"Hail, Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place! We serve none but the Master—as the world shall soon serve us! Hail HYDRA!"
—The Hydra Oath from Strange Tales #135 (Aug. 1965)
No, they're not doing the YMCA.
Hydra is a fictional terrorist organization in the Marvel Universe
. It first appeared in'Strange Tales #135
(August 1965), created by Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby
. It served as the rival organization to S.H.I.E.L.D.
. The name is not an acronym but rather a reference to the mythical Lernaean Hydra
. The organization's motto references the myth of the Hydra, stating that "if a head is cut off, two more will take its place" proclaiming their resilience and growing strength in the face of resistance. HYDRA agents often wear distinctive green garb featuring a serpent motif.
Hydra is a criminal organization dedicated to the achievement of world domination through terrorist and subversive activities on various fronts, resulting in a fascist New World Order. Its extent of operations is worldwide, always attempting to elude the ongoing counter-espionage operations by S.H.I.E.L.D. Hydra is funded by Baron Strucker's personal fortune, based on his recovered hoard of Nazi plunder from World War II, and funds established by the original leaders of the Japanese secret society that became Hydra.
The organization is usually run with behind-the-scenes direction by Baron Strucker, alias Supreme Hydra. Under him is a central ruling committee; under them are individual division chiefs, and under them are the rank and file members and special agents.
In order to become a member of Hydra, an individual must be a legal adult willing to submit to a thorough investigation of the applicant's personal background and to swear a death-oath of loyalty to Hydra and its principles.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe
, HYDRA was originally a top-secret Nazi weapons research unit led by the Red Skull
, but quickly split away from the Third Reich altogether. It was thought to have been destroyed by the end of World War II, but ended up as a covert faction within SHIELD, due to an ill-advised policy of recruiting former HYDRA personnel for their engineering knowledge
This Marvel Comics faction provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Baron Strucker's reaction to discovering Andreas Strucker had been killed by Norman Osborn when asking for a favor? "Okay, that's two favors I owe you."
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Hydra started off as an actual Nazi organisation during World War II which became independent when the actual Nazis, well, lost. When your founders are Nazis it's no stretch that your organisation end up Nazi-like. (As revealed in Captain America: Hail Hydra and Secret Warriors, Hydra actually let the Nazis think that, but are actually older. Still, they saw the Nazis as having compatible goals, and still have evidence of that connection.)
- Ancient Conspiracy: Revealed to be this in Secret Warriors.
- Obtaining the Serpent Crown, an artifact of the Elder God Set, has been one of its goals.
- Arch-Enemy: Baron Strucker is this to Nick Fury.
- Bad Boss: Baron Strucker once blew up a base with 15,000 personnel in it.
- Bald of Evil: Baron Strucker.
- Badass Army: Despite all the superheroes being thrown at them they still managed to have survived as an organization for over sixty years.
- The Baroness: Viper, the Madame Hydras.
- Came Back Wrong: Viper. She got better.
- Collapsing Lair: Seems to happen to any place Baron Strucker stays too long.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Literally, with the (temporary) Corporate Hydra branch.
- Hydra is revealed to have still been involved in this with two major megacorporations under its control.
- The Dragon: Gorgon
- Baron Strucker was this to the Red Skull. It's debatable who created it in comic book continuity as a result.
- Elaborate Underground Base: A Hydra mainstay.
- Elite Mooks: Advanced Idea Mechanics started as the Elite Mooks of Hydra, being its super-science division. HYDRA itself developed robotic soldiers called Dreadnoughts for this purpose, and in some continuities Hydra iself started out as or becomes the Elite Mook organization working for the Red Skull.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Japanese Ninja, German Nazis, Arab terrorists, and more.
- Enemy Civil War: A frequent problem. Hydra are notorious for schisms and violent internal power struggles, but being devoted to the Fuhrer-principle and having no real ideology beyond "Take Over the World"note will do that.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Strucker has done some genuinely appalling stuff but has surprisingly done a few Pet the Dog moments as well.
