The Avengers: Infinity War prequel comic may contain evidence that the Red Skull is still alive in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Probably the MCU's greatest flaw is the fact the movies tend to churn through their villains quite quickly. It's actually quite rare for a Marvel villain to survive; even their best films tend to kill the bad guys off in swift order. That's led to a lot of frustration among fans who know that many of these villains could easily go on to become recurring threats.
The classic example is, of course, the Red Skull. Introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull was the founder of Hydra. Comic book fans know him as Cap's age-old nemesis, a perfect ideological contrast with America's super-soldier. But that dynamic was never really given chance to develop; in The First Avenger, the Red Skull apparently died, consumed by the Tesseract.
But his fate may not be sealed after all. The Avengers: Infinity War Prelude comic features flashbacks to that scene, and it drops a tantalizing hint that the Red Skull may have survived.
The Red Skull's Fate
It all begins with The First Avenger. There, the Red Skull's fate is sealed when he unwisely picks up the Tesseract. He initially sees a vision of deep space, and then begins to be consumed by the Space Stone's energy. The effect literally seems as though the Red Skull is being (painfully) burned alive by crackling blue fire.
This flashback scene, however, is very different. Instead of disintegration, the art clearly hints that the Red Skull has been transported into space - leaving the Tesseract behind. The image is even packed with traditional motion lines, supporting the popular Marvel fan-theory that the Space Stone didn't kill the Red Skull at all; it merely sent him... elsewhere. In contrast, hen Marvel Comics adapted this for their comic book adaptation, they chose to render it as an explosion of blue energy - as though the Red Skull had literally been atomized.
Where Is The Red Skull?
There's a certain irony to the possibility the Red Skull was sent into space. He was obsessed with legends and mythology, believing them to have a basis in science-fact. In the Red Skull's view, for example, Asgardians were powerful aliens who had left behind relics, samples of their advanced technology. It's a matter of record that, in the context of the MCU, he was right.
Of course, the reality is that even Hydra's technology is as nothing to the science of alien civilizations. If he was transported, the Red Skull most likely wound up stranded on an alien world, and would have struggled to get off it (perhaps explaining why he's not turned up in the near century since). No clues are given to where, but the change in the comic definitely suggests he's somewhere.
The big point here is that the Red Skull's return is possible. We already had this teased to by Samuel L. Jackson, but Jorge Fornes's art strongly suggests Marvel is reinterpreting that "death scene". Red Skull may not be dead after all, and Captain America could yet wind up facing the Nazi leader once again.
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