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Where Will The Red Skull Appear Next?

Marvel Cinematic Universe fans left Captain America: The Winter Soldier With at least one theory completely dispelled – and spoilers ahead for those of you that haven’t caught the film in its first week of release. It turns out that the popular theory that Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce would be revealed as a host body for the Red Skull’s diabolical mind has been disproven. The Red Skull still remains at large!

But how much longer can that remain so? Odds are he hasn’t returned yet because actor Hugo Weaving has been very vocal about his lack of desire for returning to the makeup chair. “I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film,” Weaving said back in 2012. “It was good to do it and try it out, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by.” But this is the Red Skull we’re talking about – one of the biggest bads in the Marvel Universe! Even if Weaving doesn’t return, here are five ways Kevin Feige and friends could bring him back.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season Two

Red Skull

If the ABC drama comes back for seconds in the fall, they could delight fans by setting the ragtag group of ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives up against a real bad guy from the movies – Red Skull. With Weaving out of the picture, they could recast the villain with someone more in their budget range, and now that Hydra’s influence has been exposed, it would make sense for the show to put one of Hydra’s most known leaders in the spotlight.

The Avengers 3

Avengers 3

Of all the non-Loki bad guys in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Red Skull is the only one that could be a truly Avengers-level threat. Avengers: Age of Ultron already seems packed with bad guys, what with Baron Strucker and the titular evil robot already listed among the film’s new characters. Marvel could be playing the long game with this one, and Red Skull could be a part of Avengers 3. But how do they get past Weaving’s departure? They recast him with someone, someone they hire to play U.S. Secretary of Defense Dell Rusk – a.k.a. the false identity the Skull wore when he infiltrated the United States government.

Captain America 3

Cap 3

This makes the most sense, as Red Skull’s real beef is with Captain America. After all, Skull probably blames Cap for him getting sucked into a Tesseract portal. It’s possible that the theory about Robert Redford’s character could still come to pass in a third Captain America film, especially if they adapt the Death of Captain America storyline. In the comics, the Red Skull’s mind was stuffed inside the head of Russian businessman and criminal Aleksander Lukin. That means that until the Red Skull returns in any form, fans will speculate that any mystery character played by a big name actor could be revealed as the Red Skull’s new host body.

Red Skull One-Shot

One Shot

The easiest way to get around Weaving’s departure would be to produce a One-Shot short film about Red Skull’s childhood in Germany. No, the adventures of Lil’ Kid Red Skull wouldn’t make for the cheeriest of One-Shots, but it would give a character that should be more prominent in the MCU a little bit more exposure. Greg Pak and Mirko Colak’s “Red Skull Incarnate” mini-series would be the perfect source material for this short.

Guardians of the Galaxy


Listen, we don’t know where a Tesseract portal would take you should you happen to be sucked into one. Because of that, the Red Skull could return anywhere or anywhen as anyone. When you think about it that way, having the Skull reappear as a vicious conqueror of worlds in Guardians of the Galaxy – or any other cosmic film Marvel’s planning – doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Similarly, he could pop up in a “Thor” film as well, thus giving the Marvel Cinematic Universe a little bit of “Acts of Vengeance” villain-swapping flavor.


  • Dwight Williams

    Didn’t Sitwell refer to “the other Secretary of Defense” during his interrogation as a probable target of Project Insight?

    Who did he mean?

  • Drew Melbourne

    UNDER Secretary of Defense. “Under Secretary” basically means Vice-Secretary.

  • Jason Wells

    Bryan Cranston needs to play The Red Skull next.

  • Kingdom Come

    The constant suggestions of Bryan Cranston for villainous roles has grown tiresome…

  • Brian H

    With his vanishing in a Bifrost effect, it actually WOULD be neat, were the Red Skull to appear again, to have him appear as a villain in a more cosmic direction. I’m thinking of something along the lines of how unexpected it was for readers to see earthbound Ultron behind the Phalanx in ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST — Thor or other Asgardians might be a bit much in power-level, but having Schmidt as a surprise power-behind-the-throne of a surprising new alien empire in a GUARDIANS sequel offering Peter Quill a terrible connection to his home planet that he’s been searching for for decades (but not like this)?

  • Patrick Hamilton

    When Pierce is talking to Cap about Fury’s actions during the Bogota mission, he says that Fury saved, among others, Pierce’s daughter. A daughter who might be severely ticked off about what happened to her father and wants revenge. Maybe this is where we get Sin from, making Pierce a different kind of stand-in for Red Skull.

  • Dan Wheeler

    Only want Red Skull if Weaving comes back.

  • Brian H

    (Okay, with Annihilus, Blastaar, et al likely tied up at Fox and Ultron likely not available for it after AVENGERS 2, I now strangely want to see Schmidt in space, using cosmic tech and alien allies to recreate his Hydra/Nazi plans on a galactic scale, borrowing liberally from the Giffen/DnA storylines for a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: ANNIHILATION sequel…)

  • lewis4510

    I was thinking about the Bloomberg Business Week article, in it Kevin Feige and James Gunn were talking about a surprise villain sitting on a rocket powered throne in a scene in GotG. Could they be talking about the Red Scull? It would be cool set up for GotG 2. Maybe a variation on Annihilation.