- Madame Viper is the opposite. She's so scary she terrified the Red Skull.
- Evil Counterpart: to SHIELD.
- Eviler Than Thou: The Kingpin once went against Hydra. For once, it didn't go his way.
- Faceless Goons: Its members all wear identical green masked outfits. The motto of the group is "Cut off a limb and two more will take its place", referencing the monster that is their namesake and lampshading the fact that these guys aren't individuals.
- Ghostapo / Stupid Jetpack Hitler: A weird example as modern Hydra has all of this but is not a Nazi successor organization, having originated as an ancient Egyptian cult called the Brotherhood of the Spear.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Baron Strucker's dueling scars are definitely evil.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: Hydra's war against the Howling Commando's PMC and Leviathan.
- Hydra Problem: Hydra has this as its motto but, seriously, no one has yet caused the organization to grow weaker despite 60 years of fighting it.
- Highly Conspicuous Uniform: HYDRA soldiers typically wear a bright green/yellow ensemble, sometimes with the organization's logo as a chest patch.
- The Infiltration: It's revealed that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD shortly after the latter had been formed... and then Nick Fury reveals that he'd known that all along and reverse-infiltrated HYDRA, letting them think they were manipulating SHIELD from the shadows when it was actually the other way around.
- Legion of Doom: Not really but a surprising number of Marvel villains have either worked for or with HYDRA over the years: Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo, the Kingpin, Richard Fisk, Madame Hydra, the Serpent Society, Crossbones, the Red Skull, Deadpool, Gorgon, a brainwashed Wolverine, the Hand, AIM, Richard Nixon (!!) through the Secret Empire, Don Fortunato, The Thunderbolts (without the majority of members knowing), Norman Osborn, and so on. Spider-Woman also started out as a HYDRA agent, until she was set straight by Nick Fury.
- Mêlée à Trois: Leviathan vs. Shield vs. Hydra in the Secret Warriors comic.
- Mythical Motifs: Named after the Hydra from Greek mythology, a many headed creature, where if you cut off one head, two more grow in its place.
- Nazi Gold: How the original Hydra was funded.
- Nazi Nobleman: Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo
- Nebulous Evil Organization: One of the oldest and most successful.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Baron Strucker is clearly based on Otto Skorzeny, right down to the prominent dueling scars.
- Nuke 'em: The Overkill Horn is designed to do this on a large scale.
- Religion of Evil: Has elements of this with the retcon.
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: The only way to explain how the organization affords its many, many bases.
- Secret Warriors retconned this into having two of the largest conglomerates in the world working for them. Their accumulated assets is said to be around six hundred billion dollars.
- Strucker has alien technology so this is less questionable than it sounds.
- Punch Clock Villain: It's implied the majority of Hydra agents are this.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: Several other major Marvel Universe evil organisations began as sub-divisions or splinter-groups of Hydra, notably including AIM, the Hand, and the Secret Empire.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Modern Hydra has been known to employ class-warfare rhetoric.
- Which actually fits with their Nazi roots.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The organization's history as a mutual aid society for fugitive Nazis that evolved into an international terrorist group bears a distinct resemblance to the ODESSA and Otto Skorzeny's Paladin Group.
- Running Both Sides: Turns out that Hydra secretly owned S.H.I.E.L.D. Then it turned out that Nick Fury knew this all along and was using it to manipulate Hydra.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Nick Fury has a Reverse Hannibal Lecture with Baron Strucker at the end of Secret Warriors where he reveals Baron Strucker never controlled SHIELD—Nick Fury had known all along about his bugs and used it to feed him false information.
- Smug Snake: Andreas Strucker has always been considered to be whipping boy of Hydra. He eventually stopped being smug when he became the Swordsman. Then he became the Butt Monkey.
