Could HYDRA return in ‘Captain America: New World Order?’

Image via Marvel Studios/Disney Plus

In spring 2021, on the very day that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier aired its season finale, it was reported that Captain America 4 was on the way, with Anthony Mackie starring as the new Sentinel of Liberty, Sam Wilson. It took until this July for Marvel to confirm this open secret, however, revealing that the movie will release in May 2024 and go by the intriguing title, Captain America: New World Order.

Apart from Mackie’s involvement and Julius Onah attached to direct, as based on a script from Falcon scribes Malcolm Spellman and Dalan Musson, nothing else has been confirmed about Cap 4 to date, so it’s up to us to speculate on what challenges Sam might face in the film. Well, clearly, he’s going to have his work cut out for him as the title heavily indicates that some sinister organization will attempt, or maybe even succeed in their plan, to take over the planet and establish a “new world order.”

And when you talk about a sinister organization with an eye on world domination in the context of Cap, only one name comes to mind: Steve Rogers’ old nemeses, HYDRA. So could HYDRA make a big comeback in Captain America 4? To answer that, first we need to remind ourselves of the cult’s MCU history so far.

Where did we last see HYDRA?

Image via ABC/Marvel Television

HYDRA was established in Captain America: The First Avenger as the Nazis’ scientific division which its chief, Johann Schmidt AKA Red Skull, reorganized into a cult outside of Hitler’s control. Despite Red Skull’s death, HYDRA lived on and, under the guidance of Schmidt’s former right-hand man Dr. Zola, was able to infiltrate all levels of the American government, including S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America: The Winter Soldier saw Steve Rogers and his allies finally expose the truth of HYDRA to the world.

Given its multi-headed nature, however, many HYDRA factions survived, such as Baron Strucker’s stronghold in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Phil Coulson and his team fought many more surviving HYDRA leaders across that show’s seven seasons. HYDRA were also part of the bidding war for Pym Particles in Ant-Man. However, by the time of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, HYDRA was basically extinct, with Bucky Barnes aiding the government in bringing in the last few remaining HYDRA personnel.

How could HYDRA return?

Image via Marvel Studios

So if the beast of HYDRA has finally been slain then how could they return in Captain America 4? Well, the future of HYDRA might well rest with its original founder, the Red Skull himself. Following Avengers: Infinity War, Schmidt could potentially be freed from his enforced role as Guardian of the Soul Stone on Vormir, which means he may head back to Earth to pick up where he left off in World War II.

Ross Marquand, who has taken over from Hugo Weaving as the character, has even indicated that something is in the works featuring the supervillain. “I really feel like there is a good chance we will see Red Skull again,” The Walking Dead star told The Illuminerdi at Comic-Con. He might be talking about New World Order, or possibly just another cameo in an episode of What If…?.

Image via Marvel Comics

Alternatively, if Red Skull isn’t back in Captain America 4, then another member of the cursed Schmidt family could take the reins of HYDRA instead. Enter Sin. In the comics, Sinthea Schmidt is Red Skull’s loyal daughter who has aimed to emulate her father’s wicked work many times over the decades, often coming closer to victory than her demented dad ever did.

The MCU’s always in need of more female antagonists, so Sin would be a great villain for New World Order, introducing a fresh character into the mix — but one with ties to the franchise’s past — in a way that would bring the Captain America franchise full circle. There’s a lot of potential that could come out of HYDRA emerging from the ashes in Anthony Mackie’s first solo venture, then, and it would it be a sin if Marvel wasted that opportunity.

Captain America: New World Order is scheduled for release on May 3, 2024.