Co-director Joe Russo sheds some light with regard to the possibility of Captain America (Chris Evans) encountering the Red Skull (Ross Marquand) while returning the Soul Stone to Vormir in Avengers: Endgame. Debuting in Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger as Johann Schmidt as the primary antagonist, the former head of HYDRA transformed to the Red Skull after using an imperfect replica of the Super Soldier Serum. The very first character in the MCU timeline to have actively sought after the elemental crystals, he encountered the Tesseract/Space Stone in '40s and after touching it with his bare hands was transported into an unknown place.
Red Skull's whereabouts were unknown for quite a while until he made his reappearance in Avengers: Infinity War, this time, as the surprise Soul Stone keeper in Vormir - a punishment for wanting wield the power of the stone for personal gain. With Endgame sending the remaining heroes back in time to pluck out the stones from different time periods in the MCU, Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint (Jeremy Renner) collected the Soul Stone from Vormir where the former died in order for the latter to acquire the gem. After successfully bringing back all that's dusted following Thanos' snap, as well as ensuring that he doesn't pose a threat to the universe ever again, Steve Rogers was tasked to return the stones to their original locations so as not to create alternate timelines, leading people to believe that Cap has also journeyed to Vormir to hand off the Soil Stone where he may have met with his old nemesis.
This posed a lot of interesting questions, some of which Russo attempted to clarify during a Q&A for Endgame in China that was shared on Reddit. The filmmaker was asked how would Cap react upon encountering Red Skull as he brought back the Soul Stone, but it turns out, there might not be any recognition from the villain's part as he might be a "completely different entity now."
Red Skull would probably put the soul stone back to its location, and wait for the next unfortunate stone seeker to make sacrifice. Cap and Red Skull probably won't fight. It's because it's his mission to return the stone to its original place. The Red Skull is also no longer the same Red Skull from FA. He is more like a ghost, you could almost say he's a completely different entity now. He only exists to guard the stone, his past conscious may or may not exist anymore.
As much as Endgame was the wrap up of the 22-film arc that the MCU has been tackling for the last 11 years, it left a lot of questions all needing to be answered. Most of those involve Cap's final mission to bring back all the Infinity Stones to their original locations. Since all of those happened off-screen, fans weren't really privy to how those trips panned out with both the Soul and Reality Stone posing the biggest mysteries. At one point, the Russos implied that once the Soul Stone has been retrieved, he's free to leave Vormir, so he might not even be there when Steve came. That said, the manner of him actually returning the crystal is interesting.
Based on Russo's answer, even he's not sure how that played out - unless, he was purposefully being coy so as not to reveal any kind of indication that it will be further explored down the line. He and director Anthony have been vocal about their mindset working on Avengers: Endgame with regard to not specifically thinking how things will shake out for the MCU in the aftermath of the Thanos-debacle, although they did tease that Evans is not done with the franchise and the alternate timeline he's lived with Peggy (Hayley Atwell) sounds like a great narrative opportunity for Marvel Studios.
Source: Joe Russo
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019