Note: There be spoilers here. Ye have been warned.
In the Marvel comic world a few decades ago, a Civil War broke out among the superheroes. For the sake of national security, SHIELD (under Tony Stark) has decided that all superheroes should release their true identities, along with other key initiatives that increase security and safety at the cost of individual liberties. Captain America (Steve Rogers) leads the fight against this, soon turning into a Civil War between superheroes. When an innocent bystander dies in front of Capt America, he realizes that he cannot continue a battle that would ostensibly kill millions of innocents. So, he surrenders, only to be murdered while in handcuffs. Behind all of this shenanigans is Captain America’s old nemesis from WW2, the Red Skull and his secret organization, Hydra. They get their name from the mythological Greek monster, where if you cut off its head, two more will grow in its place.
In the modern world of movies, Marvel is recreating this concept of a SHIELD that has been infiltrated heavily by members of Hydra. (Spoiler Alert). In the new Captain America movie, Hydra forces Nick Fury underground and takes over major portions of SHIELD. Fury wants to remove Hydra from SHIELD, but Steve Rogers (Capt America) determines the only way to destroy Hydra is to destroy SHIELD. Apparently, previous films lead up to this dilemma. You’ll remember that in the first Capt America film, the Tesseract, a stone of power owned by the Norse god Odin (Thor’s father) is obtained by the Red Skull. Captain America’s plane goes down into frozen animation for decades with the Tesseract, until recovered by Nick Fury. In the Avengers movie, the Tesseract has been used by SHIELD for various energy and power experiments, and then used by Loki to open a portal to an alien invasion of New York City. Unknown previously, it is the Hydra within SHIELD that has sought these events. Marvel’s own 9/11 event causes the people to insist on greater security and protection: even though the danger was created by the same agency that is supposed to protect!
ABC’s Agents of SHIELD is also engaged in this same collapse, with Hydra now coming out of hiding and forcing agents to choose sides, and never certain who might be a double agent.
It is interesting how art imitates life. Our own actions after 9/11 sought to increase safety and security with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act. Bush’s doctrine of preemption or “get the bad guys before they get you” was established. Enhanced interrogation techniques were developed. All of this in the name of protecting our nation. These decisions may have been made with the best of intentions at the time.
Thirteen years later, we can see the results of those actions. Security has increased to the point that the NSA now knows all of our personal phone numbers, the IRS is punishing whomever they deem to be a bad guy, the CIA is killing Americans with drones, and the Justice Department seems to be lawless. Freedoms are lost and more are in peril, because of our desire to be safe. Whether our DHS/SHIELD has been infiltrated by a Hydra-like organization or this is the natural effect of a vast bureaucracy, who knows? But the end results are the same.
We can potentially see ties with the Book of Mormon’s Gadianton bands. They sought power, believing that their secret combinations were good. They made their oaths in the name of God, believing they were doing heaven and earth a favor by establishing their secret combinations. Crises were created by the Gadiantons (murder, coup-d’etat, war, intrigue) to keep Nephite and Lamanite governments off balance. Even prophet/governors, like Helaman, were often not able to divine who the bad guys were, until it was too late. Why did Captain Moroni require a big military that shored up security in the border lands, building cities where nomadic Lamanites once lived? It seems he sought to strengthen Nephite hands, but actually fed into the Lamanite belief that the Nephites were trying to take them over – leading to one of the longest and worst wars the Nephites had ever had. His actions of preemption may have allowed Gadiantons to take advantage (Amalickiah’s rise to power among the Lamanites comes to mind).
Are we seeing modern day Gadiantons infiltrating governments (including our own) and other organizations, using their abilities to destabilize families and cities, creating huge government bureaucracies within which they can hide themselves and their works? Do they think they are building a Utopian society over which they shall rule? Is it becoming so obvious that art is now imitating the real state of affairs in America and everywhere?