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“Hail Hydra” is a catchphrase taken from the motto of the fictional terrorist organization Hydra (alternative spelling: HYDRA) in the Marvel Universe. While the quote has appeared in a number of Marvel franchises since 1965, it spawned an image macro series of two characters, one whispering to the other, shortly after the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April 2014.
“Hail Hydra” is the salute used by the fictional terrorist organization of the Marvel Universe named Hydra and the opening line of the group’s official motto, which reads: “Hail Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off one limb and two more shall take its place! We serve the Supreme Hydra, as the world shall soon serve us!” It was first used by the organization’s members in the very same issue of Hydra’s debut appearance, Strange Tales #135 published in August 1965, which also marked the introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D., the counter-terrorist organization nemesis of Hydra.
On April 4th, 2014, the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise and sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), was released. In the film, Captain America discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by Hydra decades ago. The scene parodied by this meme features the reveal to the audience that the character of Senator Stern (portrayed by Garry Shandling) is a Hydra member when he whispers to fellow agent Jasper Sitwell (portrayed by Maximiliano Hernández) the Hydra salute after a meeting.
On April 6th, Twitter user Kevin M tweeted out the first image macro, which shows Sesame Street character Ernie whispering “Hail Hydra,” to Bert.
#HailHydra #WinterSoldier #AgentsofSHIELD @clarkgregg @ChrisEvans @SamuelLJackson @MingNa @AgentsofSHIELD pic.twitter.com/Vv566wwDlvApril 6, 2014
In less than 24 hours, the hashtag #hailhydra was tweeted out over 2,200 times. On April 6th actor Clark Gregg, who plays Phil Coulson, a big fan of Captain America in several Marvel films, retweeted an example of the meme featuring “My Little Pony.” On April 7th, MTV published an article titled “‘Hail HYDRA’ Is The Best Meme From ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’” which explains the meme and collects some of examples. On Tumblr, users tag their examples as well,with one popular post featuring the original Sesame Street example gaining over 2,000 notes in less than 24 hours. The same day AMC’s official Twitter account tweeted out examples of the meme including ones featuring stills from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Lion King and The Dark Knight Rises.