Is Avengers: Infinity War’s Red Skull The MCU’s Unseen?
Red Skull made his shocking first appearance in the MCU since 2011 in Avengers: Infinity War, with it being revealed that he’d been transported to the planet Vormir by the Space Stone at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. In the 80 years since, he’s remained there, acting as the Soul Stone’s guardian. The former HYDRA leader even describes himself as being cursed to serve this higher power that he’s doomed never to possess.
Due to his grim reaper-like appearance in Infinity War, fans immediately saw the comparisons between Johann Schmidt and Mistress Death, who featured in the original Infinity Gauntlet comic book storyline but was left out of the movie adaptation in order to simplify things. While this was no doubt at least partly the intention, there is another character from the Marvel universe that Red Skull’s role in the film resembles much more closely.
In the 2014 Original Sin event series by Jason Aaron and artist Mike Deodato, Nick Fury’s responsible for murdering Uatu the Watcher, an alien being who’s sworn to observe Earth but never interfere. Having decided that Uatu’s eye would grant him the power to see any major threats ahead of time and do something about it, the S.H.I.E.L.D. director deemed his death necessary for the greater good.
However, Fury eventually had to pay for what he’d done when the Watchers discovered his transgression. They banished him to the moon, cursed to take Uatu’s place and watch over the people of Earth but never be allowed to protect it. In this form, Fury became known as the Unseen and was depicted as a lonely, robed figure clad in heavy chains.
The parallels between Red Skull and the Unseen’s situations are very easy to see, with both trying to grasp a superior power – either to save the world or to rule it – and ending up paying a terrible price when their plans fail. It’s interesting to note that the Unseen reappeared in later event series when things got apocalyptic, too. So perhaps Red Skull’s cameo in Avengers: Infinity War is just the beginning of a new direction for him in the MCU?