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    HYDRA In General 


HYDRA was established sometime during or before World War II by the Nazi regime in Germany as an elite corps of the SS specializing in development of unusual weapons and technologies. Under the auspices of Baron Heinrich Zemo, HYDRA's main wartime ambition was to develop a portal capable of contacting alternate dimensions, in actuality the Nine Realms on the World Tree Yggdrasil, and summoning the Nordic mythological creatures which lived in them for the purpose of enslaving them and turning them against the Allies. This operation, overseen by the Red Skull, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, and Arnim Zola, was thwarted thanks to the efforts of Captain America, Bucky, and the Howling Commandos, but Bucky paid with his life for trying to stop the Skull from escaping. By the start of the series, however, much has changed since then. HYDRA is now a stateless terrorist organization with international scope and aspirations of world conquest, led by Baron Strucker. Baron Zemo and Arnim Zola have long since struck out on their own and been imprisoned by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Raft and the Big House, respectively. The Red Skull, on the other hand, went into hiding and has not been seen or heard from in decades. Regardless, HYDRA at the series's start represents the greatest threat to the freedom of the world that the Avengers can tackle, and A.I.M.'s contract with them for the development of a Cosmic Cube capable of restructuring reality presents the frightening possibility of a HYDRA rule spanning the globe.

  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Subverted. They look very much like Nazis, but they don't really get anywhere close to acting like them, symbols, uniforms, and German accents aside. (The fact that The Avengers: EMH! is an adaptation that is intended to be viewed by children might have something to do with this.)
  • Commie Nazis: The thick Russian accent that the Black Widow puts on during her time as a double-agent gives a sort of Dirty Communists vibe to the otherwise Naziesque HYDRA organization while she's there.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The modern-day HYDRA agents are these, with the addition of armbands and jackboots.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Subverted. HYDRA isn't actually an acronym. It's just in all-caps.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The HYDRA Agents are horribly bad shots. They can't even hit Hawkeye and Mockingbird when the two are standing ten feet away from them and just talking.
  • Motive Decay: The HYDRA of the early 1940s was implicitly organized under the ideology of National Socialism and committed to supporting the Third Reich's ambitions during World War II, but the modern HYDRA is just happy to try for world domination, regardless of the means or the goals. The motive decay in this case is probably a good thing though.
  • Mythology Gag: The World War II HYDRA Agents use the HYDRA uniform from the comics.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Their modern-day incarnation's ideology is unknown, but from appearances, it seems that HYDRA has abandoned all but the external strappings of Nazism. Notably, the Black Widow puts on a thick Russian accent during her time as a double-agent in HYDRA, as if it would endear the leadership to her, whereas the Nazis' historical views on Slavs were quite prejudiced and vitriolic. All that can be reasonably gleaned about their motives is that they are a combination of Take Over the World and Dystopia Justifies the Means.
  • No Swastikas: By executive mandate, they took away the Nazis' screentime in World War II newsreels. However, Word of God says that HYDRA is supposed to be an elite corps of the Nazis' in the show. However, the HYDRA symbol gives a similar vibe to the swastika whenever it's shown.
  • Red Shirts: Their mooks are not very competent, and many of them actually die onscreen with a Gory Discretion Shot at best.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The WWII HYDRA was this, with shades of Ghostapo as well due to the exploitation of Nordic mythology and occultism. HYDRA's wartime interdimensional portal research ultimately proves pivotal to the plans of the Masters of Evil in the Season One climax.
  • Trouble from the Past: HYDRA was around in WWII as an extension of the Nazi war machine, and while larger and more international in scope in the modern day, it still represents the same threat to world stability as it did back then.
  • Villain Decay: While they never lose their prominence as an antagonistic force, at the beginning of Season One, HYDRA is shown to be so ominous, omnipresent, and well-connected that its depiction bordered on The Conspiracy, especially considering the reveal that the Black Widow was secretly a HYDRA spy in S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA's involvement in T'Chaka's assassination and Man-Ape's coup in Wakanda. The impression given by HYDRA's leader, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, in the very first episode is that he Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All and that Nick Fury knows it. However, they begin looking much less impressive later on. Firstly, it's shown that HYDRA contracted another Nebulous Evil Organization, A.I.M., to create their Cosmic Cube for them and that A.I.M. initially didn't even believe the Cube would work, using the project as an excuse to leech funds off of HYDRA. Then, a reckless assault on HYDRA Island by Hawkeye and Mockingbird manages to very nearly bring HYDRA down, with it being revealed in the aftermath that Fury wanted the Avengers to refrain from attacking HYDRA because Black Widow was a S.H.I.E.L.D. double-agent all along and relaying him information, an operation which the Avengers compromised. There's also the fact that Madame Viper was clandestinely replaced by a Skrull impostor/infiltrator, not to mention that when HYDRA finally figured out A.I.M. was ripping them off and went to war with them, A.I.M. recovered from its defeat, whereas HYDRA didn't.

