Captain America: New World Order - the comic book history of the evil organization

Captain America: New World Order logo
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

A 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.

Interestingly enough, despite the Marvel Comics history of the term, which ties into the Red Skull - who you might expect as the villain of a Captain America film - it's another long-lost MCU supervillain who has been confirmed as the villain for the movie, Tim Blake Nelson's Samuel Sterns/The Leader.

In Marvel Comics, the New World Order is the name of a villainous organization headed up by none other than the Red Skull - who, so far, hasn't been named as an inclusion in the movie. But the Leader isn't a totally left-field choice to lead a secret organization of world domination, as that's exactly how he got his start as a Hulk villain.

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?

The New World Order in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Taking its name from a problematic real-world conspiracy term which is widely considered to be anti-semitic because of its roots in propaganda material, 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, 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 can match the Hulk's strength, and the psychic mutant Mentallo who takes control of his mind on behalf of the Red Skull.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

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

Red Skull in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

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 by having Xavier's X-gene implanted in his own brain.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

This came to a head in the 2014 story Axis, 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 simplest 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, 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.

Of course, with the Leader now apparently involved in the MCU New World Order, those previous Hulk connections may become even more important - though nothing is precluding Marvel Studios from also including the Red Skull in the film.

The New World Order in the MCU

Captain America: New World Order logo

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

We'll be 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, the inclusion of the Leader as the apparent, well, leader of the conspiracy group may twist things up a bit in the group's translation to the MCU - to say nothing of how the real-world nature of the term "New World Order" may somehow be addressed in the story.

In his earliest appearances, the Leader was the head of a secret conspiracy focused on world domination, and considering how often the villain has often used mental manipulation and mind control himself, it's fairly easy to see how he could slot into the space occupied in comics by the Red Skull.

Sam Wilson as Captain America in the MCU

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

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.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)