The Red Skull's Role In Infinity War
On Vormir, the Red Skull is transformed into a wraith-like creature whose duty it is to guide and instruct those seeking the Soul Stone - the most mysterious of the Infinity Stones and the only one left to be revealed ahead of Infinity War's release.
Throughout the film, Thanos is seen tracking down and collecting the various Infinity Stones whose locations are already known: the Space Stone in the Tesseract, which Loki reacquired in Thor: Ragnarok; the Power Stone, guarded by the Nova Corps on Xandar; the Reality Stone, kept by The Collector on Knowhere; the Time Stone in Dr. Strange's necklace, the Eye of Agamotto; and the Mind Stone, now a fundamental part of the Vision. When it comes time to collect the Soul Stone, however, Thanos must first learn of its whereabouts - a task he had originally given to his daughter, Gamora.
Thanos captures Gamora and makes her reveal to him the location of the Soul Stone, and even then, not trusting that Gamora has given him the real location, he forces her to accompany him to Vormir. This turns out to have been very wise, almost fateful decision; as it's explained to them by the Red Skull, now Stonekeeper of the Soul Stone - the soul of someone you love must be sacrificed in order to acquire the Soul Stone; "A soul for a soul." For Thanos, Gamora is the closest he's ever come to loving another, so it is she who he must - and does - sacrifice.
For 73 years, the Red Skull has existed as the Stonekeeper on Vormir, tolling out this information to those who've coming looking for the Soul Stone. It's a purgatory-like existence, something between life and death, but his purpose is one of great significance. Just why he was chosen for this role above all others who sought the Infinity Stones remains a mystery, as does what happens to him now that the Soul Stone has been taken. But we at least now have answer for what actually happened to the Red Skull after seemingly being disintegrated by the Tesseract.
The Future Of The Red Skull In The MCU
Just what happens with the Red Skull from here on out in the MCU is a brand new mystery. With the Soul Stone gone and his purpose fulfilled, the Red Skull is no longer its Stonekeeper and may have been able to finally die. Or, when Thanos snaps his fingers and kills half of the universe, the Red Skull could have also crumbled to dust. His death is perhaps the least exciting outcome after just reintroducing the Red Skull, but there hasn't been anything to suggest there are real plans for the character outside of this one-off appearance in Infinity War.
Then again, never say never. Comic books, and those of the superhero variety in particular, are known for bringing characters back from the dead whenever it best suits the story - why should the MCU be any different? Perhaps, after serving out his duty as Stonekeeper of the Soul Stone, Red Skull is rewarded with a renewed life? At this stage, with Marvel's Phase 4 expected to bring in new characters and elevate others into larger roles, it wouldn't be all that unbelievable if the Red Skull returned to antagonize some new Captain America or Avengers team. Heck, with Avengers 4 possibly involving time travel, the history of the MCU might be rewritten. In which case, maybe the Red Skull doesn't "die" in the past and is instead a major threat in the present day? When time travel is involved, there's no telling what could happen.
But for now, the mystery surrounding the Red Skull has been answered. It may have taken seven years, but Avengers: Infinity War finally - and neatly - ties up one of the MCU's longest, open-ended plot threads.
- 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