SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “What If…”, the latest episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Make no mistake: on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, Hydra is just a bunch of Nazis. In “What If…”, the latest episode, the show dove headfirst into the debate surrounding Hydra and its connection to Nazism and made it very clear that Hydra is Nazism by another name.
In the episode, Jemma Simmons — one of our protagonists — came across a student who tagged a car she hijacked from two Hydra goons. She caught him in the act of spray painting “Hydra Lies” onto the side of the car, rendering it useless to her, and confronted him about it. The two exchanged some heated words before coming to a mutual understanding about Hydra and what it stands for. “For the record? Hydra, they’re all Nazis,” she told him before she left campus, which makes it abundantly clear where “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stands in the ongoing debate.
— Agents of SHIELD (@AgentsofSHIELD) April 5, 2017
This isn’t the first time that “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” drew that connection. When Daisy found out that Ward was a Hydra mole in Season 1, she also didn’t mince her words about the organization: “It’s in the S.H.I.E.L.D. handbook, chapter one: The Red Skull, founder of Hydra, was a big fat friggin’ Nazi!”
Of course, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hydra was founded long before World War II and was based on the worship of the ancient Inhuman Hive. However, the episode took care to address this issue. During his lesson, schoolteacher Mr. Coulson dismissed the idea that Hydra are Nazis by citing the organization’s age. He also labeled the connection “propaganda” used to besmirch what Hydra stands for. Nevertheless, Hydra did aid the Nazis in WWII by acting as their science division, per “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which means they share the same ideals. Coulson’s argument certainly didn’t do much to persuade the young student who confronted Simmons in the clip above.
Additionally, the show’s version of Hydra was rife with Nazi-like propaganda that promoted the state over the individual. In the Framework, citizens are required to have identification on them at all times, lest they face dire consequences. Likewise, Inhumans are treated as automatic suspects and are identified as such. The different settings were also lined with propaganda posters bearing slogans like “Where Hydra thrives, you thrive” and “Vigilance against Inhumans.” As such, the connection is made very clear throughout the episode.
Returning Tuesday, April 4 at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and more.