Hydra. It is a word that will live in infamy. Of all the recent pop culture memes to come out of Hollywood in 2014, this was one of the biggest… for about a month, but whatever.

The Red Skull

The Red Skull

To get you up to speed, Hydra is a group of power hungry bad guys set firmly inside the Marvel Comics Universe.  They are an offshoot of the Nazi war machine headed by the notorious Johann Shmidt, aka the Red Skull as seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, and played expertly by the terrific actor Hugo Weaving.

Sadly, the first movie in the franchise saw the end of poor Johann, as he was dissolved rather unceremoniously into space dust, and it appeared that the Hydra threat had been defeated.  The Avengers followed and with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D, managed to thwart an alien invasion of New York. After that, Iron Man took on the ‘Mandarin’ and Thor fought an undead Legolas in the land of Narnia or something.

Then the bombshell dropped.



Senator (Whats-His-Face) Stern

The sequel to Captain America, cleverly titled Captain America: The Winter Soldier revealed with much fanfare, and explosions, that Hydra was in fact not gone but deeply embedded amidst the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D.  and the highest echelons of power in the United States.  This was clearly demonstrated when the infuriatingly inquisitive and hostile Senator Whats-his-face from Iron Man 2 whispered into the ears of his fellow conspirators ‘Hail Hydra’.

hail-hydra10jpg-e3252bHydra’s explicit exposure (hehe) sent shockwaves across the Marvel Movie universe, even affecting my favorite new prime time show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which was quite possibly the greatest plot twist in TV history. Okay maybe not, but I thought it was awesome, and I digress.

I wouldn’t call myself a ‘comic book geek’ by any stretch of the imagination, I barely read them and when I do it’s mostly Star Wars or other franchise comics like Mass Effect or Sonic The Hedgehog, hey don’t mess with my childhood, and I don’t read Captain America, Superman, Spiderman etc. like ‘normal’ comic geeks but I am a huge fan of the Marvel movies and as such I will only concentrate on the films in this piece. (And the winner for best run-on sentence goes to…) A more recent infatuation of mine is what is commonly referred to as ‘hidden history, or as the un-educated deluded masses refer to it as ‘wacko conspiracy theories’, but the blatant misnomer shows how much they know. I am a lover of truth and justice and wish to understand the true nature of our world.  I personally agree with the immortal words of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, “Half of writing history is hiding the truth.”  And so, my watch begins. As each new blockbuster movie hits theaters, at least the ones I want to see, I watch with the intent of being entertained, certainly, but I am also on the lookout for hidden, or blatant, political and philosophical themes. There are many ‘conspiracy theories’ about Hollywood and various actors / directors ::cough::  Stanley Kubrick for one ::cough:: which I don’t need to go into here but there is one thing about Hollyweird that, for sure, isn’t just a theory. Ever since the golden age of Hollywood, the American Military establishment has had a growing influence in Tinseltown, the most notable of which is the CIA. Thanks to books like Reclaiming Parkland by James DiEuginio and Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies by David L. Robb, as well as the great documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, I have learned a great deal about how much influence the military establishment and the CIA have on our movies.  A great article about this can be found here. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first Captain America, I was totally blown away by Captain America: Winter Soldier.  There were sooo many things in the movie that tickled my ‘hidden history’ bone, not least of which was the obvious ‘Operation Paperclip’ reference, but the most blatant theme was the idea that an evil force had so completely infiltrated an American based intelligence agency, the CIA, S.H.I.E.L.D, that they were practically dictating the country’s foreign policy and even had a plan to kill every single dissenter/whistleblower/activist on the planet at once, which was thankfully stopped at the last second by the good Cap. Considering how much effort the CIA has put into maintaining a positive image of itself and the military at large, thanks to it’s former inside man Chase Brandon (read Reclaiming Parkland for more on that), I was a bit surprised by some of the admissions dropped in the most recent Marvel movies. Iron Man 3 anybody?  I mean c’mon, they literally said that the ‘Mandarin’, Osama Bin Laden and Gaddafi were just puppets set up by a shadowy group of men to put on a terror show to justify military intervention in otherwise sovereign nations, but enough on that. Go back to sleep. Now the latest foray into ‘truth come to screen’ arrives in the form of the evil Hydra having infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D since the end of WWII. Based on numerous declassified documents and books written by researchers much more studied than I am, the idea that a real life Hydra has compromised our National Security institutions is much closer to the truth than most people feel comfortable believing. Reinhard Gehlen: The Real Life Red Skull? Reinhard Gehlen is somewhat of an enigma. Little is known about him and less has been written down, (perhaps by design?) but for those intrepid researchers who’ve pursued the truth about this man, what has been uncovered paints a foreboding picture of this Senior Nazi official and his relationship to America’s own Central Intelligence Agency.

