Steve Rogers Is A Hydra Agent: Why It's Not OK
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Politics and Activism

Steve Rogers Is A Hydra Agent: Why It's Not OK

Captain America is a Nazi now, and I feel betrayed by Marvel Comics.

Steve Rogers Is A Hydra Agent: Why It's Not OK
The Verge

If, like me, you have at least a passing interest in comics, or look at the “Trending” section on your Facebook feed, you have probably heard the shocking news that broke last Wednesday: Captain America is a Hydra agent. If you don’t know much about Captain America or Hydra, here’s a rundown: Captain America is (or was) a superhero created in late 1940 by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon – two Jewish Americans – with an explicitly political message best expressed by the fact that his very first cover showed him socking Adolf Hitler in the jaw, a full year before the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor and draw the United States into World War II.

Hydra has, traditionally, been the organization that has stood most in opposition to Captain America once he ran out of Hitler's to punch. The organization is composed mostly of former Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who covertly attempt to bring about a fascist New World Order and so largely exists as a way for Captain America to continue punching Nazis in the modern day, particularly given its association with Captain America’s traditional arch-enemy, Red Skull, who is literally a Nazi.

So, what changed? Well, in the new comic book “Captain America: Steve Rogers #1”, which went on sale last Wednesday, Steve Rogers was revealed to have been an agent of Hydra the entire time: not just for the last few years, but for the whole of his comic book history. In an interview with Time, Marvel Executive Tom Brevoort said, “You should feel uneasy about the fact that everything you know and love about Steve Rogers can be upended”.

Well, Tom, I feel a lot more than uneasy. While an article on Gizmodo urges us not to overreact, stating – probably quite correctly – that few changes of this sort in comic book remain permanent, I am not upset because we have redefined this character for the sake of an interesting twist that will keep Marvel in the news and remind people that they make more than just movies. No, I am upset because this feels like a betrayal to me as a Jewish American. Captain America is a character created by two Jewish men explicitly as a way to punch up at the Nazis, a character whose very existence caused people – Americans, even – to send its creators death threats because, lest we forget, America of the late 1930s was not terribly upset by the rise of the Nazis. The act of taking this character, who has been so radical as a symbol of the America we should aspire to be rather than the one we are, and making him into a Nazi is spitting in the face of both his values and American Jewry.

Nazis are not stock villains. Nazis are not “generically evil bad guys” for writers to play with at will. They are not your gimmick. They are not your way to cheaply write a villain so that everyone hates them without having to put forth effort. The Nazis were a very real and very terrible organization responsible for the wholesale extermination of millions of lives. I have whole branches of my family tree that were never allowed to exist because they were not as lucky as my great-grandfather and great-grandmother. They did not make it out in time.

The other weekend my mother and I had the extraordinary opportunity to hear Morris Glass, an Auschwitz survivor, speak at our state’s Holocaust Commemoration ceremony at Meredith College. He spoke of seeing his father killed and his teeth pulled from his mouth because he had gold fillings. He spoke about doing hard labor in mines, being forced along death marches, and the fear that every time he was made to shower, it wouldn’t be water that came out. He broke down in tears speaking about the last time he ever saw his mother and sister. The Holocaust was, as he put it, “a gehenna,” which means “hell.” To make a character who was create as a statement for why American should fight the Nazis and make him one of these people responsible for hell on earth as a cheap shock is nothing short of repugnant.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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