  • Mr. On

    In “Before” and “After” ads.

  • George

    I don’t understand why everyone is so worried about what marvel will do if weaving doesn’t come back. They already have had two Bruce banners, two Howard Starks, and two rhodeys. Hugo weaving is great but if he’s not coming back they will just replace him.

  • kalorama

    If Pierce’s daughter shows up, she’d more likely to be Madame Hydra, given her father’s associations.

  • Ace Comicfan

    The great thing about the Red Skull is that his face was almost entirely manufactured via makeup and prosthetics. Which, simply put, means they could easily replicate the look of the Red Skull with an entirely different actor.

    With that said, I do think the media and the fans take Hugo Weaving’s comments far too seriously. He may very well not like doing these films, but he’s contracted for multiple movies. It’s not his choice to go or stay, it’s Marvel Studios’. If they decided to ‘force’ him to make another, I’m sure he’d be a consummate professional and perform the role well; just as he did originally.

    Who knows, perhaps in the year(s) since he made those comments Marvel has shown him their plans, or perhaps just a look at Winter Soldier, and that reaffirmed it as a project he can take as a ‘serious actor’.

  • Daryll Benjamin

    Ace. You hit the nail right on its head. If CA:WS didn’t convince folks that a superhero movie can be a terse, respectable thriller for “serious actors”, nothing will….

  • joe86

    It’s a shame, because Hugo Weaving was terrific and made Red Skull the only (so far) truly memorable and standout villain of the MCU. I would give anything to see him return, but if he can’t be tempted back, I think Sam Neill would make a good replacement. Weaving kinda reminds me of a sinister-looking Sam Neill anyway. LOL!

  • Hypestyles

    bring the skull into effect for Avengers 3

  • Superman

    I think it’s pretty easy to explain that ol’ Johann was behind Hydra’s activities at some point during the 60s-70s. He returned to Earth, found Zola, and then directed HYDRA from the shadows. I think Pierce was just a pawn, one of my many heads of HYDRA now cut off. As for recasting, that’s no problem; there are tons of great actors who could easily fit the role. Christoph Waltz would be brilliant, unless the Skull still needs to be as tall as he was in TFA. If so, I think we all know who would be perfect: Benedict Cumberbatch. He’d also be a brilliant choice…

  • Kenneth Sands

    Just something to wonder about..could the Red Skull and Thanos be the same person in the cinematic universe?

  • kalorama

    “the only truly memorable and standout villain of the MCU”? Couldn’t disagree more. While Weaving did a solid job, he still falls behind Obadiah Stane (the best IMO), Loki, and General Ross.

  • the Dagman

    Even the role of Alexander Pierce was likely recast from Avengers with Powers Boothe in the role to Cap 2 with Robert Redford playing the character.

  • Pinbacker

    It would be cool to see Red Skull imprisoned in the Collector’s collection. Have him escape at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy. Or else have him as an adviser to Thanos, giving him information about Earth…

  • Erick

    Well don’t forget there are multiple Red Skulls in the Marvel U as it was. We Still have George Maxon and Albert Malik(who would be a more suitable Skull in a post CA:TWS universe.)

  • Ace Comicfan

    On the subject of character rights, you’re correct, most of the ‘cosmic’ characters are tied up with FOX. Including Blastaar, Annihilus, Galactus, Silver Surfer, the skrulls (though if you ask me that should be a joint ownership, like Magneto’s kids) and I believe the Badoon as well.

    Perhaps most interestingly is the absolute mess that is Namor’s rights. Technically Universal Studios owns the character in terms of film, though I have to imagine those rights will expire soon and default back to Marvel Studios. No, what’s truly interesting about his situation is what happens after those rights hypothetically return:

    Namor is an Invader (Captain America, original Human Torch; Marvel Studios), a Defender (In terms of the core comic incarnation, Doctor Strange, Hulk; Marvel Studios. Silver Surfer; FOX), a mutant and X-Man (FOX), a major recurring enemy and ally of the Fantastic Four (FOX) and of course, an Avenger (Marvel Studios). If we then take Universal into consideration, it’s possible that they’re in a three-way standoff over the character.

  • Mr November

    he may never return. Marvel ain’t exactly that strict on following the traditions of the comics, remember Iron man 3? supposedly based on the extremis/director of shield story line. but turned out to be anything but, the mandarin wasn’t the mandarin and the big bad guy was pretty much the melter.