Reinhard Gehlen

Reinhard Gehlen

Throughout WWII, Brigadier General Gehlen was chief of the Third Reich’s “Foreign Armies East” and one of Hitler’s premier intelligence officers used in covert warfare against the Russians.[1] After the war, Gehlen was pursued as a war criminal by the Kremlin, but ultimately turned himself into American hands in the hopes that he could get a better deal for his wealth of intelligence on the Russians.  He turned out to be right. I can’t speak for what inspired the original Red Skull character in the Captain America comics, but the movie drew some noticeable parallels between fiction and reality. Johann Shmidt is head of a secretive splinter cell within the Nazi war machine, Hydra. Gehlen was in command of a secret network of spies and espionage assets known as, wait for it… “The Gehlen Organization”.  Okay, not exactly intimidating but if it’s any consolation, the Organization later became known by American military intelligence as “The Org”, which isn’t much better but it’s something. History, FYI it’s kind of boring sometimes.

Red Skull or Reinhard?

Red Skull or Reinhard?

It is interesting to note that the likeness of Hugo Weaving in Capt. America  is very similar to that of Gehlen, from the high receding hair line to the sharp features and beady eyes.  If it weren’t for the fact that Weaving is such an awesome actor with a long line of great movies under his belt, including The Matrix and Lord of the Rings, I’d almost think he was… a Nazi… duh duh duuuuuuh. The Org: Is it Hydra? The Gehlen Organization was Reinhard Gehlen’s vast network of spies, agitators and otherwise unpleasant N’er dowells whom he used primarily against the Russian forces throughout the war. Now, unlike Hydra, there is no real indication that the Org intended to violently overthrow Hitler or the Nazi party in pursuit of Tesseract technology, again, boring, but that’s about where the differences end.

‘The sparrow-faced man in the battle uniform of an American general clambered down the steps of the U.S. Army transport plane upon its arrival at Washington National Airport. It was August 24, 1945, two weeks after the surrender of Japan, three months after the German capitulation. The general was hustled into a van with no windows and whisked to Fort Hunt outside the capital. There he was attended by white-jacketed orderlies and, the next morning, fitted with a dark-grey business suit from one of Washington’s swankiest men’s stores. General Reinhard Gehlen was ready to cut a deal.’ [2]

The aforementioned Operation Paperclip paved the way for a slew of Nazi scientists and officers to be peaceably integrated into the American Military Industrial Complex.

‘As the Cold War developed during 1946, American intelligence officials found themselves lacking recent experience with Soviet intelligence activities and decided to use German experts on the Soviet Union-even though some may have been war criminals.’[3]

Of course not all the Nazi scientists were cruel and sadistic masterminds behind the Holocaust, Wernher von Braun for example, but many covertly maintained their loyalty to the Nazi cause.  So even though these guys didn’t exactly like America, they had a much bigger beef with Russia and essentially threw in their chips with the side they believed would inherit the earth. They viewed communism as something ‘unnatural’ to be cleansed from the earth, much like how Fox News pundits view liberals, women and poor people today, but that’s neither here nor there.

Allen Dulles: Spymaster Extraordinaire

Allen Dulles: Spymaster Extraordinaire

That being said, the phrase ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ was an apt description of the situation at this time.  Allen Dulles, the Director of as well as the one who essentially crafted the CIA into what it is today, was, for all intents and purposes, a fascist legitimate business man.   Having been one of the senior partners at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, he and his brother John Foster Dulles, viewed the post war world as a resource rich playground for corporate interests and as such, took the CIA from it’s stated mission of gathering and organizing intelligence,[4] and turned it into a covert military arm of Corporate America.  Nick Fury, he is not. The perverse relationship between the CIA and The Org essentially allowed the Agency to adapt Nazi spying and propaganda techniques to infiltrate and overthrow Nationalist governments like Iran and Guatamala, thus securing precious resources for Western business interests, earning the CIA the nickname Corporate Interests of America. Now I will grant some concessions to Marvel on this point. S.H.I.E.L.D can almost be considered a stand in for the CIA in the movies and show, but is different enough to not directly implicate the Agency.  That subtle detail is partly why I think the filmmakers were allowed to get away with some of the things they did. For example, S.H.I.E.L.D doesn’t exist in a vacuum within the Marvel universe. The CIA as well as the FBI and other agencies still exist independently, and I mean let’s face it, in a world with super humans running around opening doorways to other realms and unleashing alien invasions on us, somebody has to deal with it, but I digest.  Mmm, onion rings. The filmmakers can get past the Pentagon censors because it’s not actually the ‘CIA’ or the ‘American Military’ that has been infiltrated by Nazi sympathizing Hydra scum. It’s S.H.I.E.L.D, which is a fictional agency, but c’mon, we both know they really represent the CIA. As I said before, I can’t speak for the creators intent or the inspiration for the evil organization known as Hydra, maybe someone out there knows more about this. But considering America’s own documented history and it’s dealing with Nazi scientists and/or war criminals, there are some scary possibilities that exist.  Considering how a country that claims to be a beacon for ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ has enacted covert overthrows and overt wars of aggression against resource rich nations since the end of WW II, and continually stripped away civil liberties while spying on its own citizens to such a degree that Orwell’s grave rolling has surely awoken him from the cold slumber of death, I’m more or less inclined to think there is some truth to the Hydra threat. And that turrifies me.index But fortunately, we have activist filmmakers and government insiders willing to risk their careers, and in some cases their lives, to shed light on the dirty cancerous laundry that eats away at our country’s foundation.  So long as there are people out there daring to stand up for truth and justice, I have hope. Do I need to say it? I will. Avengers. Assemble. -K.R. Krause


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