Earth in the Marvel comics universe is home to two major, semi-secret organizations. It has HYDRA, which aims to control the world, and S.H.I.E.L.D., which tries to stop that from happening.
The law-enforcement team also does other things, but the baddies keep showing up to cause trouble. It's an almost constant threat, which is surprising because it doesn't stand for anything. We don't mean it lacks principles. The letters in the name, "HYDRA," literally do not stand for anything. They only capitalize it to look important.
The tug-of-war between the two groups has gone on for over half a century. S.H.I.E.L.D. has typically come out on top, but Marvel threw even those victories off a cliff in 2009 when the Secret Warriors storyline revealed that HYDRA had been running the "good guys" since the beginning. That's right-- it wasn't just in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The balance of power has constantly shifted between the two adversaries, and so does the loyalty of their members.
Many superheroes have found themselves going to the "dark side." Some have even gone so far as actually becoming members of HYDRA. The most famous incidence of this was in 2017.
The Secret Empire arc (most S.H.I.E.L.D./HYDRA storylines have "Secret" in the title because secrets are most of what they do) had Steve Rogers going full-on evil mastermind and not only joining the baddies, but leading them.
It wasn't the "real" Captain America, though, so it was kind of a cop-0ut. Plenty of other, actual do-gooders have crossed over, however.
Here are the 20 Heroes Even True Fans Never Knew Joined Hydra.
Roger Brokeridge first appeared as part of the Initiative that followed Marvel’s first Civil War. That program put a regulated, S.H.I.E.L.D.-sponsored team in each state. Hardball is a member of Nevada’s group, the Heavy Hitters.
We find out later that Hardball has been an agent of HYDRA almost since he gained his powers.
So this isn’t a situation where he started out good and then took up with the villains. In his case, he started “bad” and then stumbled into becoming a superhero.
This was after he incidentally saved a little girl while robbing an armored car, and Wonder Man got the wrong idea.
Brokeridge grappled with his loyalties for years before he eliminated his handler and ran a HYDRA training camp.
However, he eventually rejoined the heroes because he was never really into villainy in the first place.
When we first meet Bobbi Morse on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she’s a scary member of HYDRA. We only find out later that she’s a mole and has been good the whole time. Her comic-book counterpart similarly plays both sides.
After Steve Rogers becomes Hydra Supreme in Secret Empire, an underground movement rises up to oppose him. This includes Mockingbird, who reveals that her loyalty is fluid.
In the fifth issue of the comic, she secretly contacts the regime and gives them the go-ahead to attack the heroes’ base.
She reveals later that she was only helping HYDRA to buy the Resistance time. She’s also not even the only mole in their group.
However, it’s a good thing that the real Captain America showed up because they weren’t going to solve things on their own.
Even an evil group that values conformity and obedience knows the worth of a dedicated superteam. So Captain America’s HYDRA has its own Avengers. One of the members is the Odinson, who works with the bad guys for understandable reasons.
He’s trying to recover Mjolnir so that he can be Thor again. We know he loves the weapon, but we’re not sure helping a fascist regime control the world is the best way to go about getting it back.
In his defense, though, it is a pretty great hammer. He's also trying to rescue Jane Foster from a purgatory dimension, but we know where his love truly is.
Thor does a lot of HYDRA dirty work before he realizes that it’s not worth it, and he eventually turns back to the side of good.
He’s instrumental in defeating the evil army and convincing other Bad Avengers to join him.
17 Carmilla Black
Carmilla Black's alter ego is Scorpion. This put her in conflict with the villain of the same name, Mac Gargan, who believed that she was hurting his “brand.”
They’re also on opposite sides of the law, so odds were pretty good they were going to end up fighting, anyway.
Like Hardball, Black did a stint as part of The Initiative. Also like Hardball, she ended up helping run a HYDRA training camp in Madripoor.
Ensuing events reveal that Scorpion was a double agent. She even convinces Hardball to turn himself in.
However, meanwhile, she was doing everything she could to keep her boyfriend safe, and that included going up against the Initiative’s special forces team, the Shadow Initiative.
Having her ultimately be good makes this a gray area. However, she did train a lot of HYDRA agents.
The Spider-Woman: Origin series from 2005 provides an alternate history for Jessica Drew. In this version, she gains her powers after her father accidentally beams spider DNA into her with a magical science laser while she’s still in utero.
Sure, this sounds ridiculous, but the original version involves serum and genetic acceleration. Comics are wacky.
Another major difference between the new and old Spider-Woman stories is that this Jessica Drew starts her career working for HYDRA. She thinks she’s doing good here and her main drive is finding her parents.
The villains also brainwashed her and gave her false memories, so it really wasn’t her fault.
Eventually, Drew comes around to heroism. However, this is only after other people completely break HYDRA’s hold on her mind.
Another member of HYDRA’s Avengers team in Secret Empire is Eric O’Grady, the third Ant-Man. At least, that’s partly true.
