The New World Order is coming to the MCU.
Sorry ’90s WCW fans, we don’t mean the unstoppable wrestling stable. We’re talking about the officially announced fourth Captain America film, Captain America: New World Order.
And naturally, there’s some particularly interesting comic book history attached to the term ‘New World Order’ in the Marvel Universe – which could directly signal the return of a long lost Captain America MCU villain.
See, in Marvel Comics, the New World Order is the name of a villainous organization headed up by none other than the Red Skull.
And though Red Skull did appear in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame as the damned guardian of the home of the Soul Stone, he’s been absent from Earth as a supervillain since Captain America went in the ice at the tail end of WWII.
So what might the incorporation of the terminology New World Order into the Captain America mythos signal for the MCU? Here’s what comics have to say.
What is the New World Order?
Taking its name from the often problematic real-world conspiracy term, the New World Order is a villainous organization founded by the Red Skull with the intent to take over the world (the usual fascist Red Skull plot, naturally). Interestingly enough, despite Red Skull’s involvement, the New World Order actually spent most of its short-lived existence working against a different Avenger entirely, the Hulk.
At the time, following 1992’s Incredible Hulk #400 (opens in new tab)the Hulk, in the early days of his ‘Professor Hulk’ persona, was working with a group of super-powered beings known as the Pantheon who were dedicated to engineering world peace.
Acting as their agent, Hulk travels to Brazil to investigate the New World Order fortress, which has come to the attention of the Pantheon. There, he meets a handpicked team of villains employed by Red Skull including the unstoppable Juggernaut, who is able to match the Hulk’s strength and the psychic mutant Mentallo who takes control of his mind on behalf of the Red Skull.
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Hulk briefly falls under Red Skull’s control (via Mentallo’s psychic machinations), though he eventually breaks free with the help of the Avengers (whose roster at the time included recent MCU additions Black Knight, Sersi of the Eternals, Vision in his colorless form, and Hercules) and decimates their base, sending the Red Skull and the rest of his mostly unseen council of New World Order leadership into hiding.
The New World Order briefly became a semi-regular threat to the Hulk, though Red Skull’s participation in the group quickly ended.
Oddly enough, after the departure of the Red Skull, the New World Order became somewhat more neutral, even once bringing in the Hulk’s longtime ally Rick Jones to help Hulk escape the control of the villain Apocalypse, who temporarily made Hulk his Horseman of Death.
Shortly thereafter, they disbanded, and haven’t been seen or referenced since.
The New World Order in the Marvel Universe
Though the New World Order came and went from the Marvel Universe fairly quickly, their legacy has played out in interesting – and occasionally devastating – ways in the decades since.
Hulk’s first battle with the New World Order was one of the Red Skull’s first forays into mind controlling superheroes. Red Skull later honed those abilities to keen use after stealing the telepathy and mind control powers of Charles Xavier following Xavier’s death in Avengers Vs. X-Men (opens in new tab) by having Xavier’s X-gene implanted in his own brain.
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This cam to a head in the 2014 story Axis (opens in new tab)in which Doctor Doom and the Scarlet Witch conduct a spell that inadvertently switches the allegiances of most of Marvel’s heroes and villains, making good guys bad and bad guys good (in the simplet of terms).
Though Red Skull lost his mind control power in that story, he later used the power of the fabled Cosmic Cube, known in the MCU as the Tesseract, which in comic books can rewrite reality, to subvert Steve Rogers, replacing him with a Cosmic Cube duplicate whose rewritten history included Steve Rogers having always been a secret Hydra agent.
That story culminated in Secret Empire (opens in new tab)in which Steve revealed his Hydra allegiance and attacked the Avengers, launching a nearly successful bid to conquer the world himself – though he was stopped at the last minute by the return of the non-Hydra Steve Rogers, teaming up with Sam Wilson, who was the current Captain America of the time.
The New World Order in the MCU
We’ll be totally upfront: it’s entirely possible that the movie title Captain America: New World Order doesn’t actually involve the comic book group of the same name.
But given the comic villain group’s connection to Red Skull, and the likelihood that Sam Wilson’s first starring movie as Captain America will likely grapple with some aspect of Steve Rogers’ legacy, we’re betting there’s a good chance the New World Order will be involved in the movie some way.
That said, there are some terrifying implications of the idea of the Red Skull somehow returning with mind control powers in the MCU – especially when placed alongside the narrative Sam Wilson experienced as Captain America as a result of the Skull’s machinations in Secret Empire.
And there’s also the likelihood that Captain America: New World Order might connect to the story of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine recruiting John Walker to her own secret team as USAgent (a story which may itself connect to the upcoming Thunderbolts movie).
She’s indicated she’s working for some even more secretive employers – perhaps the New World Order? The Red Skull DID once trick John Walker into working for him in Walker’s brief time replacing Steve Rogers as Captain America.
Whatever happens next, just invoking the loaded New World Order title seems to indicate Marvel Studios is ready to put Sam Wilson through his paces in his first full outing as Captain America.
Captain America: New World Order is due out in theaters in 2024.
Read up on the best Captain America stories of all time.