    Red Skull 

Red Skull(Johann Schmidt)

Voiced by: Steve Blum
First appearance: "Meet Captain America" (Micro-Episode: "Meet Captain America")

The opposite number and greatest enemy of Captain America. A super-soldier created by HYDRA, he sought to attain the power of the Asgardian beings before his schemes were stopped by Captain America and his sidekick, Bucky. Unfortunately, he lived on to see another day, while Captain America lost his closest friend and plunged into the icy arctic waters. Eventually, Cap and Skull clashed again in the present day.

  • Action Survivor: He managed to survive World War II and eventually became the Secretary of Defense for the United States of America under the name Dell Rusk in the present day.
  • Arch-Enemy: To both Captain America and his partner, Bucky (A.K.A The Winter Soldier).
  • Arc Villain: Of the episodes "Nightmare in Red," "Code Red," and "Winter Soldier."
  • Badass Normal: The Red Skull is a highly skilled fighter capable of regularly holding his own against Captain America. He even managed to beat the crap out of him (due to the fact that Cap was infected with the Red Skull's Dust of Death) as Dell Rusk.
  • The Chessmaster: As per usual, he is manipulative and always has a skilled, evil plan in mind that he uses.
  • Chest of Medals: He is dressed in a pre-1938 black Allgemeine-SS uniform and wears a military decoration similar to the Knight's Cross around his neck.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Planned on Captain America to climb onto his rocket. In the second season, he also planned for Captain America and Winter Soldier to break into the Final Sleeper.
  • Colonel Badass: His official rank is never revealed in the series, but since he usually wears a real German uniform, it's often that of a Standartenfuehrer (SS colonel).
  • Color Character: He's the Red Skull.
  • Composite Character: While this Red Skull is largely the same as his comic book counterpart, his role of being responsible for Bucky's death via the explosion of a rocket plane (that is until Captain America touched the Cosmic Cube and unknowingly altered reality to make it so Bucky survived the blast of the explosion in the 21st century) comes from the first Baron Zemo, while the fact that he is portrayed as the mastermind behind Bucky becoming Winter Soldier comes from Vasily Karpov.
  • The Corrupter: Red Skull managed to corrupt Bucky in order for the kid sidekick to become the Winter Soldier.
  • The Dragon: Seems that he was this to Baron Zemo during World War II.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: He most definitely had some plans to usurp Zemo, given what he was dabbling in. Although, it appears that Zemo knew enough about the Skull's ambitions to make use of his WWII-era facility in "This Hostage Earth."
  • Evil Counterpart: He's HYDRA's answer to Captain America, with a keen tactical mind and ruthlessness beyond what the Captain himself is capable of.
  • Evil Laugh: He has a really good one.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Voiced by Steve Blum, who is known for very deep voices.
  • Ghostapo: His plan was to unleash hordes of mythological beasts on the allies.
  • Giant Mecha: He has a bunch in the form of the Sleepers, but in his assault on Washington, D.C., they become a Combining Mecha that he pilots. Its head even resembles his and detaches at the press of a button.
  • Guttural Growler: He is voiced by Steve Blum, after all.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Skull only appears in a few episodes, but whenever he takes the spotlight, the show's tone gets dark. He even has the dubious honour of being the only character in the show to kill a child, and then tortures said child when Cosmic Retcon makes it so that he never died. He's also usually several steps ahead of the heroes and manipulates those around him almost effortlessly.
