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Characters / MCU: HYDRA

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Main Character Index > Villainous Organizations > HYDRA > Leadership | (Grant Ward) | Operatives | (The Centipede Group)

Spoilers for all works set prior to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are unmarked.


Appearances: Captain America: The First Avenger | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Avengers: Endgame


"Cut off one head, two more shall take its place! Hail HYDRA!"

HYDRA is a subversive-criminal-paramilitary organization bent on world domination. Originally the Nazi Science Devision, its main purpose was to create advanced Tesseract-powered weaponry for the German armies, but over the years, members of HYDRA became loyal only to their leader, Johann Schmidt. At the beginning of World War II, HYDRA still fought for the Nazi cause, but Schmidt later separated HYDRA from Nazi Germany to start his own conquest of the world. Fascism and conquest of freedom is still their core philosophy.

  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: They got three of them, the Insight Helicarriers, armed with some really powerful and accurate long-range gun batteries.
  • As Long as There is One Man:
    • "Cut off one head, two more shall take its place." As shown in The Winter Soldier this is a true statement. As the last remainder of HYDRA, Zola managed to reconstruct the organization from within S.H.I.E.L.D. in a far more subversive manner than the overt methods of Red Skull.
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    • The end of season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sees Grant Ward gathering the remnants that survived the Avengers' assault on Strucker around him as the new leader.
    • Even after Ward is killed, HYDRA always finds a way back somehow. General Hale, a low-ranking HYDRA mole (all things considered), slips through the cracks and causes trouble for our heroes as the villain of Agents of SHIELD's fifth season.
  • Back from the Brink: They certainly come by their Badass Creed catchphrase honestly.
    • After the SSR and the Howling Commandos all but destroyed HYDRA in the 1940s, Zola did this to the organization, rebuilding it within the nascent S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • After the events of Winter Soldier thwart Project Insight, this happens again, with Daniel Whitehall and Sunil Bakshi taking over and fighting back in partnership with Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Dr. List and the rest of the HYDRA Council.
    • HYDRA is again smashed once Whitehall, Bakshi, von Strucker, and List are killed and the Council is decimated, but Grant Ward gathers the remnants of the organization under his control, and is later Demoted to Dragon once Gideon Malick and his inner circle reemerges. Hive later adds to their Inhuman strength even as it twists HYDRA to its will.
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    • Even after Ward, Malick and Hive are killed, and Malick's information causes most of HYDRA's remaining assets to be seized and destroyed, General Hale manages to evade detection and takes over HYDRA's old academy as a base.
    • There's also the Framework arc of Agents of SHIELD to take into consideration. Even when HYDRA is (almost) completely demolished in the main universe, they always find a way back, even if it's through an entire alternate reality.
    • Finally averted after the deletion of the Framework and Coulson's team takes down the HYDRA academy base, and Talbot/Graviton kills Hale herself ... although the fate or whereabouts of Hale's aide Candice Lee are unrevealed. There's still Mitchell Carson from Ant-Man out there somewhere, as well as STRIKE agent Jack Rollins, and the Red Skull himself on Vormir. However, Candice Lee and Jack Rollins have likely been arrested, and the Red Skull is docile and powerless to act on his own, meaning that only Mitchell Carson could possibly pose a threat.
  • Badass Creed: "Cut off one head, two more shall take its place! Hail HYDRA!"
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Zola's algorithm combined with S.H.I.E.L.D. surveillance technology and infrastructure means they have everything on everyone. Sitwell spells it out for Cap and Widow; "Your education, voting records, damn SAT scores ..."
  • Cool Plane: Two: The Valkyrie bomber, a flying wing aircraft based off the Horten H.XVIII prototype, and the Red Skull's personal helicopter, based off of the Triebflügeljäger.
  • Determinator: Like the mythological Hydra, the Red Skull's troopers will only keep coming after every seemingly fatal blow, more dangerous than before.
