Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony & Joe Russo have confirmed that Steve Rogers encountered the Red Skull when returning the Soul Stone. Although not shown in the film, fans have speculated on the necessity of the meeting, and exactly what it would have been like.
The Red Skull is traditionally portrayed as the nemesis of Captain America. Although a version of the character debuted in Marvel comics alongside Cap in March of 1941, this was later revealed as a henchman in disguise, and it wasn’t until seven months later that the more familiar archvillain was properly introduced. Envisioned as the epitome of the Nazi evil that Captain America was created to battle, his schemes often involved mass genocide or megalomania.
In an interview with CinemaBlend, the Russo Brothers confirmed fan speculation that Steve Rogers would have had to encounter the Red Skull when returning the Soul Stone to its resting place on the empty planet of Vormir. “He would have to encounter Red Skull,” Joe stated. “Nobody knows what the rules are when you return the Soul Stone.” Anthony followed up by quipping “Knowing Red Skull, he probably has a ‘no money back’ policy,” likely as a statement that returning the Soul Stone would not have allowed for the resurrection of Natasha, as some have hopefully speculated.
The Red Skull was introduced in the MCU in Captain America: The First Avenger, as a Nazi agent creating superweapons for the Third Reich. A formidable physical opponent from undergoing a similar, but flawed, version of the procedure that afforded Steve Rogers his strength, speed and agility, he perceived a similarity between the two of them from both having transcended the human struggle for physical improvement. Ultimately betraying Nazi Germany and its ambitions, he attempted to use the Tesseract as weapon of mass destruction on the US. While fighting Steve, he physically handled the Tesseract and accidentally opened up a wormhole, through which he was pulled and never seen again until the events of Infinity War.
Although many people imagined the meeting between Steve and the Red Skull being somewhat awkward given their history, it didn’t necessarily need to be that way. The Red Skull would have been alone on the desolate rock of a planet for almost eighty years with nothing but his own thoughts to keep him company, left to contemplate the punishment for his hubris in trying to harness the power of the Tesseract for himself. When Thanos and Gamora encounter him, he is revealed as someone far less driven by an egotistical lust for power and control, tempered by the “curse” of his new reality, trapped in an endless purgatorial half-life as a cosmic gatekeeper, a personality also recreated during Avengers: Endgame when the similar scene plays out.
From Steve’s subjective perspective almost fifteen years would have passed since his last encounter with the Nazi agent, and in that time he has seen more powerful evil and far greater destructive forces than the petty ambitions of a lone madman, and this would have allowed him to place the now pitiful creature in the larger context of all that the universe holds. Changed by their experiences, each of them would have accepted their new place in the grand scheme of things, which has been revealed as infinitely larger than either of them could have originally envisioned. They will accept the returning of the Soul Stone as a necessity to allow nigh-omnipotent cosmic forces to remain in balance, the past personal animosity between them barely worth acknowledging.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019