  • Manipulative Bastard: In his disguise as Dell Rusk, he fools everyone and brainwashes Winter Soldier, Doc Samson, and Falcon into working for him.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Red Skull.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Claims that his acts are all in Captain America's benefit somehow and points out that he eats better than the average American worker while in custody in Hydro Base. This seems to imply that the Red Skull sees his goal as the eradication of the flawed American system, but what Skull seeks to replace it with is HYDRA-style fascism.
  • Popcultural Osmosis: The Red Skull's first appearance in the modern era comes as a surprise for most people... except for comic book readers with good memory, who who should have seen it coming from the very beginning of the episode. The trick they used had already been used in the comics, and exactly in that way.
  • Putting on the Reich: Even with the Nazis' screentime given to HYDRA in this cartoon, Skull is clearly wearing an SS uniform, and he also has the Iron Cross. Justified in that, while traditional SS officers and German soldiers do not appear in Avengers EMH, Word of God still states HYDRA to have been merely an arm of Germany's war effort.
  • The Remnant: He carries on HYDRA's mad world-domination schemes as Dell Rusk with the Winter Soldier, Red Hulk, and the Sleepers even after the capture of Baron Strucker and the HYDRA organization's apparent destruction by A.I.M., S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Avengers in "Hail, Hydra!"
  • Significant Anagram: His 21st century alias is "Dell Rusk."
  • Skull for a Head: A red one, at that. The possibility remains though that it's just a mask, though the idea of the Red Skull wearing both a mask and a Dell Rusk mask over his true face at the same time while infiltrating the US Presidential Cabinet stretches believability.
  • The Sociopath: Planned to enslave Nordic mythological creatures during the war to use them for HYDRA's benefit, showed willingness to kill, torture, and use Bucky without remorse as if he were just an object to be manipulated and then stored away, manipulated the American public in his Dell Rusk identity to enter into politics, framed Bruce Banner for causing a rampage as the Hulk with General Ross's assistance just to put him into the custody of the Hulkbusters and remove him from the picture, infected the Avengers with his Dust of Death, claimed that they were responsible for releasing the disfiguring dust from their mansion, tried sending in brainwashed heroes to kill them, and activated Sleeper robots with the intent of burning Washington, D.C., to the ground, starting with the Capitol building. The Skull consistently shows a lack of empathy and conscience, extreme manipulative tendencies, and total disregard for the rights and feelings of others.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He establishes himself as one of the vilest antagonistic characters in the show by killing off Bucky in World War II. He then tortures him after Cap brings him back via Cosmic Retcon, turning him into the Winter Soldier.

    Grim Reaper 

Grim Reaper (Eric Williams)

Voiced by: Lance Henriksen
First appearance: "Iron Man is Born!" (Micro-Episode: "Behold the Mandroids!")

Grim Reaper: "I have to say, I'm a little surprised to hear from you after all these years. Since you don't associate with... wait, what did you call me?"
Simon: "Eric..."
Grim Reaper: "Oh yes. Psychopath. Criminal scum. But don't worry, Simon... I don't take it personally."

