ByTom Bacon, writer at Creators.co
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

Welcome to the Framework: a madhouse-mirror virtual reality created by the arcane science of the Darkhold! The mid-season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 came to a dramatic end, with Daisy and Simmons plugging their minds into this virtual reality in the hopes of rescuing their friends. What they never suspected was how immersive a world Aida and Doctor Radcliffe have created — or that their friends' lives have been dramatically rewritten.

We know that the Framework has rewritten history one man and woman at a time, focusing on the deepest regrets of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Aida and Radcliffe. This has created a strange, twisted world in which, incredibly, rule! Now, the in a none-too-subtle nod to the kind of propaganda posters you saw in the Third Reich, Marvel's teasing just what life in this world is really like...

A New World Order

A disturbing poster. [Credit: ABC]
A disturbing poster. [Credit: ABC]

Most fans have theorized that the Framework reality was more or less identical to our own — up to a major point of divergence. A common theory is that the divergence was during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where, in the Framework reality, Hydra successfully took over the world. This poster hints that our theories are right; after all, it refers to Hydra as the 'New World Order', suggesting they only recently rose to power.

Significantly, though, this poster suggests that Hydra's power-base isn't entirely stable. You don't produce poster like this unless you still your opponents, and there may even be a nascent rebel movement. Of course, if we're right that Project Insight was successful in the Framework reality, how are these rebels still alive? It's possible that some, at least, faked their own deaths in order to go into hiding — perhaps explaining Simmons's grave...

The Inhuman Threat

An ominous warning. [Credit: ABC]
An ominous warning. [Credit: ABC]

The closing scenes of the "LMD" arc assured us that the were still part of the Framework reality; perhaps in this world, the last vestiges of S.H.I.E.L.D. released the Terrigen in order to introduce a wild card into the mix. Whatever the truth may be, Hydra is clearly terrified of the idea of ordinary men and women developing powers; after all, they could easily become a very real challenge to Hydra's authority.

Fascist regimes have always been characterized by a fear of 'other', using a perceived threat or foe as a tool to unify their nations. In this case, it's clear that the Inhumans have become Hydra's scapegoat. If we're right about the timelines diverging most dramatically after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it makes sense; even in the main timeline we've seen Inhumans hated and feared, tarred as "alien" and "dangerous" as a result of the Chitauri invasion of New York.

They don't mince their words. [Credit: ABC]
They don't mince their words. [Credit: ABC]

These posters give a dramatic sense of the paranoid world Hydra is building. Because any man or woman could become an Inhuman, they're focused on indoctrinating everyone to be afraid of the Inhumans — and to report anyone, any friend, colleague, or relative, you suspect of being an Inhuman. After all, "Harboring one betrays us all."

All are expected to do their part. [Credit: ABC]
All are expected to do their part. [Credit: ABC]

As we see, the rise of the Inhumans has allowed Hydra to neatly divide the world into two groups: humans and Inhumans. And Hydra has positioned itself as the champion of humanity. Of course, there's a beautiful irony to this; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 revealed the ancient conspiracy that underpins Hydra, one geared towards bringing Hive (the first Inhuman) to Earth. As always, fascist regimes are twisted things, denying their own nature in order to weave their simplistic narratives of fear and hatred.

Notice the euphemism 'sanitation'. Again, fascist regimes have always delighted in euphemisms, but I strongly suspect that 'sanitation' is quite a brutal, dangerous experience. Interestingly enough, the word may also be a subtle nod to an authoritarian political party that flourished in Poland during the inter-war years; Sanation may never have gained political power, but it exerted real political force in Poland, advocating anti-democratic practices in the belief that this would 'heal' the nation. The name reflected this belief (it derives from the Latin for 'healing'), but it's often been mistranslated 'Sanitation' by English and American historians.

A clear division. [Credit: ABC]
A clear division. [Credit: ABC]

The same threats are repeated in this final poster, which reinforces the simple message of Hydra; that humanity is locked in a war against the Inhumans, and that Hydra's forces are humanity's champions. Every man and woman is expected to play their part, reporting any potential Inhumans, and presenting identification immediately when asked. The fact that's stressed on two of the posters hints at just how authoritarian a regime Hydra has built.

See also:

We're eagerly awaiting the return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on April 4th, when we'll be plunged deep into the Framework reality. Poor Daisy and Simmons have no idea what they're in for, and we're only beginning to get a sense of it. That said, the fact Hydra is investing so much time and effort in propaganda is in a sense reassuring; it suggests their attempt to brainwash the world has only just begun...

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