WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Secret Empire #0
When it was revealed to the world that Captain America had turned evil, some took it beyond the criticism of being an “unwise decision” all the way to deeming it a slap to the face for the most invested and devoted Marvel fans. The story ended up far more complicated than a simple villainous twist from Steve Rogers, but the pain lingered. Which is why fans may want to hear what the series’ writer has to say about Captain America’s global Hydra order. According to him, Marvel’s Secret Empire isn’t meant as an insult to fans, but meant to inject the Marvel Universe with one of fandom’s most beloved epics: Star Wars.
The similarities between Captain America’s master plan and the world of Jedi and Rebel Alliances may be hard to see now, but writer Nick Spencer and his editorial team at Marvel have maintained that readers are jumping to plenty of assumptions (typically cynical ones over hopeful). The key plot point in Secret Empire may be that Captain America is no hero – not in moral terms, nor even of his own sweeping epic. A cruel empire may have taken over the Marvel Universe, but as every Star Wars fan knows… that’s when the real story starts. And when all is said and one, the story of the soldiers who stood up to that domination may be more memorable than the villains or manipulations that created it.
Marvel readers are still reeling from the events of Secret Empire #0, showing Steve Rogers launch the plan he had spent months carefully plotting. And it worked perfectly, delivering too many threats for Earth’s heroes to handle at once. When he had claimed the power he sought, he slammed the doors shut on anyone who could oppose him – and told them straight to their faces that there was no going back. It seemed like a supreme victory, but writer Nick Spencer suggests it’s really the start of the story he has in mind, not the final chapter.
Spencer took to Twitter to explain how his Captain America opus isn’t just reminiscent of the galaxy far, far away, but was specifically influenced by its spirit of an all-powerful, looming empire – and the men and women who fight against it:
One of my favorite things about SECRET EMPIRE is you get to see Marvel heroes as underground resistance fighters. That’s a very different dynamic for superhero characters, one you don’t usually see. A lot of the time, SECRET EMPIRE felt like it was channeling STAR WARS more than any previous Marvel stories. I watched ROGUE ONE about a bajillion times to capture that vibe- a dark war story, but still with some humor and character chemistry.
Re: last thread. Woke up to people actually saying “But ROGUE ONE is about people fighting fascism.” smh. Yeah- so is SECRET EMPIRE. The most accurate subtitle you could give would be ‘Marvel heroes vs. a fascist takeover of the US.’ Read. The. Book.
Many comic enthusiasts have made it abundantly clear that no amount of positive spin of promises will bring them back to read the adventures of a Nazi-supporting Captain America, even if Spencer and the overall Secret Empire event intend to make Steve pay for his fascism. But for the readers pleased with the unexpected story, the rewriting of Marvel history, and the completely unpredictable Captain America twists still coming, the comparisons to Star Wars can only add to the excitement. Especially since Secret Empire seems poised to do exactly what Rogue One sought to: show the heroism of the people fighting an unwinnable war, sacrificing everything to simply keep hope alive.
Again, it may be a shame that Captain America’s own heroic history needed to be destroyed to get this story rolling… but Spencer’s reference may demand a new look at Steve Rogers. If the heroes of the Marvel Universe are now a stand-in for the Rebel Alliance, Cap’s Secret Empire is the Galactic Empire – giving him the role of the Emperor, or Darth Vader. More likely the latter, since Steve is devout in the true beliefs of the ancient Hydra order, and takes no enjoyment or pleasure in committing the horrors required for global unity, strength, and peace.
Will Steve Rogers prove as fearsome, resolved, and iconic in his antagonist role as Anakin Skywalker? Or do fans only want great villains who start out that way?
It’s an interesting idea to consider, especially when asking if Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader would have been similarly criticized as an ‘insult’ to the fans… had the Star Wars saga begun with Anakin. There’s still grounds to argue that Secret Empire is fundamentally not the same as Star Wars, since Anakin’s fall from hero to villain was (supposed to be) a tragic, understandable one. Anakin didn’t have history rewritten to reveal that he had always been a Sith, for instance. But are the details more important than the quality of the story they made possible?
Spencer is also keen to point out that readers believing Captain America won’t be the villain of this story are misinformed. Vader and the Empire were never the heroes, or ‘good guys,’ regardless of which movie or how much insight into their motives was offered. Hopefully, the stories told in Marvel’s Secret Empire will make good on Spencer’s intent and deliver a Rogue One vibe adding to the specter and shadow cast by Steve Rogers. Fans who never wanted to see him play any antagonist role will still be unhappy, but perhaps some readers on the fence will be willing to give it a try.
Source: Nick Spencer
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