  • Elite Mooks: The massive HYDRA troopers who wield dual cannons and flamethrowers during World War II. In Sokovia they fielded troopers with Chitauri-derived armor and jetpacks.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Averted in WWII, where the members appear to be primarily German just like the Nazis, though they never actually claim to be racial supremacists. Played straight otherwise however, as the 21st century version has multiple offshoots worldwide, and includes dedicated members of different races and genders (including Inhumans) determined to bring a New World Order. This makes a lot more sense with the Agents of SHIELD reveal that HYDRA as an organization is much older than the Nazis, and was merely using them for its own ends.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Their core philosophy and why they justify a fascist form of government. However, they sorely pay for it during World War II, and thus decide to become subtle about it and trick citizens in voting away their own freedom for security.
    Zola: HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Standard issue blaster.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: It's unknown why they dress with gas masks.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
  • Killed Off for Real: By the end of season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the group as a whole is finished. Talbot has used intel gleaned from Gideon Malick to wipe all their bases off the map without much fanfare, and S.H.I.E.L.D. killed Hive. The remnant group led by Brigadier General Hale is ended, with Hale's daughter Ruby being killed by Yo-Yo and Hale herself then suffering a Karmic Death at the hands (or powers) of Talbot/Graviton. However, Mitchell Carson is still somewhere out there with shrinking particles.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Not much in their first appearance. Definitely in their second. They become an absolute No-Nonsense Nemesis, that pull out all the stops to kill Captain America and enact a monstrous plan, one that comes closer to succeeding than just about any other villainous plan in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Knight Templar: For all their talk of peace and saving lives, their list of targets includes Tony Stark and President Ellis. It's not so much "people who are threats to the world" as "people who will challenge HYDRA's status quo".
  • A Million Is a Statistic: They view 20 million people targeted by Zola's algorithm as a small price to pay to unite the world under their banner.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Villains, but still it's different from their green outfit from the comics.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: HYDRA is a weapon R&D place in a frigid mountain area that wants to take over the world.
  • Never Live It Down: At least a couple of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes demonstrate their having a Nazi (albeit one not loyal to the cause) as their leader is this for them In-Universe, with operatives being known to complain whenever someone calls them or compares them to Nazis. Even the fact that they've been operating for thousands of years isn't any help to them.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Becomes this by the time of the modern day. They don't employ the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and instead send everything they've got at you from the very beginning. They aren't keen on Evil Gloating unless they're stalling for time. They also don't explain what their exact plans are, only general goals and beliefs (which just might convert you to their side). This is Lampshaded by Zola, who says that World War II taught them how to be smart.
  • Not So Different: From S.H.I.E.L.D., with Pierce pointing out that their enemies are HYDRA's enemies. with both wanting to protect the world, hydra just going a bit farther, and especially what with SHIELD being a totalitarian behemoth that needs to be brought into the public eye: regardless of what else you can say about SHIELD, at the end of the day, it amounts to Nick Fury running an all-in-one private armed forces, espionage agency, and business that answers solely to him. We've seen them break into people's houses, businesses, and countries, and cart off various pieces of property, make warrantless arrests, and generally blow shit up, simply because they can. They seem to have jurisdiction over the entire world, even though pretty much every country in the world, the US included, are set up with governments and laws that specifically forbid an organization like SHIELD from having ANY jurisdiction on their soil. In the end, Fury does run SHIELD for the good of the world, and generally only steps in when nothing else works, but that's more Fury's own benevolence than any oversight or organizational responsibility. The fact that the entire US, and possibly the entire world, is under a 1 man defacto dictatorship, even if that one man is currently benevolent, should spook people about as much as alien invasion. Keep in mind that this happens around the time that Captain America: The Winter Soldier happens, as proof of the problem with SHIELD's secrecy HYDRA has infiltrated SHIELD, they almost get away with it because a) SHIELD is subject to oversight by no one, and b) SHIELD is basically everything HYDRA wishes it could be, by HYDRA's own admission.
