Warning! MAJOR SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War ahead!
Avengers: Infinity War answers one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's longest-standing mysteries with a surprise appearance from a character we haven't seen in a very long time - Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull returns!
The first and presumed final appearance of the Red Skull in the MCU was in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, where during the film's climactic final act fight, Schmidt foolishly picks up the Tesseract only to painfully dissolve in a beam of white light. As far as The First Avenger is concerned, the Red Skull dies in that moment, but fans have long held out hope for his return thanks to the nature of the Tesseract - AKA the Space Stone, an Infinity Stone with the ability to create wormholes across the universe and to other dimensions.
Avengers: Infinity War finally gives fans their answer, revealing that the Red Skull survived his brush with the Tesseract. But the film does more than that, giving Red Skull a new role to play and a fate that is far crueler than had he just died all the way back in 1945.
How The Red Skull Survived The Tesseract
As already mentioned, the Tesseract is much more than some ancient artifact with the ability to create a limitless supply of energy. The cosmic cube itself is really just a cube-shaped vessel made in Asgard to contain the immensely powerful and volatile Space Stone. At some point in history, the Tesseract was taken from Asgard and brought to Earth where it was kept in a church in the village of Tønsberg, Norway, guarded by those who still worshiped the old gods. That is where in 1942, Johann Schmidt led a Nazi expedition to find and retrieve the Tesseract, intending to use it to fuel his growing HYDRA Empire.
It turns out the discovery of the Tesseract was an ill-fated one, and though HYDRA didn't dissolve along with the Red Skull, it did suffer a major collapse and needed to retreat into the shadows (or rather, S.H.I.E.L.D.) in order to survive. As for their leader, handling the Tesseract (or rather, the Space Stone) didn't kill the Red Skull but it transported him into the far reaches of space - just as fans have been predicting ever since he vanished in the wake of touching the glowing cube.
Avengers: Infinity War reveals that the Red Skull (recast from Hugo Weaving to Ross Marquand) was sent to the planet Vormir - a desolate world that is home to the most mysterious of the Infinity Stones, the Soul Stone. There, he assumes a new purpose, one which inevitably brings him face to face with Thanos.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019