  • Tommy Rankin

    Well if Universal lets the rights expire then Namor will probably be with Marvel but if there is some doubt about it between Marvel and Fox then it’s because he has appeared in FF a lot, not the fact that he was an X-Man for couple writers’ runs. After all Wolverine, Storm and Rogue are or have been Avengers by this point but their rights still belong to Fox. Same with Carol Danvers who has associated a lot with X-Men and is still part of Marvel’s Avengers rights. Namor’s association with FF is the only question mark but likely he’s his own “franchise” like original Human Torch and Cap are since that’s how he was created

  • Tommy Rankin

    Hahahah, suggestion that they’d bring RS back in AoS! That’s highly unlikely, lol
    And I don’t understand the problem people see in Weaving declining to return to the role, it’s not such a big deal.
    1. Character requires so much heavy makeup that changing actor wouldn’t be too noticeable and it’s not like they haven’t done that with other characters already.
    2. We have no idea what happened to him at the end of the film. Tesseract could have teleported him anywhere and anywhen, maybe even into the body of some other person. There would be no big need to explain why he looks different, just say that tesseract merged him with someone else.

    But in any case I’m pretty confident that Marvel will him back with or without Weaving, after all they already kicked that idea around for TWS but decided against it because they felt that including him would be too difficult with all the other plots going on and they didn’t want to use him again so soon.

  • ComicBook Coby

    very interesting! I imagine they’ll just leave him out there for a while for possible future movies–much like they did with The Leader and Crossbones

  • Ace Comicfan

    Quite true in regards to his X-Men status. If nothing else it’s too recent to count, as it occurred after the rights had already been assigned. I mentioned it more as an affirmation of the characters’ mutant status. Marvel’s insistence on labeling Namor as ‘the first mutant’ for decades would likely give FOX access to it. As their deal encompasses all mutants. The fact that he was ‘mutant’ enough to later become a core X-Man was more the point.

    Carol Danvers may have had an extensive history with the X-Men, but ultimately would remain untouched by FOX due to the lack of an X-gene.

    One counterpoint I would make about a characters initial appearance or franchise is that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were firmly part of the X-Men side of Marvel comics long before they were Avengers. Now, ultimately, we know that they became prominent enough to be considered part of both rights agreements. Arguably, despite their backstory and parentage, they’re more prominent as Avengers than they ever were as brotherhood members.

    That’s not to suggest that Namor is better known for being a mutant than an Avenger, but it did become a major defining part of his history, enough in my opinion to give Marvel Studios two major rights advantages (Avengers, Invaders) and FOX the same (Fantastic Four antagonist/ally and mutant). With the whole Defenders bit being kind of a toss up.

    I’m starting to think, perhaps, Marvel and FOX are both aware of the fact that they’d likely have joint ownership of the character, and that’s why no one pursues the Universal rights. As long as they stay at Universal, neither party can confuse the others’ audience with contradictory Namor portrayals. One long game of “If I can’t have him to myself, no one will”.

  • William_Spike

    Stane a better villain then LOKI?! Dont make me laugh. he has nowhere near as much charisma as Loki had. Loki, Red Skull and Winter Soldier were by far the most memorable MCU villains yet. Even Blonsky was more badass then Stane.

  • Stephen Smith

    I don’t care where he appears as long as he’s more than the generic cliché that he was in The First Avenger, ranting about being a God from his secret mountain lair shortly after self-destructing his own base. There was none of the genuis of the Ed Brubaker run, which is annoying because the MCU needs more iconic villains than just Loki and, by all rights, the Red Skull should be one of those villains.

  • John

    No that article confirmed it was Thanos.

  • TallBoy6t6

    Yeah, when Red Skull disappeared in Cap I always thought the next time we’d see him would be in, like, an Asgardian jail or something. I like the (admittedly, kind of insane) idea to make him a cosmic baddie for Thor or the Guardians of the Galaxy, cram him square peg into round-hole style of that universe and let the Red Skull be the Red Skull. But with, like, spaceships and terrasacts and the like.

    Big Twist: Thanos finally assembles his Infinity Gauntlet, the Avengers throw down with him in space and then, BOOM, Thanos gets blown apart by a Cosmic Powered Red Skull who brings it to The Avengers!!!

  • Ozymandas

    I was considering this myself after watching Captain America: TFA 2 Thursdays ago (as part of a Cap: TWS double feature).

  • Veritas0519

    I agree that Weaving did a FANTASTIC job as RS but, with the way his consciousness has been swapped and identity changed repeatedly in the books, I think the smartest route to the best story would be recasting the role on a temporary basis as someone in the background of several movies and the A.o.S television show who seems to be helping the heroes but is always scheming around behind them and THEN bring Weaving back later on in another Avengers film as the Big Bad one final time. I really liked the idea in the article about having him wind up as U.S. S.o.D Rusk.

  • Jason Wells

    Very true, he does get brought up for some roles he wouldn’t fit a lot. I totally love his diversity & hope he just doesn’t become a bad guy on film all the time but I have wanted him for the Red Skull since I heard the previous actor was done with the role. I think he would really pull it off perfect & add a lot more to the character.

  • mango

    Well what about wolverine. He was in hulk’s comic before xmen comics.