Just like you couldn’t have Batman without the Joker or the X-Men without Magneto, you can’t have Captain America without Red Skull. Sure enough, the crimson HYDRA leader was Steve Rogers’ original nemesis in The First Avenger, but then he disappeared for a number of years.
Due to his importance in the Marvel universe, though, folks kept on expecting him to show up again and he finally did when Avengers: Infinity War arrived back in April. Red Skull’s shocking appearance as the guardian of the Soul Stone on the planet Vormir was a true fan-pleasing moment and, while we’re all grateful that the villain’s long awaited return finally happened, it’s curious that it took Marvel Studios so long to bring the character back. It also makes us wonder, did the Russo brothers, who helmed both The Winter Soldier and Civil War, contemplate resurrecting Red Skull for their Captain America movies?
The answer, it seems, is a definite “no.” CinemaBlend asked Joe Russo this recently and he revealed that they had clear plans for the antagonists in their previous movies and so they never entertained the idea of, say, Robert Redford turning out to be Johann Schmidt in disguise in Winter Soldier. It wasn’t until Infinity War when an organic opportunity arose to insert him back into the narrative.
“No, actually it just didn’t fit the storytelling. Winter Soldier was clear that Hydra was the villain out of the gate. I mean, that was a commitment, and the story was that SHIELD kills Hydra, and I think we developed the [Robert] Redford character so that we had a personification of Hydra. In Civil War it was always going to be Zemo.”
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As we reported yesterday, Red Skull’s return came about because Infinity War needed someone to be on Vormir and writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus decided the first character to show an interest in the Infinity Stones would be the best fit for that role. In doing this, the villain changed quite a lot from his depiction in First Avenger – not least because he was now played by The Walking Dead‘s Ross Marquand instead of Hugo Weaving.
Now that he’s back in circulation, here’s hoping Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t turn out to be Red Skull’s last appearance in the MCU.