Eric Williams, A.K.A. The Grim Reaper, is a psychopathic sadist who aligns himself with HYDRA not out of ideological sympathy but rather simply for the chance to hurt and maim hundreds of people along the way. Though it is uncertain whether he first obtained his fearsome alias from his grisly reputation or from the cybernetic scythe implant HYDRA built into his forearm, one thing that is certain is that Reaper (in spite of his questionable loyalties and homicidal bloodlust) is one of Baron Strucker's most adept lieutenants. The Reaper's brother Simon Williams, a considerably more decent man, lost his company to Tony Stark and was introduced to MODOC by Reaper to undergo the experimental treatment that transformed him into the Master of Evil Wonder Man.

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Reaper's scythe can easily cut through most threats it comes across, including several implied Red Shirt casualties.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Grim Reaper was a decent threat to the Avengers in the comics, but was otherwise much lamer: his scythe was loaded with gadgets, but he wasn't much of a fighter, he was crazy in a particularly non-functional way, was pointlessly racist (affecting his judgement further), and wore one of the dumbest costumes of any Avengers villain to top it all off. It doesn't help that his comic book counterpart is the victim of a perceived running gag from the fandom about how often he ends up dying. In this adaptation, The Grim Reaper is portrayed as wearing a dark hooded cape and is a Soft-Spoken Sadist Psycho for Hire with a Slasher Smile. He effortlessly broke into and out of a prison that was designed by Tony Stark and guarded by SHIELD, and can slash Hawkeye's arrows and Cap's shield from mid-air with his scythe.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the comics, he became the Grim Reaper to avenge his brother Simon's death due to side-effects from the treatment that made him into Wonder Man. Here, he's part of the reason Simon became Wonder Man in the first place.
  • Artificial Limbs: His right arm contains a cybernetic implant that can change into a scythe.
  • Audible Sharpness: His blade makes a *shing* sound whenever he wields it.
  • Badass Cape: More like a cloak.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: His right arm is a scythe and fits being "below the shoulder."
  • Blood Knight: Reaper enjoys fighting, and can be seen visibly pleased when he escapes the prison, not just because of his escape but because it lets him kill more people.
  • Co-Dragons: With Madame Viper for Baron Strucker.
  • Dissonant Serenity: While explosions and chaos were going on everywhere in the vibranium mine, Reaper remained impassive and just stood by calmly before walking away.
  • The Dragon: To Strucker.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Has a very deep voice.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Almost never rude or impolite to his enemies yet speaks of his delight at the opportunity to slash them.
  • Fake Arm Disarm: Reaper's scythe-arm is slashed to shreds by Black Panther in "Widow's Sting," which is also the last time he appears in the series.
  • For the Evulz: His bio on the series' official site states that he only works for HYDRA because they serve as a vehicle for him to exercise his violent impulses.
  • Grim Reaper: At least in name, gimmick, and appearance.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Despite working for HYDRA, he isn't a racist like he is in the comics. This isn't a case of Adaptational Nice Guy though; he's just a sociopathic killer who's more interested in the act of killing than who he kills.
  • Hidden Eyes: Though they can be seen (and beam penetrating malice) when his hood is removed, Grim Reaper's eyes are usually hidden by the shadow cast by his hood. This only serves to emphasize his separateness from the rest of humanity and lack of a conscience.
  • In the Hood: You hardly ever see his head.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He named himself after Death.
  • Obviously Evil: Just look at his picture.
  • Psycho for Hire: Only fights for HYDRA because it lets him kill people.
  • Sinister Scythe: His trademark weapon. He is the Grim Reaper after all.
  • Slasher Smile: Generally before a fight, as he only lives to make others bleed (well, if blood could be shown anyhow).
  • The Sociopath: He fights for HYDRA just to hurt and kill people and otherwise make them miserable, doesn't feel guilty or ashamed about his inexorable compulsion to violence in the least, and would potentially risk his own brother Simon's life just so that A.I.M. would have another guinea pig to experiment on and HYDRA would have an excuse to drop by and check their progress on the Cosmic Cube. And he betrays Ulysses Klaw, doubtless with the intent of killing him.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Never raises his voice.

