Captain America has long been the shining beacon of all that is right in the Marvel universe. Usually, the way someone in the Marvel universe knows whether or not they’re on the right side is by asking themselves a single, simple question, “Am I fighting on Cap’s side?” Unless their last name happens to be Stark, that is. But with the recent Secret Empire event, Captain America, or a version of him, at least, was revealed to be a Hydra agent. That’s right, Captain America himself, a Hydra Agent.
The one person who was always there when the heroes of the Marvel Universe need someone to look to when things began to look hopeless. From the moral backbone of the Avengers to the greatest foe of every one of the Avengers in one fell swoop. After reading those crucial pages fans were simply left wondering, “what happened, Cap?”
That’s right. Ever since Captain America uttered those infamous words at the end of "Captain America: Steve Rogers No.1" back in 2016, we haven’t been able to look Cap. Sure, there were extenuating circumstances (which we’ll get to), but now that we’ve seen what someone like Cap could do for Hydra, it’s hard to unsee it. The heroes of Marvel all knew that Cap was the best of them, they just didn’t know how incredibly outclassed they were by the scale of his treachery. Captain America has so much influence in the superhero community, so much pull, that anything he does ripples through generations of heroes. Now, what might happen when a man like that gives himself over to Hydra before becoming the de facto leader of the country?
That’s kind of a big question. The short version is, that Kobik used her reality-warping powers to not only restore an old Steve Rogers back to his youth but also alter his past so that he would a Hydra double agent. Kobik does all this to please the Red Skull, who she believes to be her father. And let’s face it, as a nazi, Red Skull has done much worse than take advantage of a little girl’s reality-warping abilities.
The only thing Red Skull couldn't predict, however, is that Hydra Steve, or Stevil as he has been called, would find his vision of Hydra to narrow and nazi-esque, so Stevil kills him. Just like the rest of the world, Hydra is no place for nazis.
Well, Kobik is actually more of a what, than a who. And more a collection of whats rather than a singular...what. Kobik is the result SHIELD’s attempt at creating a new Cosmic Cube from fragments of previous Cosmic Cube. This Cosmic Cube, as Cosmic Cubes tend to do, eventually gained sentience and began asking questions. Questions like, “Who am I?” “Who are you?” “Why am I locked up in a secret government black site?” “Has anyone seen papa Red Skull?” She’s a collection of Cosmic Cubes trying to piece together an existence from fragmented memories. The only clear memory she has is of Red Skull (Presumably from one of the times he’s had a Cosmic Cube), so naturally, she heads straight for the only face she knows. Regardless of how tough to look at that face is.
Well, as one might imagine, when one of the most trusted heroes on the Avengers announces his allegiance to hydra, that’s going to burn some serious bridges. Mainly just literally everyone Cap’s ever called a friend, teammate or partner. Once again, we find Cap and Tony at odds, much like in Civil War, but beyond Stark, Cap has managed to piss off just about everyone from Captain Marvel to Spider-Man. On the flip side, however, we’ve got people like the newly spider-powered Doc Ock, moral gray area and Cap’s biggest fanboy, Frank Castle, and even Deadpool finds himself aligned with his hero, Steve Rogers. For a time. But perhaps the most surprising among Cap’s followers is the god of thunder himself, Thor.
Well, yes and no. While the Civil War 2 event did happen just a short while ago many fans were left wanting after its conclusion. Even when you disregard the fact that Captain Marvel’s character seemingly changing out of nowhere into someone willing to take a random mutants word and the shared visions induced by his abilities as an absolute as far as the future is concerned, there was still plenty to be upset about when it can to the very much hyped up event.
The events of Secret Empire sprout up right after the conclusion of Civil War 2 and actively works to build on the issues highlighted by Civil War 2 while painting Cap as the driving force being most of, if not all of the tension in the superhero community.
Saying that Thor is one of Stevil’s followers is only mostly true, as he tends to do, Thor has lost the ability to wield his hammer. Fortunately for Cap, when Thor has lost sight of himself and his ability to wield the hammer he kind of just defaults to Mjolnir. In this case, Hydra agent or not, Captain America (or possibly Captain Hydra by now) has the hammer on his side. Not only does Captain Hydra use it to devastating effect, he then leaves Mjolnir out in the open. A statement to anyone even considering defying Hydra. Not only a powerful statement but a reminder that not only is Cap able to wield the hammer, but he’s also worthy of wielding it.
While most of the heroes are either stuck between a global shield and a Chitauri army or landlocked, fighting to overthrow Captain Hydra, Scarlett Witch and Vision seem to be dealing with some of their own issues. Both of the troubled heroes seem to be losing battles for their minds, bodies, and souls.
While Wanda fights a losing battle against the demonic elder god Chtyon, Vision is also fighting against a virus specifically designed to keep him trapped in his own mind. Definitely not a great time for two of the Avenger’s most powerful members to be corrupted and fighting for an even more corrupted version of their iconic leader.
While fans of the MCU films may not know this, comics fans have long been aware that it was, in fact, Hank Pym who created Ultron in the Marvel comics. Saying that Hank Pym and Ultron have a confusing and complicated relationship would be like saying Disney is a little entertainment company. During one of Ultron more recent tantrums aimed at Earth, Hank Pym, along with Vision and many of the other Avengers decided that it was time to turn Ultron off. After debating whether or not turning Ultron off would be considered murder, it is decided that Vision will phase into Ultron, fusing with and disabling him. As one might expect, things didn’t exactly go according to plan and, while fused, Ultron uses Vision’s phasing ability to phase into and fuse with Hank Pym. The newly formed Pymtron then flies up into space. Why? Because comics.
The vanishing point actually serves a couple of purposes throughout the course of the Secret Empire event and the events immediately following. Throughout the course of Secret Empire, we see Steve Rogers, the original, Hydra-fighting Captain America fighting to survive the vanishing point. This Steve Rogers is a memory Kobik has of Steve, a memory given form in a pocket dimension created by Kobik.
Not only do we see Steve Rogers escape the Vanishing Point, but we also see many new heroes, like Miles Morales and Jane Foster, given the opportunity to meet their predecessors in a pocket dimension where time has no meaning. A gift Kobik gives the heroes involved in the battle in order to help them usher in a new age of heroes.
Well, the short answer is both. It looks like Hydra Cap is not only here to stay, but still has loyal followers willing to take up arms whenever the supreme leader may need them. After a thorough beating by a Captain America who is truly worthy of the name, and Thor’s hammer, Hydra Cap is locked up, and the key is thrown away. Steve can’t help but visit the man who had utterly destroyed his reputation among his peers and colleagues. He may be locked up for now, but it appears as though Captain America may have made a very powerful enemy of himself. An enemy that seems unlikely to just go away quietly.