We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Captain America’s most twisted story is too dark for the MCU

Captain America has been in a few stories that'll never become Marvel movies, but we'd be especially surprised if this one ever became part of the MCU.

Chris Evans as Captain America

We all know Captain America in the MCU as one of the most dedicated heroes ever. Portrayed by Chris Evans in the Captain America cast, Steve Rogers stands for everything that’s good and worthwhile in our world. But there’s one story where he did the opposite, and we doubt it’ll ever get adapted.

In 2017, Captain America starred in a comics mini-series called Secret Empire. Written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Rod Reis, Daniel Acuña, Steve McNiven, and Andrea Sorrentino, Secret Empire flips the script on the Steve we know and love by turning him into the one thing he hates.

That’s right: he became the CEO of Stark Industries. No, in this narrative, Captain America turns out to be a sleeper agent for the institution he’d spent so long battling against, the evil Hydra. Yes, Spencer and his team turned the action movie icon into a proto-fascist, precipitated by him even uttering the words “Hail Hydra”. Definitely not the MCU character you recognize.

Based around that major twist, the whole notion is that Steve makes machinations for Hydra to rule the USA – and the world. Elisa Sinclair, the current Madame Hydra assists him, after he hosts a mutiny against the Red Skull.

YouTube Thumbnail

His campaign is robust. Weaponizing dedicated Hydra operatives within governments around the world, Inhumans and mutants have to register their powers and submit to living in gated communities. Helicarriers launch assaults on every major city. Cap makes a ruthless Hydra Supreme, and the world panics.

Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel’s counter-attacks are blocked first through existing Earthly defenses. Other heroes, like Thor, Spider-Man, The Punisher, and The Falcon, gradually band together, following a signal sent out by Iron Man in case of emergency.

So, how and why does Steve Rogers become Marvel’s version of a neo-fascist dictator? Well, his memories are changed by a cosmic cube. How much sense that makes will depend on how much you read comics, but funky space magic used by Red Skull does the trick (well, really it’s a clone of Red Skull, but unpacking every bit of continuity would take all day).

YouTube Thumbnail

Tony Stark eventually realizes this, but of course the cube was broken into pieces, and chunks were placed in different locations. He believes if they can rebuild the object, they can reverse what was done to Steve.

While all that’s happening, we get to see what Steve looks like when he’s not protecting the innocent. He kills, tortures, and destroys without mercy, and fantasizes about using Mjolnir and other weapons to inflict more pain. The idea was to explore how the tools of Marvel villains and heroes are analogs for nuclear war, but it just doesn’t quite work.

Neither does Cap’s transformation. There’s something strong in the thesis, because of the rise of fascist ideologies in modern politics, but this version misses the mark. The story was preceded by Steve proclaiming “Hail Hydra” in an iconic comics panel, causing uproar within pop culture. But you never quite get over the sense this was all done for controversy.

Eventually the heroes win, in the ways you expect them to, and all is well. A subplot, involving the original Steve getting his memories back within a vision of the afterlife, is the best part. At the very least, Spencer made something that the MCU will probably avoid forever, for just how off and dark it gets.