TV, Film, and Entertainment News Daily

‘Captain America’ Co-Director Weighs in on ‘Winter Soldier’ Red Skull Rumor

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.


Months before Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Marvel sequel was making headlines for an odd reason — namely, rumors that claimed Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce was secretly the Red Skull.

Of course, with the film now in theaters, audiences know that no such twist occurred. Redford’s Pierce had Hydra ties, yes, but that’s where his connection to the late Johann Schmidt ended.

“We did hear that rumor,” Anthony Russo, who directed the film with his brother Joe, told “Fans are always trying to tie everything back to the mythology, and sometimes it’s good to subvert expectations. We wanted a very grounded villain for this movie: Redford as a top level bureaucrat. He’s sort of the Henry Kissinger for this generation, who’s gone bad. That felt like that fit more into the struggle that Cap was going through in the film and it was a better villain for him to oppose. A sort of ideological villain, versus a science fiction creation?”

Pierce wasn’t the only villain in The Winter Soldier, of course: By the end of the film, mercenary Brock Rumlow is still alive, but very badly burned. Is that a setup for Captain America 3, by any chance?

“We won’t confirm or deny,” Russo said, “but this could be perceived as an origin story for Crossbones.”

Captain America 3 will hit theaters on May 6, 2016.


  • CharlesMStrickland

    Of course, with the film now in theaters, audiences know that no such twist occurred. Redford’s Pierce had Hydra ties, yes, but that’s where his connection to the late Johann Schmidt ended.

  • Ricardo

    Yes!!!!! make it Crossbones!!!!

  • Jonwayne Stricker

    First of all Red Skull in the comics HAD NO POWERS he was an ideological villain for CAP in every sense of the word. I hate it when the movie makers talk about comics and make it clear they never read them. Honestly not putting in the Redskull was your loss. Then again it was clear that you have no idea how the Red Skull should act from the first movie. He is unhinged and finds chaos orgasmic. He is in every sense is to Captain America what the joker is to the Batman.

  • Convoy

    What are you talking about. In the movie, The Red Skull HAS POWERS. Plus, Hugo Weaving wants nothing to do with the character anymore. So it’s better to let the character rest and find another actor.

  • joker

    Hence why he is complaining. In the books, the Red Skull had no super powers! Read the OP before sticking your foot in your mouth.

  • Derek Metaltron

    I still have a sneaking suspicion they had originally intended for him to be Red Skull – he shares the same first name as Alex Lukin, the man who in the original story secretly had Red Skull in his brain – but, oweing to the reaction to the Mandarin reveal in Iron Man 3 they changed it. We’ll probably never know, though.

  • Derek Metaltron

    It’s true, Red Skull is a leader of men, he doesn’t have any super powers beyond some high levels of strength and endurance thanks to training. It’s only in recent comics that he got mind control powers thanks to swiping Charles Xavier’s brain and slaving it to his own.

  • Drew Melbourne

    If they brought Red Skull back, 70 years later, after he had been disintegrated by the Cosmic Cube (or whatever it did to him) he would have been a sci-fi villain by default. (Whether he was disguised as Robert Redford or in his brain or whatever.)

    Their point was that you can’t insert Red Skull into that story in a naturalistic way without layering a bunch of extra crazy sci-fi stuff on top. For some, the extra crazy sci-fi stuff would have been a good thing, but it’s easy enough to understand why they made the decision they did.

  • Convoy

    I didn’t stick my foot in anything. In the movie he has powers. Did he not take incomplete super soldier serum?

  • Convoy

    In the comics yes. Not in the movie.

  • J.p. Ducey

    Not totally correct. Red Skull started off with “No Powers” in the comics but after his “Death” Arnim Zola transferred his mind into a cloned body of Steve Rogers thus giving him all the same super human abilities as captain america.

  • J.p. Ducey

    Just to clarify, the Red Skull who fused Charles Xavier’s Brain into his own was a Clone of Johann Schmidt. The Original Johann Schmidt died in the Captain America Reborn mini series. (Supposedly)

  • Larry Cathey

    I liked the inclusion of Batroc the Leaper at the start better than Crossbones.

  • kalorama

    None of you have any idea what you’re talking about. The only “powers” the Red Skull had in the movie was the enhanced physical strength he derived from the super-soldier serum, the same “powers” he’s had in the comics since the late-80s, when Mark Gruenwald brought him back from the dead and put his consciousness in a clone of Steve Rogers’ body.

  • notfromvenus

    While I haven’t read a lot of Cap stories other than Brubaker’s run…. Red Skull is a guy with, well, a red skull for a head. He might not have had the super-serum in the comics, but he wasn’t a regular Nazi guy, either.