This version of O’Grady, who calls himself Black Ant, is an android. He’s specifically a Life Model Decoy of the original, who had perished in a fight with the Descendants years earlier.
Black Ant’s main motivation was to shed his robot body for a real one. This got him blown up when the Mad Thinker planted a bomb inside him. However, that didn’t stop Faux’Grady for long, and he returned before long.
This copy of O’Grady is identical to the original. This means that he’s a terrible person, and nobody likes him.
He’s also an opportunist. This is why when Thor comes around against HYDRA, Black Ant changes sides faster than he can switch sizes.
14 The Punisher
It’s a stretch to call Frank Castle a “hero.” He means well, but his methods are often horrifying. However, his principles have been pretty sound, so it’s surprising that he would go full HYDRA.
He joined HYDRA because Hydra Supreme Steve Rogers promised that he had good intentions.
The fake Captain America said that his ultimate goal was to “fix” history and ensure that the Axis powers won World War II. This, he argued, would prevent every casualty that HYDRA had created through the ensuing years, including Castle’s family.
The Punisher comes to regret helping the organization and tries to make up for it the only way he knows how, and of course this means he goes on a huge rampage to take out all of the HYDRA agents he can.
The Dawn of the White Light was a group of villains that Gorgon founded. When he joined The Hand and HYDRA, he brought the team with him.
Most members were just evil, but some were brainwashed former heroes.
One of these was former X-Man Jean-Paul Beaubier, whose work name was Northstar. After he lost his life in battle, HYDRA stole his body.
They resurrected and reconditioned him so that he would work for them, and then they set him loose with the rest of the team.
Wolverine tracks them down and defeats them using a combination of fighting and the careful application of humongous Sentinel robots. S.H.I.E.L.D. that later managed to undo both the condition and some subsequent brainwashing.
Northstar’s mind has been through a lot.
Officially, the brainwashed “fixer” Elektra Natchios was working for The Hand. HOwever, that group teamed up with HYDRA to steal bodies and build their super squads. It was a joint venture, so we’re technically going to count it.
Elektra was responsible for snatching up Northstar so that he could head up the Dawn of the White Light and lose against Wolverine again.
HYDRA had tried to hire Elektra legitimately before that, but she refused. It took the mind modification to get her to join with HYDRA... or did it?
As we discover, the whole “brainwashing” thing was a ruse, and she had only joined up with The Hand to destroy it — and HYDRA — from the inside.
Considering that a key part of this scheme was for The Hand to bring her back from the grave, it’s either brilliant or crazy.
11 Codename: Bravo
Codename: Bravo was a supersoldier who was originally a member of an anti-HYDRA task force with Captain America and Peggy Carter.
A rift formed between the two men over Carter, so Bravo did the only logical thing. By which we mean that he abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. and eventually joined up with its biggest enemy.
It was really about defeating Steve Rogers, and he thought the easiest way to do this was to get access to as many resources as he could.
So he teamed up with Baron Zemo and the Hydra Queen, and things were going pretty well until they didn’t.
During Bravo’s final battle against Rogers, Hydra Queen tried to shoot the hero. Captain America raised his mighty shield, and the bullets bounced off of it and hit Bravo. The guy had the worst luck.
The Earth X series takes place on the Marvel Multiverse’s Earth-9997. It’s just like our own world, except that all superpowers, superbeings, and even magic are thanks to mutations.
“Regular” mutants like the X-Men have the same backstory. However, the Kree also released Terrigen Mists that encompass the planet and only add to the powered population.
HYDRA doesn’t exist as we know it in this universe. The species by that name is monstrous and parasitic. Norman Osborn created it to defeat S.H.I.E.L.D. so that he could become (and remain) President.
Rather than a clandestine group that just puts tentacles on everything, these are little octopus creatures that take over hosts.
The queen of the species infects and steals Earth-9997’s Jen Walters, the She-Hulk. This is probably because she was already green and it’s important to match.
The android Vision was yet another member of Hydra Supreme Steve Rogers’ Avengers. However, his involvement on the wrong side wasn’t like in the Civil War movie when he joined the pro-registration side for pragmatic reasons. It was just a virus.
HYDRA scientist and robot Arnim Zola created the program that keeps Vision mostly in check and compliant. It has a few “hiccups” along the way, but he mostly stays under control until something like love breaks the hold on him.
When Vision sees his “daughter,” Viv, it’s enough to restore his free will. He immediately redirects the virus through Rogers’ robotic soldiers and disables them.
None of this makes any sense, but if it helps get rid of Evil Captain America, we’re all for it.
8 Sue Storm
Earth-1720 is one of the worst places an interdimensional traveler can end up. It’s a world in which HYDRA has completely taken over.
On this Earth, HYDRA's leader is the usually heroic Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman.
She still has her cosmic ray powers in this universe, which probably helps her stay in power. We doubt anyone’s going to be insubordinate when their boss could be in the room with them. Because she’s already taken over the world, she has a hobby to keep herself busy.
This involves capturing the few good folks who are still around and adding them to her ranks with mind control.