    Baron Strucker 

Baron Wolfgang von Strucker

Voiced by: Jim Ward
First appearance: "Iron Man is Born!" (Micro-Episode: "Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD")

"Soon all the world will know that not even the Avengers will stand against the power of HYDRA."

He is the current leader of HYDRA after the disappearance of the Red Skull and the incarceration of Baron Heinrich Zemo 6 years before the series premiere. He was imprisoned like Zemo too though, albeit in the Vault, and has remained there, despite a breakout attempt orchestrated by the Grim Reaper disguised as a failed attack on the UN. However, with The Vault and the other super-villain prisons compromised by the Breakout, Strucker is now free to rule HYDRA again. He possesses a cybernetic false hand, the Satan Claw, which allows him to drain the vitality out of his victims and use it to restore his youth. Strucker's main ambition is plain and simple: to create by conquest or any other means a world in which HYDRA rules all.

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Between his uniform, monocle, and stuffy accent, he's the image of the evil German nobleman.
  • Artificial Limbs: A very evil looking one that can suck someone's life force away. In the source material, it's even called the Satan Claw.
  • Bald of Evil: Mocked for it In-Universe by Bucky.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Forms one with Baron Zemo and the Enchantress in Season One. His plans as leader of HYDRA include looting Wakanda's vibranium mines, using the Black Widow to spy on S.H.I.E.L.D. (unaware that she's a double-agent), and contracting A.I.M. to create a Cosmic Cube capable of altering reality so that he can rewrite history and recreate the world in his image.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Of HYDRA, in the sense that Baron Zemo could usurp Strucker's authority any time he wanted and the grunts would bow down before Zemo's undisputed victory, but Zemo deigns to let Strucker have HYDRA, believing himself to be unworthy or incapable of leading it himself until the more personal business of murdering Captain America is accomplished.
  • The Chessmaster: Averted. Strucker thinks he's this, but he fails badly at it. He must have thought he was clever using HYDRA's attack on the UN and staged defeat by Iron Man to smuggle Grim Reaper into the Vault disguised as a regular mook and then have Reaper try to break him out. He also must have thought it was clever of himself to keep tabs on S.H.I.E.L.D. both before and after the Breakout using the Black Widow as his spy. However, Strucker didn't count on Black Widow being a S.H.I.E.L.D. double-agent or Madame Viper being a Skrull impersonator, nor did he initially suspect that A.I.M. was only using the Cosmic Cube project as an excuse to demand more down-payments from HYDRA without making any real progress. When A.I.M. figured out that the Cube might actually work and canceled the contract with HYDRA, returning their money, Strucker wised up a little, but it doesn't change that he got played so badly by rivaling factions.
  • Dragon Ascendant: During World War II, he was a lieutenant in service of the Red Skull, who in turn was a lieutenant in service of Baron Zemo. In modern times, he's the leader of HYDRA, with Skull having moved on to independent political infiltration of the USA and Zemo having moved on to the Masters of Evil and plans of killing Captain America.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Essentially Strucker's goal. Strucker wants to create a fascist, totalitarian, HYDRA-ruled new world order, and he's willing to use terrorism, cajoling, infiltration, international politicking, and the Cosmic Cube to do it.
  • Evil Old Folks: In the modern day, Strucker is a decrepit man who uses his life-draining claw to retain a degree of youth. This is most notable in the micro-episode which introduces him, where he drains a hapless Red Shirt to death and becomes visibly younger as a result.
  • Fake Arm Disarm: Hawkeye breaks Strucker's Satan Claw by pinning it to the wall with an arrow in "Hail Hydra!" Strucker disengages it and tries to reach the Cosmic Cube before the heroes do, but he fails.
  • Gun And Sword: Maybe never at the same time, but Strucker did use a sword and he did use a gun.
  • Life Energy / Life Drain: How he's still alive.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Hinted at regarding his time in The Vault, as Nick Fury sees him as a potential source of information on HYDRA's recent activities.
  • Nazi Nobleman: A Baron, in this case.
  • Putting on the Reich: See the entry for Red Skull above.
  • The Right Hand of Doom: One that sucks your life away.
  • The Von Trope Family Baron Wolfgang von Strucker.

