed to represent the best America had to offer. I mean, the character was launched in 1941, bearing an image on the cover of Cap literally punching Hitler. There are few things you can do with a character that'll say, "THIS CHARACTER IS A 100% GOOD GUY!" quite as clearly as draping him in your nation's flag during a time of war and depicting him punching one of the most evil people who ever walked the face of this Earth.
Turns out all of that was, essentially, a load of crap. Why, you may ask? Because Captain America is actually, and has been all along, an extremely talented and loyal Hydra plant. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Marvel's own Nick Spencer and Tom Brevoort dropped the bomb on all Cap fans that Steve was recruited as a young man, and had been working for Hydra from day one.
And before you can start shouting out explanations to explain away this situation (like clones, an evil twin, or mind control), they went ahead and nipped that one right in the bud. Here's a direct quote from Spencer in the interview:
This is not a clone, not an imposter, not mind control, not someone else acting through Steve. This really is Steve Rogers, Captain America himself.
So, essentially, everything is terrible if you're a Cap fan. He's always been evil, and he's always been a double agent. It's like finding out Santa wasn't real, but amplified by a million. So why did they do it? How long was this evil plan in the works? According to Spencer, it's been a long time coming.
Rick Remender, who was the previous writer on Captain America, had been building towards this story of Hydra having infiltrated various institutions of government and various super teams. I thought that sounded like too big of a story. I drilled it down and thought, what if there’s just one very valuable Hydra plant? What if they’re looking for 100 people, but there’s just one? So I started asking, who’s the worst person it could possibly be? It was really obvious straight away that there’s nobody who could do more damage and nobody that could be a more valuable Hydra plant than Steve Rogers. That was really the genesis. It sprang pretty organically from story ideas that were already on the table.
What does this mean for the Marvel comics universe? It's unclear, but it's gonna be huge. We do still have a good Captain America in the comics 'verse in Sam Wilson, and as far as we know Sam hasn't also been a baddie all along. While the new Steve Rogers: Captain America will engage in a bit of dramatic irony, what with the audience knowing Cap's true allegiance before people like Sam do, ultimately the truth will come out and Sam will have to do some serious reevaluating of his life and role as the present Captain America.
As far as the MCU goes, we don't necessarily have to worry about seeing Cap play for Team Hydra. Brevoort told EW that, "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. By definition, we operate at a different pace." So hopefully we will at least have one version Captain America we can believe in... for the time being.
What do you think about the comics turning Cap into a longstanding Hydra plant? Do you think they're ruining the character, or making him more dynamic and interesting? What do you hope will come with this new story arc? Let's talk about it (and maybe have a Captain America therapy session) in the comments!