One of the biggest surprises of 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” was when the Red Skull revealed himself on the planet Vormir, where he’s cursed in a purgatory state to serve as a guide to those seeking the Soul Stone. The kicker was that the actor behind the skull wasn’t Hugo Weaving but Ross Marquand. Weaving, who last played the Red Skull in “Captain America: The First Avenger” revealed in a new interview with Time Out why he didn’t return to play the character in the last two “Avengers” movies.
“Oh, yeah. I loved playing that character Red Skull – it was a lot of fun. We were all obliged to sign up for three pictures: I was thinking [Red Skull] probably wouldn’t come back in ‘Captain America’ but he may well come back as a villain in ‘The Avengers,'” Weaving said.
“By then, they’d pushed back on the contracts that we agreed on and so the money they offered me for ‘The Avengers’ was much less than I got for the very first one, and this was for two films. And the promise when we first signed the contracts was that the money would grow each time. They said: ‘It’s just a voice job, it’s not a big deal.’ I actually found negotiating with them through my agent impossible. And I didn’t really wanna do it that much. But I would have done it.”
The Red Skull, also known as Johann Schmidt, is a HYDRA member and former Nazi whose face was deformed when he took an early version of the super-soldier serum that would eventually turn Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into Captain America. The serum made Schmidt powerful, though, and in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” he used that power and his position in HYDRA to inflict some serious damage on the world.
Schmidt and his chief scientist, Arnim Zola, created powerful weapons for HYDRA using the power of the Tesseract. That’s the blue cube that Loki used in “The Avengers” to open up a portal to space to let Thanos’ army of aliens attack New York — and it’s the cube that Thanos destroys at the start of “Avengers: Infinity War” to reveal the Space Stone.
During the climax of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Cap and Red Skull fought aboard Red Skull’s huge, Tesseract-powered bomber. During the fight, Red Skull fell backward into the device drawing power out of the Tesseract, knocking it loose. The villain picked up the cube and it opened a portal into space above him, much like it does when Thanos uses the Space Stone. Blasted by a beam of energy, Red Skull disappeared through the portal, never to be seen again. Until now, anyway.
Now we know that the Space Stone transported him to Vormir, and has done some weird things to him besides. When Thanos and Gamora find him on Vormir, he’s floating in a black cloak, looking a whole lot like the Grim Reaper. What’s more, he seems to know exactly who the pair are from sight, almost as if he’s getting the information from sort of supernatural place — he says part of his role there is to know everything about everyone who visits.
The Red Skull explains that his quest to control an Infinity Stone led it to reject him, sending him to Vormir. He’s tied to the Soul Stone as its representative, it seems, and he can never possess it himself.