  • Overarching Villain: For the MCU on the global scale. While there are much bigger threats out there in the universe, HYDRA is the most consistent enemy faced by heroes throughout movies and shows.
  • Playing Both Sides: Winter Soldier, Agent Carter, and Civil War all provide hints that they were doing this during the Cold War, with agents infiltrating both SHIELD on the NATO side and Leviathan on the Warsaw Pact side.
  • Properly Paranoid: Each and every leader in HYDRA is fully prepared to kill the others if they betray the group, and is fully aware of that fact. Coulson takes advantage of this to essentially con all but one member of the HYDRA Council to kill each other in a single massive round of paranoid backstabbing. All it takes is a few comments by an imposter to one leader's flunky.
  • Putting on the Reich: Inverted, instead they take off the Reich and become their fascistic faction, though retaining some Nazi traits. Later they lose the "racial supremacist" bit when Armin Zola reforms them. They're plain neo-fascists now.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: They split off from the Nazis, and they themselves have quite a few. Agents of SHIELD reveals that they are way older than the Nazis are, but that they used the Nazis for their own ends during WWII. HYDRA's end goal (conquer the world) is the same across all branches, but the means of doing so vary depending on the branch, with Malick's desiring to bring Hive back to Earth instead of mass assasination like Zola's does.
  • State Sec: Started off as this, growing from a research division to a high-tech army. Then the Red Skull goes rogue, and becomes a splinter faction. It gets zig-zagged when they infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: They were originally formed as the Nazi science division, and were led by the Red Skull, a man with a fascination with mythological artifacts. That man eventually discovered the Tesseract, and with it created the most technologically advanced army on Earth yet.
  • Take Over the World: Their mission statement. Past and present incarnations both.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: When they go after Fury, their foot-soldiers don't skimp on the dakka, and they send along their best soldier to finish the job.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Used to be, but they broke away. They highly resent being called Nazis, especially in the modern era, when their enemies refer to them as that. Also, as is revealed in the third Season, their roots are far older than the Nazis.
  • Took a Level in Badass: When HYDRA reformed under Zola, they got smart.
  • Villain Decay: After the failure of Project Insight, the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the outing of HYDRA, things go downhill for them. As we see in Age of Ultron, the Avengers have been systematically destroying their organization, ending in the death of their current leader, Baron von Strucker. Afterwards, as we see in Ant-Man, Civil War and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they are reduced to a paramilitary subversive organization with little chance of regaining their former power or glory, and by the end of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, the group is all but destroyed, except Mitchell Carson, who escaped with Cross's Pym Particles in Ant Man.
  • Villainous Legacy: The whole organization is one, in a sense: Red Skull may most likely be long gone, but the organization is still very much alive and continuing to cause trouble, until S.H.I.E.L.D. (partnering with Gideon Malick and later Graviton) deals enough damage that it appears to finally be fatal, though Mitchell Carson is still out there.
  • Villainous Virtues: If nothing else, HYDRA members are immensely loyal and show bravery and self-sacrifice even in the face of death. The only three who defy this are Zola, Sitwell and Baron von Strucker and Zola still upheld HYDRA's goals until his death, and even sacrificed his now-immortal computer life to try and kill HYDRA's sole remaining threat, and von Strucker wanted to get captured intentionally to distract the Avengers so his second-in-command Dr. List can escape with their research. Even the higher-ups, like Red Skull and Pierce, have Pet the Dog moments to their subordinates.
  • We Are Everywhere: They have deeply infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., to the point that there's no way of knowing who's loyal and who isn't until guns start shooting.
  • We Have Reserves: Lampshaded by their very motto; "cut off one head and two more will take its place!"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Post-Red Skull their new leadership seems to sincerely believe they are bringing law and order to a chaotic world and that HYDRA's work is for the good of mankind .

Alternative Title(s): Agents Of SHIELDHYDRA


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