- The Starscream: Gorgon
- The Syndicate: HYDRA is heavily involved in organized crime.
- Indeed, it is a full-blown Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy appropriately enough. All a crook needs is Hydra or Maggia ties to justify crazy-tech.
- Take Over the World: As if anything less could satisfy them!
- Terrorists Without a Cause
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Hydra calls one of its superweapons The Overkill Horn. Its function? Remotely activating every single nuclear weapon on the surface of the planet the whole world over.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Their original incarnation. The modern organization has no racial agenda, accepting members from all nationalities. One snarky but likely explanation is: "You can't sell toys of Nazis."
- We Have Reserves: And HOW! Hydra has lost literally tens of thousands of personnel on-screen over the course of its existence.
- Western Terrorists
- What Measure Is a Mook?: A question never asked by superheroes as even die-hards capes like Captain America have no problem killing Hydra goons.
- Subverted by Deadpool's sidekick Bob.
- Villain Team-Up: Surprisingly rare until recently. Most Hydra villains were members of Hydra or one of its break-away branches. Norman Osborn is one of the few to reach out to Hydra.
- You Have Failed Me: The penalty for failure in Hydra is death. In fact, in the organization's years of being divided and fractured without Baron Von Strucker, the various Hydra factions were spending more time killing themselves after their schemes were thwarted than accomplishing anything.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Again, they started out as a Nazi science division so the similarities are abundant. The modern version has dropped the racial purity angle though.
- This is given a big fat Lampshade Hanging in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Skye calls Ward a Nazi. Though he denies it.
- Arc Welding: Senator Stern from Iron Man 2, Agent Sitwell, and the Clairvoyant in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are all Hydra agents.
- Genius Bruiser: Garrett. He looks like Bill Paxton and acts like a frat boy but manages an ultra-secret scientific conspiracy for Hydra.
- Government Conspiracy: One in the Nazi government's at the start. Then one in America.
- Ghostapo/Stupid Jetpack Hitler: They were the Nazi science division before going rogue.
- Elite Mooks: Deathlok (until being freed from Hydra's control in "Beginning of the End"), Agent Ward, Crossbones, The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes, through being brainwashed).
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: The modern version has women and people from all races as members, which is kind of funny seeing as how the Nazis were its roots.
- The Evils of Free Will: Modern Hydra's thing.
- Eviler Than Thou: To the Nazis.
- Evil Is Petty: In addition to all the atrocities mentioned on this page, HYDRA has also... leaked The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer.
- For Science!: Armin Zola's motivation even after his "retirement" in America.
- Raina and other Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. villains have this motivation. Notable because, at least Raina, finds the idea of working for Hydra otherwise discomforting.
- Hiding In Plain Sight: In SHIELD.
- The Infiltration: It's revealed that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD shortly after the latter had been formed.
- Kill 'em All: Hydra's plan for world domination through SHIELD requires 20,000,000 deaths.
- Not Quite Dead: Armin Zola is alive at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. This was a massive mistake.
- Old Shame: In-Universe example. The group's Nazi past and variant on the Sieg Heil salute becomes this in modern days according to Garrett and Ward.
- The Man Behind the Man: To Centipede.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: The movieverse Hydra are a splinter-group of the Third Reich who outlived their predecessors.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Hydra's infiltration of SHIELD is specifically said to have begun with Operation Paperclip.
- Strange Salute: They stick both arms, with clenched fists, in the air and scream "Hail HYDRA!" It looks a lot like the Nazi salute. The salute is mocked in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Garrett says it makes the person doing it look like "West Texas cheerleader at a Pep Rally".
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The movieverse Hydra grew out of a top-secret Third Reich weapons-research unit.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: How the modern faction portrays itself. Given that their master plan involves killing anyone who is a threat to them, this is likely BS.
- Alexander Pierce is. His rationale, however, is batshit insane.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Baron Strucker considers the SHIELD infiltration to be this in The Stinger.