    Madame Viper 

Madame Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian)

Voiced by: Vanessa Marshall
First appearance: "Gamma World, Part 1"

Madame Viper is Baron Strucker's other lieutenant, after the Grim Reaper, and in all probability his more reliable and sane one. She was at some point replaced with a Skrull impostor, and teamed up with other prisoners to escape captivity. Back on Earth after the ordeal, Viper teamed up with the Serpent Society as their impromptu leader to break out of a prison transport and fight Captain America and Spider-Man in the sewers while the heroes were defending helpless civilians.

  • The Baroness: Loves to see people in pain. And she's hot.
  • Co-Dragons: With Grim Reaper for Baron Strucker.
  • Dark Action Girl: Enjoys combat.
  • Debt Detester: Tells Captain America point blank that the reason she saved him was because she doesn't like being in her enemy's debt.
  • Distressed Damsel: After the Skrulls replaced her.
  • Enemy Mine: With Captain America and later the Avengers during the Skrull invasion.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Downplayed, but she's downright confused that Cap would sacrifice his place on the ship to rescue her from the Super Skrull. However, the episode does show she knows Captain America's character, so it's likely less that she can't grasp that he'd do it and more that she never thought he'd do it for her.
  • Evil Brit: She has a British accent.
  • Freudian Excuse: Read Good Scars, Evil Scars below.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: She has a scar on the hidden side of her face. It's strongly hinted it was a superhero who did this to her, resulting in her hate of them and subsequent villainy.
  • Kick the Dog: Has a few moments of this in "Along Came A Spider."
  • Killed Off for Real: Not the real Viper, but rather the Skrull Madame Viper was killed by Mockingbird, alerting Nick Fury to the Skrull secret invasion when her body reverted to its true form post-mortem.
  • Most Common Superpower: Her buxom breasts are not very difficult to see in her form-fitting green wardrobe.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Viper is a very beautiful woman with dark green hair and lipstick who wears a very form-fitting jumpsuit that accentuates her voluptuous yet toned body, buxom breasts, toned broad shoulders, and long toned legs.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Her name is Madame Viper, which refers to the serpent creature of the same name.
  • Opera Gloves: Wears long green latex versions.
  • Pet the Dog: Went out of her way to wake up Invisible Woman so they could rescue Cap when she could have easily left him to the Skrulls. She's even the one to pull him onto the ship.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: In "Widow's Sting," she, or rather her Skrull impersonator, tongues the ring on a grenade before pulling it out with her teeth.
  • The Remnant: Actually, the real Madame Viper only first appears in Season Two, by which point Baron Strucker had been arrested and HYDRA presumably collapsed.
  • Ship Tease: There's certainly a few moments with Cap in "Prisoner of War" that you could read into...
  • The Sociopath: In "Along Came a Spider," she ordered the Serpent Society to attack not Cap or Spidey first but rather the civilians they're protecting underground and has such little capacity for anxiety or fear that she'd attack the heroes while the sewers are collapsing in on themselves over her head, stating that snakes have a penchant for escaping from tight spots.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Played with. Cap and Viper had an episode where they were forced to team up to escape the Skrulls. No sentimentality or even mutual understanding or respect was established then or on the long trip back to Earth. She still wants to kill him. That said, she did rescue him by waking up Sue Storm to shield him and got him on the ship before it took off. Also, she made a point of saying that she'll work with him until the Skrulls are defeated and not a second longer.
  • Utility Belt: Wears two, which support holsters for her pistols.
  • Tank-Top Tomboy: Wears a green latex halter-top.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: She was last seen escaping into the sewers as leader of the Serpent Society. She is strangely absent when the society is attacked and captured by Yellowjacket with not even a reference to tie her to their capture.
  • Whip It Good: She wields a whip in combat.