HYDRA made its MCU debut as a Nazi-affiliated scientific organization back in Captain America: The First Avenger. The evil group has since been exposed to have spent decades hiding within SHIELD, but since then, HYDRA has been rather silent, with its only significant appearances coming in the Agents of SHIELD TV series - one which remains questionable in terms of its canonicity.
Even with HYDRA dismantled in the main MCU timeline, that's not to say that's the case for the rest of the Multiverse. After all, there are an endless number of universes. Fans got their closest peak yet into these many universes with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
For the most part, the plot was contained to just a few select universes, including the famous Earth-838 world which housed the film's Illuminati. However, one sequence saw Doctor Strange and America Chavez flying through universes to escape the Scarlet Witch's wrath, offering a peek at a paint-made reality, the Savage Land, and even a world ruled by HYDRA.
Doctor Strange 2 Reveals Hydra Easter Egg
Variety recently spoke with several of the VFX artists behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness who revealed details of previously unfound Easter eggs hidden in the film.
The article drew particular attention to a frame from the Multiverse's black-and-white world in which a blimp donning the Hydra symbol can be seen flying by.
The HYDRA World appears during Strange and America Chavez's flight through the Multiverse, with this being one of the many worlds to appear.
Luma senior VFX producer Michael Perdew went on to discuss the Gargantos fight from early in the film which his team worked on. Perdew revealed he had been "begging" to use the squid-like alien for some time, confirming his design to be an "allusion" to the character of Shuma-Gorath:
"I’ve been personally begging for this character for years, since about 2014. And the character in the comics has two names: Gargantos is a variant of another character called Shuma-Gorath. So if you see the design, it’s more an allusion to that character.”
HYDRA Continues to Impact the MCU
HYDRA had its strongest influence on the Captain America trilogy and the Agents of SHIELD TV series. Since both came to an end, the organization has been fairly absent in the MCU. For the most part, the Nazi-affiliated scientific group appears to have passed its peak after its integration into SHIELD was exposed in The Winter Soldier.
As the MCU moves on toward bigger threats, it's hard to imagine HYDRA seeing much of a comeback anytime soon, unless it perhaps plays a role in the upcoming Captain America 4. That being said, the organization is among the most important groups in the Marvel world, so it's exciting to see it still being referenced.
Within this particular universe, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness appears to be highlighting a reality in which HYDRA controls the world, presumably due to the Nazis instead achieving victory over the Allies at the end of World War ll.
Since this well-placed Easter egg has only just been found now, there may well be plenty more fun references hidden within Multiverse of Madness, a film with more potential to hide secrets than any other film in MCU history.
Who knows whether HYDRA will ever be back in the MCU, but for now, its latest cameo can be found in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is playing now in theaters worldwide.