In 2017’s “Secret Empire” (by Nick Spencer, Steve McNiven, Rod Reis, Daniel Acuna, Andrea Sorrentino, and Travis Lanham), Marvel debuted an alternate version of Captain America, one who was created by the Red Skull. The Nazi villain manipulated the powers of the Cosmic Cube to rewrite reality and replace the true Cap with a version who was loyal to Hydra. The world believed the imposter Captain America was the real thing, all while he was working as Hydra Supreme of the fascist regime. The evil Steve Rogers (dubbed “Stevil” by readers) nearly succeeded in his goals, mind-controlling heroes and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, including brutally killing Black Widow and Rick Jones while convincing Deadpool to kill Agent Phil Coulson.
Marvel Comics faced intense backlash when it was “revealed” that Captain America was secretly a Nazi during “Secret Empire.” An infamous panel image of him saying “Hail Hydra” was so controversial, it made mainstream media headlines and resulted in death threats toward writer Nick Spencer, as many fans believed Marvel was retconning the hero permanently to make him go from punching Nazis to being one. Not helping matters were the real-life events unfolding across the United States in 2017, including the rise of the Alt-Right and the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally occurring around the same time.
Thankfully, by the end of the event, the real Captain America was freed from his captivity outside of reality. Meanwhile, Hydra Cap was imprisoned before eventually being killed off. But while the character’s story appeared to have reached a permanent end, he has just been resurrected as a new hero-in-disguise in the Marvel Universe.