A new piece of concept art reveals what Red Skull could’ve looked like in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Debuting in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Hugo Weaving originally played Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) first antagonist. However, when the veteran actor wasn’t able to reprise the role in the MCU culminating movies, Marvel Studios tapped Ross Marquand to play the role.
Known to be the first to pursue an Infinity Stone (the Tesseract, which was later revealed as the Space Stone) in the universe, Red Skull started as Johann Schmidt. He eventually assumed the persona of the villain after he used an imperfect replica of the Super Soldier Serum in the hopes of enhancing his physical capabilities as well like what it did to Rogers. After mysteriously vanishing at the end of The First Avenger, it wasn’t until Infinity War revealed that the Space Stone forced him to become the gatekeeper on Vormir, which was where Soul Stone was secretly hidden.
For his MCU return, Marvel Studios went through several looks for Red Skull. One of the earlier designs for him came from concept illustrator Rodney Fuentebella who shared his creation on his official Instagram. There are some similarities to what ultimately made on the big screen, but his illustration makes him look a lot scarier with what looks like a deformed, or at least wrapped head. Interestingly, his right hand maintained its original human color. Check out the image below:
As Fuentebella explained on his caption, the main idea for this Red Skull design is to emphasize that he’s essentially become a shell of his former self, meaning, there’s not much Schmidt left in there. Given the decades of isolation he spent in Vormir, this makes sense. By the time Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) met him, he sounded almost indifferent to them – he’s simply carrying a job, as if being the gatekeeper of Soul Stone essentially robbed him of his life and trapped him in the desolated planet. He had the same aura when Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) visited Vormir for the Soul Stone again in Endgame. In theory, this character design would’ve worked, then again the fact that Red Skull’s barely recognizable in this look may have worked against the filmmakers’ plans of a surprising reveal in Infinity War.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed that once the Soul Stone was removed from Vormir, Red Skull is free to roam. In both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the elemental crystal was retrieved, which would’ve allowed the character to finally leave the planet. However, since Rogers’ was tasked to bring it back at the end of the latest MCU ensemble flick, does that mean that Red Skull is once again trapped there? At this point, no one knows, and it will most probably stay that way until Marvel Studios decides to bring him back again for their future stories.