This week, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns for its third "pod", intriguingly titled 'Agents of Hydra.' Our heroes have plunged into the Framework: a twisted virtual reality in which Hydra stands triumphant. In a fascinating twist, executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have revealed that this narrative arc will introduce a classic villain: Madame Hydra!
Here's What We Know About Madame Hydra!
Otherwise known as Viper, the character of Madame Hydra was first created by Jim Steranko way back in 1969. Envisioned as #Hydra's ultimate leader, the character has no powers — but that doesn't make her any less lethal. Although she's typically been a Captain America villain, Madame Hydra has taken on a lot of other key #Marvel figures; so much so, that the character rights seem to be co-owned between Marvel and Fox. Viper appeared in 2013's The Wolverine, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova.
Now, it seems, Madame Hydra is making her way into the #MCU. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. bringing Hydra back in a big way, the show's adding a key Hydra element into the mix. As the showrunners told Entertainment Weekly:
"Madame Hydra is a villain with the perfect combo of strength, sexy, and scary."
Intriguingly, though, the Framework's greatest leader is played by none other than Mallory Janson. That will be a familiar name to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans, as the actress has played both the LMD Aida and the terminally-ill Agnes Kitsworth, who Aida was modelled after.
How Does this Tie in With Aida?
Casting Mallory Janson for the role makes it abundantly clear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has big plans for Madame Hydra, and that the character is somehow central to the main arc. Is it possible that, in the Framework reality, Agnes Kitsworth has somehow become the ruler of all? Given Radcliffe's entire goal when creating the Framework was to save his old love from death by creating an artificial reality for her to live in, that would make sense.
At the same time, though, I think a far more likely scenario is that Madame Hydra is actually Aida herself; that a portion of Aida's mind supervises and controls the Framework, and that it has taken the persona of Madame Hydra in order to integrate with this warped reality. If that's the case, our heroes should be very careful whenever they interact with Madame Hydra; she could literally be in complete control of the entire reality.
If that's the case, one of the teasers before this latest mid-season break could make a lot of sense. In the Framework reality, Fitz seems to be a successful businessman, and was glimpsed getting out of a car, holding the hand of an unseen woman. We know it's not Simmons; she's (at least believed) dead in the Framework. Is it possible that this is Madame Hydra? Aida always seemed rather taken by Fitz, and I can easily imagine her weaving herself into Fitz's rewritten life.
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All in all, the addition of Madame Hydra is a promise that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about to tell a radical, powerful story, and one steeped in comic book lore. Casting Mallory Janson for the role raises a lot of intriguing possibilities, and hints that inside the Framework, the threat of Aida could be even greater...
Do you think Fitz and Madame Hydra are a couple in the Framework?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly; Poll Image Credit: Kris Anka)