Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicked off its seventh and final season last night, and it wasted no time in setting up the enormous stakes for the resurrected Phil Coulson and his team this year. The gang have had to travel back to the 1930s in order to stop the Chronicoms from changing the past so that Earth is weaker and vulnerable to an invasion in the future. Their big gambit is preventing the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself.
As the trailers revealed, though, the Chronicoms’ plan has an extra wrinkle our heroes weren’t expecting: the aliens are going to destroy HYDRA in order to stop S.H.I.E.L.D. from ever being founded. And herein lies a massive retcon to established MCU history, as we’ve previously been told that HYDRA infected S.H.I.E.L.D. after it was formed, not that HYDRA was behind it all along.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was obviously where the truth about HYDRA infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. came out. The A.I. Zola told Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff: “After the war, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded and I was recruited.” He continued: “The new HYDRA grew. A beautiful parasite inside S.H.I.E.L.D.” But AoS season 7 is now revealing that the truth is much more insidious than that.
You might consider this retcon another example of how AoS has drifted away from the the continuity of the MCU movies, but to be fair, there are ways to make it fit. We know HYDRA has different factions, with the various leaders not necessarily sharing information with one another. Zola may simply have been unaware of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s true origins, then. As for who the HYDRA faction behind its foundation could be, Agent Carter season 2 introduced the Council of Nine, a secret cabal out for world domination that was hinted to be part of HYDRA itself.
There is an official Agent Carter crossover coming up, remember, so maybe that connection could be explored as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 continues?