Secret Empire was divisive the moment Cap uttered the words "Hail Hydra", but the ending divided fans as well. For those who think they could have ended it better, you might want to hear what Nick Spencer has to say first.
Spoilers incoming for the ending of Secret Empire, so if you haven't read the issue yet you've been warned.
On a recent episode of the Word Balloon podcast, Secret Empire writer Nick Spencer reflected on the now finished Marvel event. Specifically, he addressed those who debate the book's ending, and why some would call it unsurprising.
"Clearly, we are not looking to ruin what has become a national symbol and one of Marvel's most storied characters, but also, an intellectual property that is worth untold billions of dollars," Spencer told John Siuntres. "Like no, we definitely have a plan for how he gets out of this unscathed."
For those who have their versions of how Secret Empire "should" have ended, Spencer explains the root problem with most of those theories.
"One of the things you get to hear is "how I would have ended it" kind of things and so many of what people seem to argue would be this great ending to this would ruin the character irreparably forever," Spencer said. "Like it really would. Like if you actually pinned all this stuff on him, on the Steve that we all know and love. If he were in any way complicit, you could never come back from that, and so the key here was making sure no matter what else you did, no matter how bad or good the story was, that you made sure that at the end of this the Steve Rogers Captain America, the character that we've all been knowing and loving since the forties, could come out of this and still be that character."
You might wonder if there was ever an alternate ending or version to this story, but Spencer puts that to rest as well.
"There was never any version of this where that was not the case, because who wants that on their tombstone. That's the nightmare," Spencer said.
No one really wants to be the writer that "ruined" a character, so the caution is understandable. Some would argue why do this at all then, but if you don't ever push those boundaries things tend to get a bit stale. You're never going to please everyone anyway, so why not take some chances right?
For some context, Secret Empire ended with the final battle between two Captain Americas. Hydra Cap stood against the newly revived original Cap, brought back by Kobik the sentient Cosmic Cube. The original Cap existed as a memory in Kobik's mind, remaining there after she transformed the world into Hydra's image. It was the original Cap who managed to bring Hydra Cap and his dark regime down, doing so on live tv so that everyone could see the battle play out.
The comments of the ending being too predictable have merit, and it would have been nice to have some surprising moment in not only the last issue but the final three issues. Still, if the point was to get him to a place of dealing with scars on his legacy while keeping him clean in the process, the series did manage to make it happen.
Secret Empire #10 is in stores now.
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