    Red Skull and Zola are Cap’s key villains from that era, so it makes sense that the movie focused on them. But Cap also needs a super-powered opponent to fight. I think the producers/directors may have reasonably felt that introducing someone like Master Man – on top of Cap’s origin, Hydra, Red Skull, Zola and setting the stage for Winter Soldier – would have just been too much to fit in a 2-hour movie. So it makes sense that they decided to basically make Red Skull and Master Man the same guy.

  • notfromvenus

    I think the extra sci-fi stuff could be cool and work, but it would need some room to be set up and explained. It couldn’t just be some reveal, like “surprise! I’m the Red Skull! Hahaha I somehow survived but we don’t have time in the movie to explain how!”.

  • Hypestyles

    So what about the a1960s cartoons? Do they exist in this continuity? Hopefully
    they’ll come out with a home DVD set of the cartoons, there’s really no
    excuse not to come out with some kind of DVD set. At the very least, release them all on NetFlix, which has a distribution deal with Marvel/Disney, anyway.

  • KraziJoe

    Did anyone actually see him dead? All we saw was a body on the floor. Remember how Fury “Died”. Yeah…He’s Skull…

  • KraziJoe

    Wait, This is a planet where people fly, turn green, boats fly, Cars fly and AC in cars cannot be stopped and we can’t make a jump about a “dead” guy from the 40’s comes back alive in the 10’s?

  • Derek Metaltron

    Yes, this is correct, Adrin Zola had some clone prepared since the 40’s to be revived upon the termination of the Red Skull, who as JP says was finally killed after being losing his mental hold to first Alex Lukin and then Steve Rogers body and finally being trapped inside a giant Sleeper Robot in Washington, which was destroyed by the two Caps. Of course at the same time his daughter Sin was horribly burnt and so herself became the new Red Skull for a time, not sure where she is presently after Fear Itself.

  • mike t

    Btw, that wasn’t the real Skull who took Xavier’s brain. It was a clone.

  • jdb1972

    Translation: Robert Redford didn’t want to play a Nazi, so we scrubbed the idea, even though you can still see some vestiges in the script.

  • percane

    Alexander Pierce is a character in the comics, his first appearance was in 1988. can’t read anything into his name.

    I read the rumor about the red skull when it came out, and what i read said that when Marvel released some toys for CA2, one of them was Pierce as the red skull or vice versa. i think that’s how the rumor got started

  • Andrey Rebolledo

    Red Skull isn’t just one incarnation of the character. His mind was transfered by Zola to a Captain america cloned body. And now his mind is in an android. So as I see the interpretation in the movie and in the next fase of MCU is correct because in comics generally the characters aren’t really just one unique version of themselves, so I don’t see why whining about facts that in comic books change relatively constantly.

  • Statham

    Or, again, they didn’t want to bring back the Red Skull in what would be an obvious twist, plus the idea that a top-level American bureaucrat like Pierce could be influenced to such a degree by post-Nazi ideology is more scary than “Ya, Captain! It vas me all along! HAIL HYDRA!”

  • Chuck777

    Plus, it leaves the door open for the Red Skull to come back later.

  • PretenderNx01

    Yeah, and with Hydra and Zola being a part of the plot there was enough of the first movie in this story. More than that would have just been practically a remake. Red Skull got his story so there really isn’t a need for more movies with him.

  • PretenderNx01

    There’s a Red Skull figure in the toyline but it doesn’t have any Pierce connection to it but I can see how producing a toy of him in the new movie line but confuse people. I think it was just meant to capitalize on there already being a mold and new fans who might be brought in.

  • Alex Hayden

    or, translation: exactly what they said because adding the Red Skull into this movie would have been a bad idea. it was great as it was. adding him woul’ve been needless and over-complicating. he could possibly come back later, but now was not the time.

  • FatherBearNE

    Robert Redskull, er Redford. No one typed this yet?

  • Jonwayne Stricker

    That is correct for a while he had the cloned body of Steve Rodgers,m but in his own body (witch is what he was in in the movie!) he had NO POWERS. The fact they had to CHANGE the character for the movie really did not please me as the Red Skull is one of my favorite villains. In the comics it was his presences and personality that made him a force o be reckoned with.

  • Jonwayne Stricker

    Okay let me see a man with a flying suit, a super soldier, a computer that downloaded the brain of a Nazi scientist, giant hover carries…. DAMN THIS SOUNDS LIKE THIS MOVIE HAS SCI FI IN IT!!!!!!!!

  • Anthony Pargas


  • jdb1972

    The problem, of course, is that the traces of Redford’s character being the Skull are still there. The sudden transformation. The guy who turned down a Nobel Peace prize suddenly trying to rule the world. The longtime friendship with Fury changing (had he been Hydra from the beginning, he’d have long since found another Hydra mole to take Fury’s place). So on. All consistent with a variant on the twist from the comics.

  • Argus

    The Winter Solider…