WARNING COMIC BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD!
‘I believe in an idea, an idea that a single individual who has the right heart and the right mind that is consumed with a single purpose, that one man can win a war. Give that one man a group of soldiers with the same conviction, and you can change the world.’
‘This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — No, you move.’
Truth, justice and the American way. Captain America is as American a superhero as they come and indeed a matter of pride for all comic fans who are inspired by the character’s unswerving commitment to morality and high idealism. Unfortunately, the entire legacy of Marvel’s best-loved characters is dumped into a trashbin with the release of Captain America: Steve Rogers 001 (written by Nick Spencer, art by Jesus Saiz), where in a soul-crushing twist, Cap is revealed to be a Hydra agent all along. The internet responded with a collective shitstorm, with many fans expressing disbelief as how such a thing could even remotely be possible and some wondering whether this would be a permanent feature or not.
Marvel Is Cashing On The Donald Trump Hysteria
Ever since Donald Trump announced his presidential run back in June 2015, his candidacy has been treated with contempt and derision by liberal pundits. A motor mouth with a tendency to make the most abrasive remarks, Trump has been unapologetic and brash on his views against women, Hispanics, Muslims, immigrants or any other person who would make a sane criticism of his staggeringly ignorant buffoonery. But guess what, Trump in all likelihood is now the Republican presidential candidate, with a huge part of the American populace cheering his openly xenophobic and racist ideas. Then again, his candidacy and controversial remarks are excellent media fodder, with debates after debates, op-eds after op-eds discussing the possibility of a paradigm shift in the world if Trump indeed becomes President in 2016.
Marvel has cleverly cashed on this opportunity by jumping on the Donald Trump bandwagon with the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers. Just in the first few pages, a hopeless, drug-addict is introduced to Red Skull who panders to the idea of ‘getting the country back’, rails against ‘political correctness’ and talks about launching a unified resistance against all things that are corroding the nation from inside. Red Skull seems like a sanitized version of Donald Trump, mesmerizing the hopeless, the unemployed, the destitute and people who claim that the government doesn’t listen to them.
So how did Steve Rogers become a secret Hydra agent? The latest Captain America comic has recurring flashback sequences in which Steve is shown as a wretched poor-ass kid, with a seemingly helpless mother and an abusive father back in the 1920s. His mother is rescued from the clutches of his terrible father by a mysterious woman, who encourages Steve’s mom to attend a meeting of a ‘civic league’ that ‘looks for ways to help the community’ – the New York Chapter of The Hydra Society.
The Donald Trump angle is also referred in a TIME magazine interview with Marvel’s executive edit Tom Brevoort and Nick Spencer:
Q: In the comic the Red Skull of Hydra talks about “criminal trespassers” who “make a mockery” of America’s borders and calls the refugees in Germany an “invading army” bringing “fanatical beliefs and crime” to Europe. Obviously, this hate speech is nothing new for the organization, but it sounds like rhetoric we’ve been hearing this election. Is that purposeful?
A: We try to write comics in 2016 that are about the world and the zeitgeist of 2016, particularly in Captain America. Nick Spencer, the writer, is very politically active. He’s a Capitol Hill head and following this election very closely. So we can talk about political issues in a metaphoric way. That’s what gives our stories weight and meat to them. Any parallels you have seen to situations real or imagined, living or dead, is probably intentional but metaphorically not literally.
Q: What are we supposed to think about the fact that someone literally named Captain America now supports these beliefs?
A: Again, I don’t want to say anything too definitively because we’re laying out the story. But we want to push that button. There should be a feeling of horror or unsettledness at the idea that somebody like this can secretly be part of this organization. There are perfectly normal people in the world who you would interact with on a professional level or personal level, and they seem like the salt of the earth but then it turns out they have some horrible secret — whether it’s that they don’t like a certain group of people or have bodies buried in their basement.
You should feel uneasy about the fact that everything you know and love about Steve Rogers can be upended.
The devastating consequences of this shocking twist are revealed during a present-day operation against Baron Zemo and his cronies, when Captain America throws an unsuspecting sidekick off an airplane.
What This Means Ahead For Captain America
In another interview with The Daily Beast, Spencer says: ‘So we’ve established that Captain America is Hydra. That is a huge moment in the Marvel universe, regardless of when it came to be or how it came to be. What that means in terms of the doors that are open to Steve, what he can do, and what he chooses to do with that power is what remains to be seen. But the thing that I can say is it’s a huge story I really can’t believe that they’re letting me do.
This is something that is gonna have a profound effect on the Marvel universe. I’ve seen a lot of people say things like, “Oh, it’ll be wrapped up in the arc,” or “Give it six months.” And I can tell you, that’s not the case. This has real lasting repercussions that are gonna be with us for a while.’
Nick Spencer is adamant that the new twist is indeed Captain America himself, and not a ‘clone, an impostor, mind control, or someone else acting through Steve’. That is totally believable, but more often than not, the twist is meant to captivate fans into anticipating something more awesome in the future. Also, the fact that Spencer says this would go beyond six months or so, points to the fact that as long as Trump is in the running for the top seat, the hysteria will help Marvel drive up hype for its new comics even more. Will Cap indeed remain a Hydra agent which has Nazi roots, going everything against what its Jewish creators, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon had envisioned? Doesn’t seem likely!
Meanwhile, you can read a superb fan theory, which explains in an excellent manner why Captain America is actually an undercover Hydra operative. Hint: The Cosmic Cube plays a key role. The official description for the powers of the Cosmic Cube on Marvel.com is: ‘The power within the Cube allows whoever wields it to literally reshape reality around him. Virtually anything is possible, from the raising of mountains and commanding the power of the elements to opening dimensional portals and transforming your enemies.’