Illustration by Max Fleishman

The ‘Hail Hydra’ meme runs deeper than any conspiracy

They even have Drake and Rihanna in their tentacles.


Gabe Bergado

Internet Culture

Published Sep 5, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 2:31 am CDT

One of the oldest and most insidious organizations of comic book villains also happens to be connected to one of the more everlasting memes to have graced the internet: Hail Hydra.

You’ve most definitely seen the meme floating around since its initial popularization in 2014. The phrase “Hail Hydra” is paired with an image of one person whispering something in another person’s ear.

Hail Hydra’s viral status derives from a scene in Captain America: Winter’s Soldier. The movie follows good ol’ Steve Rogers and Black Widow as they investigate what’s going on with their once entrusted organization S.H.I.E.L.D, which has turned on the heroes. They eventually figure out that HYDRA, a super evil organization, has secret agents planted in S.H.I.E.L.D. and are carrying out the plans of one of their lead officers.

In one scene, Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) has a meeting with Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez). Stern compliments Sitwell’s pin, and the two men embrace to say goodbye. That’s when Stern whispers into Sitwell’s ear, “Hail Hydra.” But it’s done so indelicately that it’s outright giggle-worthy, especially with the cut to Stern’s lips, just a smidgen away from Sitwell’s face. 

According to a Reddit thread on r/marvel, “Hail Hydra” has been the villainous group’s catchphrase for decades, ever since they debuted in Strange Tales #135 in August 1965. And we had heard the phrase in earlier Marvel movies. But this scene’s humorous conspicuousness sparked the meme.

In April 2014, when Winter Soldier came out, the denizens of the internet made fun of the scene with the meme. Any moment where whispering was observed became a “Hail Hydra” moment.

Sure, a couple of years have passed since the trend took off. But you can’t get rid of HYDRA just like that, if its constant presence in Marvel movies and shows is any indication. Its tentacles are far-reaching, creeping into those places you would least expect. Hell, they probably have more reach than the Illuminati.

So, of course, “Hail Hydra” has continued up through the current moment. Most recently, we found out that international music star Drake has pledged is allegiance to the group and is in cahoots with Rihanna to help HYDRA take over the world.

Thanks to the everlasting powers of the internet, we never really lose memes. During May 2016, Marvel introduced a storyline that revealed Captain America has been working for HYDRA all along. This caused a brilliant resurgence of the meme. 

In one comic panel of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, Cap says those two magic words. That scene has become the fodder for the meme remixes. Many of them just replace what was in the speech bubble with some other wild jargon. Others completely transform Captain himself.

Captain America says Hail Hydra Dump

At this rate, practically everyone’s in HYDRA. And while some might resist becoming part of the sinister group that has absorbed the likes of Champagne Papi and our beloved Captain America, at least they can enjoy the meme before HYDRA takes over the rest of the world.

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*First Published: Sep 5, 2016, 9:00 am CDT