(Warning: the following contains SPOILERS for pretty much every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far - including Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man - as well as potentially for Captain America: Civil War. Proceed with whatever level of caution your natural SPOILER-aversion dictates...)
When it comes to widespread, murderous, Nazi-founded secret organizations, they don't come much more unpleasant (or ubiquitous) than the Marvel Cinematic Universe's group of S.H.I.E.L.D-infiltrating zealots. What's more, over the past few years - most particularly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Hydra has become one of the most pressing threats for our cinematic heroes, with appearances across the MCU.
Those appearances, though, might just be the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out:
It Seems Hydra Has Had a Secret Plan All Along
Or, at least, that's what a compelling new fan theory by intrepid redditor Xskills suggests.
While Hydra has seemingly been bent on global domination (and the general spreading of chaos), y'see, it seems they've also been up to something a little more practical. Something, in fact, that not only explains why they're so often getting entangled with our heroes, but also connects pretty much the entire (Earth-bound) part of the MCU.
Hydra Has Been Trying to Create Its Own Supervillains This Whole Time
After the fall of the Red Skull (above), it seems, Hydra's regrouping as a covert organization (as seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Agent Carter) didn't simply take the form of the active subversion of global political interests.
Instead, it was an active attempt to create exactly the sort of superhuman agents that had - in the form of Captain America - foiled the organizations plans back in World War Two.
The Capturing of the Winter Soldier...
The Covert Subversion of Stark Industries...
And, of course...
The Attempted Acquisition of Hank Pym's Original Ant-Man Suit
...Hydra spent much of the decades leading up to the mid-2000's actively trying to create its own super-soldiers.
That, it seems, would likely explain:
The Corruption of Obadiah Stane
Who would inevitably have made an obvious point of contact for the sale of Stark products to Hydra.
And Then, Iron Man Happened
And suddenly, the world had its own superheroes once again...and Hydra was forced to step up its game.
What came next, from...
Justin Hammer's Attempts to Replicate Tony Stark's Work in Iron Man 2
(And, crucially, his utilization of Ivan Vanko in the process), through to...
Aldrich Killian's Extremis Bio-Tech in Iron Man 3
And even perhaps (without Loki's knowledge)...
The Analysis of the Tesseract in The Avengers
...all fits into what looks more-and-more like a coordinated plot by Hydra to create a superhuman army capable of assisting them in taking over the world - without giving away the organizations existence in the process.
By using the likes of Stane, Hammer and Killian as proxies, Hydra was able to keep its existence secret.
Until, that is:
Its Infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Revealed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
At which point Hydra was forced underground, only to be hunted to the point of near-extinction by the Avengers.
Except, of course:
Baron Strucker Kept Pursuing Hydra's Primary Goal
Which, alongside the analysis of artifacts like the Chitauri Scepter, also included Hydra's greatest success in the field of superhuman creation yet:
Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch Were the Pinnacle of Hydra's Achievement
And, had Ultron not become involved, there's a pretty solid chance that they would have been picked up by another Hydra cell before too long, and used as active Hydra agents, much as Bucky Barnes was as The Winter Soldier.
Hydra was pretty much destroyed by the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron though, right?
Well, not so much. Y'see:
Hydra Were Still Chasing Superhuman Weaponry in Ant-Man
After all, the revelation that Mitch Carson - who attempted to purchase a whole lot of Yellowjacket tech from Darren Cross - was working for Hydra confirms that not only does the organization have active cells operating, but that they're still aiming to make the dream of Hydra having its own supervillains a reality.
It Seems They Finally Have the Super-Weapons They've Been After
After all, the end of Ant-Man saw Carson escape with a sample of the 'Cross Particles', meaning that Hydra now likely has the ability to do pretty much whatever Ant-Man can...which, as it turns out, is a whole lot.
Come Captain America: Civil War, Hydra Could Finally Have the Superhuman Army Its Been Waiting for
Specifically, there's a good chance that we'll see a Hydra cell led by Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo, with the newly empowered Crossbones at his side, and (possibly) an army of Ant-Men lying in wait.
Or, in other words? Thing might be about to get seriously bad for Cap and the gang...and Ant-Man might be the only guy who can help...
What do you reckon, though?