Whether it was Anthony and Joe Russo writing and distributing fake pages of the script, or incredible restraint on behalf of the entire cast during an arduous PR campaign, Avengers: Infinity War somehow managed to stay mostly spoiler-free before its release. While a few plot details did leak out ahead of time, one surprise in particular that probably no one saw coming was the shocking return of Red Skull.
The Captain America: The First Avenger villain, who was seemingly killed by the Tesseract in Joe Johnston’s 2011 film, was actually just transported to the planet Vormir, which is where we find him in Infinity War. It’s here where the Mad Titan comes to get his hands on the Soul Stone, with Red Skull explaining to Thanos what he must do to obtain it.
While those who’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War were likely beside themselves with joy witnessing the Phase One villain’s return, the antagonist’s initial portrayer, Hugo Weaving, apparently didn’t want to be part of the elation.
On account of the character’s mutilated appearance, most probably couldn’t tell, but that wasn’t Weaving beneath the prosthetics. The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings actor has never been coy about his displeasure with the Red Skull role, or starring in blockbusters altogether, for that matter, making Weaving’s decision to steer clear of future MCU appearances, not all that surprising.
In an interview a few years back, the actor noted the following about his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
“I [signed a multi-picture deal] for Captain America. I think the tendency, with those films, would be to probably not bring a villain back. They might for The Avengers, but I didn’t think I’d be in Captain America 2 or 3. I don’t think Red Skull will be there. And it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to.”
Continuing on, he said:
“I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film. It was good to do it and try it out, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by. As an actor, to do all sorts of different films is great. It stretches you in different ways. But, I increasingly like to go back to what I used to always do, which is to get involved with projects that I really have a personal affiliation with.”
Clearly, Weaving’s not a big fan of comic book movies and so, he was replaced by The Walking Dead actor Ross Marquand. With Weaving long gone now though, likely never to look back, and Marquand having done a serviceable job in Avengers: Infinity War, it appears there’s only one question remaining: will Red Skull return to the MCU once again? Obviously, the villain will need to find a way off Vormir, but given the seven year break in between appearances, I suppose anything’s possible, right?