Marvel has released a new teaser promoting an unspecified 2017 project with the title Secret Empire and an accompanying phrase "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand."
While the phrase might recall Seinfeld's George Costanza, the title Secret Empire would seemingly refer to the long-time Captain America villains of the same name.
The Secret Empire is a terrorist organization whose Marvel Comics history goes all the way back to the 60s. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the organization was originally foes of S.H.I.E.L.D., but in the 70s, Steve Rogers clashed with them in a long-running story that culminated in the revelation that the unnamed President of the United States was secretly the group's leader. When discovered by Rogers, the President - a.k.a. Number One - killed himself, leading Rogers to give up the mantle of Captain America and become Nomad for a time. Most recently, the Secret Empire appeared as villains in U.S.Avengers #1.
The shield at the center of the graph is the new one Steve Rogers began brandishing when he returned as Captain America after being de-aged in Avengers: Standoff last spring. Since then, it's been revealed that the Red Skull used a Cosmic Cube to retroactively make the Sentinel of Liberty a sleeper Hydra agent going back to his childhood in the 1920s. As the story has progress, it's been revealed that Rogers is orchestrating a coup against the Red Skull for control of Hydra.
Another possible conclusion to be drawn from this is the mention way back in Rick Remender's All-New Captain America #3 by Misty Knight that there were numerous sleeper agents in the ranks of Marvel heroes; remember, this pre-dated the revelations about Captain America.
"Hydra's infiltrated everyone. Flipped someone in every one of your superhero teams," said Knight. "The Avengers, the Inhumans, the X-Men - everyone. The Things I'm hearing on the stream - the thing's [sic] they've already accomplished. Sam, the war was over before anyone new it began..."
Going even further, the quote: ""A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand" would seemingly be a call-back to the promotional phrase for the recently-launched "Marvel NOW!", "Divided We Stand." That initiative appeared to center around the idea of youthful characters coming to the forefront of Marvel line using codenames of older heroes.
What do you think Secret Empire could be? Tell us in the comments.