However, when the rest of the Exiles show up and defeat her soldiers, she destroys the entire dimension.
7 The S.H.I.E.L.D. Super-Agents
This team of four — Knockabout, Psi-Borg, Violence, and sometimes Ivory — were part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative that was so secret that not even Nick Fury knew about it and they didn’t meet under the best of circumstances.
The group introduced themselves to their new boss by immediately picking a fight with him. Because Fury is one of the most uncannily capable characters ever, he managed to hold them off until their trainer arrived to loop everyone in.
Twleve issues after they showed up, the Super-Agents revealed themselves to be even more secret than anyone thought.
They were a HYDRA cell and launched an attack on S.H.I.E.L.D., taking out a lot of personnel. Two of them got away and disappeared forever.
However, Psi-Borg didn’t do so well. She picked a psychic fight with Network Nina, who exploded her head.
You’d probably think that you couldn’t trust a guy who goes by the name “Hellfire,” even if all that means is that he can make a chain burst into flames like Ghost Rider. In the case of the Secret Warriors series, you’d be right.
James Taylor James is the grandson of Carter Slade. He was the Phantom Rider before that name even existed (writers applied that moniker to him retroactively).
This character was a Wild West precursor to the skull-headed speed demon, so that’s apparently where James got his own abilities.
During the storyline, we find out that HYDRA is blackmailing Hellfire for information by threatening his girlfriend, Daisy Johnson.
The intelligence he provides costs several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents their lives. When Fury finds out about his double-dealing, he drops James off of a cliff.
5 Spider-Man 2099
Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099, was a member of the Exiles when they ended up on the HYDRA world of Earth-1720.
Minions of the evil Sue Storm of that world easily defeated him, Longshot, and Blink. Then it was their turn in the brainwashing chair.
The newly turned Spider-Man and the other Exiles squared off against their former teammates, which include Morph, Sabretooth, and Psylocke.
The good news is that the mind-controlled Exiles don’t have to be bad for long because they really don’t do well in that fight.
O’Hara spent the rest of this arc unconscious while crazy things happened. The universe spontaneously re-created itself after Sue blew it up.
Then Reed Richards retrieved the non-HYDRA population of Earth-1720 from a “pan-dimensional pocket” he’d stashed inside his daughter’s necklace.
Deadpool’s arms dealer wound up stranded at a HYDRA base and instead of just hanging out in a box, he made the best of the situation and joined up.
His new, evil name was “The Penetraitor,” the spelling of which he assured Wolverine was all important when the X-Man showed up to skewer everyone.
Weasel planned to outfit his new minions with teleportation harnesses that would let them “penetrate” any building they want. He managed to stay alive long enough for everyone to get strapped in and beam away, and that’s when that extra “I” in his name came into play.
He’d programmed the hardware to send the entire, green-suited squad to prison in Guantanamo Bay.
This fulfilled the “traitor” part he’d snuck into his handle. However, secret codes based on homophones really only work in print.
3 Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff was yet another member of Secret Empire’s Bizarro team of Avengers. Her involvement was due to similar causes than Vision’s. However, he had a rogue program telling him what to do, and she had an Elder God inhabiting her body.
Specifically, it was Chthon, the god of chaos, and that’s not someone you want possessing you unless you’re alright helping an alternate-timeline Captain America enslave humanity. We assume most people aren’t cool with that at all.
Wanda eventually gets rid of her unwanted passenger with the help of Doctor Strange.
He also opens up a portal that brings back Jane Foster, which gives the Odinson even one reason fewer to stand on the side of the fascists.
Wade Wilson isn’t necessarily a bad guy. He’s mostly just obnoxious-- okay, he’s almost completely obnoxious. However, he knows who his friends are, and once you’re tight with Deadpool, he won’t typically let you down.
His loyalty and admiration of Captain America lead him to join up with his HYDRA Avengers team in Secret Empire.
This is after he takes down S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson in the early days of the HYDRA coup, but his conscience doesn’t start bugging him until Cap sends him to find the Resistance.
He tracks them down to a base in the desert, but at this point, he realizes that he’s on the wrong side of this fight.
So when he reports his findings, he tells his bosses that he didn’t find anything. This buys the heroes time to mount their plan to fight back.
Wolverine has worked for HYDRA on multiple occasions in different universes. In the main one, he got the mind-control treatment and served the organization as a nearly unstoppable soldier.
In fact, he’s the reason why Northstar’s body was available for resurrection and his own turn at running with baddies.
S.H.I.E.L.D. eventually captured and deprogrammed Logan and returned him to hero duty.
The other major instance of Wolverine rocking the green uniform was in the HYDRA universe of Earth-1720. There, he worked alongside his paramour Sue Storm as her enforcer.
His main task was tracking down Reed Richards and removing him as a threat.
Unfortunately for this version, he didn’t survive to redeem himself. He blew up along with the rest of his team when Storm destroyed the entire dimension.
Are there any other heroes who joined Hydra? Sound off in the comments!