I don't know about my fellow Captain America fans out there, but sometimes I find it hard to believe we live in a world where Captain America is a secret Hydra agent. This controversial twist was revealed in the comic Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 by writer Nick Spencer, and the internet responded with confusion, outrage, and memes expressing their displeasure or disbelief that there's any way this could be a permanent thing. However, according to Spencer, "This is not a clone, not an impostor, not mind control, not someone else acting through Steve. This really is Steve Rogers, Captain America himself." Longtime Captain America fan Joel Simon agrees with Spencer that this is totally Steve Rogers — but he also agrees with the fans that there's no way this twist will stick. His fan theory explaining Captain America being a part of Hydra makes way more sense than, well, Captain America being a part of Hydra.
The theory can be summed up in two words: Cosmic Cube (known to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans as the Tesseract). The Cube was introduced in 1966 in the science fiction anthology Tales of Suspense #79, and it, like Captain America himself, was co-created by Jack Kirby. According to Marvel.com, "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." Pay attention to the words "transforming your enemies," because that becomes important later.
The Cube has been through a lot in the Marvel comic universe, but the person whose name most frequently comes up in the Cube's history is Red Skull, Not only has Red Skull gotten his hands on the first Cube ( Tales of Suspense #79 ), but he also got his hands on the second Cube ( Super-Villain Team-Up #17 ), absorbed its power inside his body for a while ( Captain America Volume 3, #14 ), and created a new Cube out of fragmented shards of one of the previous Cubes ( Captain America Volume 5, #1 ). Seriously, the guy's a bit obsessed. And Captain America has been a huge pain in his Hydra-loving behind for a really long time...
If Red Skull has managed to get his hands on another Cosmic Cube, or create a new Cube out of fragments of the old again, then it would explain why we're suddenly living in a world where Steve Rogers supports Hydra. It would explain our altered reality in a way that adheres to exactly what Spencer said: That is Steve Rogers. He's not a clone. He's not an imposter. He's not mind controlled. No one else is acting through him. This is really Steve Rogers, Captain America himself, living in an alternate reality, or living as an alternate version of himself, who has always been loyal to Hydra. And, in all likelihood, Red Skull is going to use this transformation of Steve to help him either create a new, more powerful Cube, or, you know, take over the world. Super villains, am I right?
If you flip back through the comic to where Steve gets his youth back — having given up his role as Captain America to Sam Wilson because his super serum was wearing off and he was actually starting to look his age — Red Skull also makes an appearance, alluding to some master plan that he has in store. Sure, the last time we saw the Cosmic Cube, it had inevitably gotten destroyed and the fragments had taken the form of a small child or something ( Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha ). But we've seen time and time again in the comics that one only needs a single shard of the Cube in order to cause some trouble. Red Skull has written a new world in which Captain America is a Hydra agent, and that is no world I want to be a part of. But it's a way better theory than the idea that Steve Rogers, of all people, would ever say, "Hail Hydra."
No matter what, we need to light that prayer candle that there's a better explanation for this than that it's actually true. Captain America's legacy deserves better than this.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Marvel