‘Avengers’ Actor Ross Marquand Says Red Skull Is ‘Essentially Free’ to Return in Future Movies

In the lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios kept many of the films’ twists a secret. Especially in the case of the latter adventure, fans had little to no idea what to expect when they arrived in the theater. But perhaps one of the best reveals was the return of a familiar face.

Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull hadn’t appeared on screen since the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. Yet, the character suddenly reappeared on the distant planet of Vormir as the guardian of the Soul Stone. In each of the last two Avengers films, Red Skull presented characters with a choice.

Now it seems Marvel Studios has to choose whether we’ll see Cap’s arch-nemesis again sometime soon.

Ross Marquand at the premiere of 'Avengers: Infinity War'
Ross Marquand at the premiere of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

‘The Walking Dead’ star Ross Marquand replaced Hugo Weaving

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Hugo Weaving starred opposite Chris Evans as Red Skull. The actor is still perhaps best known to mainstream audiences as Agent Smith from The Matrix trilogy. But due to contract issues with Marvel, Weaving did not return for Avengers: Infinity War.

Instead, Marvel cast The Walking Dead‘s Ross Marquand in the role. A master impressionist, Marquand nails Weaving’s performance so closely some audiences probably couldn’t tell the difference. Although Red Skull’s role in the Avengers films was brief, Marquand is open to coming back for more. However, he hasn’t heard anything from Marvel just yet.

“I think that role obviously belongs to Hugo. He is the person that originated it, and I loved what he did with that,” Marquand told Nerds4Life. “If his heart is in a different place and he no longer wants to return, I would truly again be honored to play that character again.”

Red Skull could be free after the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Right now, there’s no indication Red Skull will factor into Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or beyond. But if he does, Marquand said the door is wide open for the character. After all, his duties as Stonekeeper are complete.

“[Directors Anthony and Joe Russo] said once the Red Skull is released of the Soul Stone, once Thanos gets it and then once Hawkeye gets it, he’s essentially free,” Marquand told Nerds4Life. “I would imagine the first thing he would do if he still has a vendetta, or if any part of him still has ambition, would be to go back to Earth.”

According to Marquand, Red Skull has developed the ability to return to Earth. But the actor is unsure if the villain would even want to resume his quest for power. After spending decades with his fate tied to the Infinity Stones, perhaps Red Skull is no longer the man he once was.

“I imagine when you’re graced with infinite wisdom, you’re also graced, or cursed, with infinite pain and suffering,” Marquand said. “So he’s probably, I would imagine on one level, he’s over it. He doesn’t need to conquer anybody, because he’s [unliving].”

Or the ‘Avengers’ villain might fulfill a very different kind of role

If that’s the case, then the MCU could do something even more interesting with him. Fans have already seen Red Skull at his most evil. What if he transitions into the MCU’s version of Uatu the Watcher? Thanks to the late Stan Lee’s cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Watchers are already established. So it’s not much of a stretch for Red Skull to assume the mantle.

“I think Red Skull could certainly move into that territory, where he is just a casual observer of the world and the celestial bodies of the entire universe, and he only intervenes when he’s absolutely needed,” Marquand said to Nerds4Life. “But that’ll be interesting if he’s gonna be a force of good or evil.”

Marquand said the Russos even instructed him to play his Red Skull “with a bit of Yoda,” the actor said. His performance certainly befits the character’s ghostly state, cursed as he was with responsibility. But it’s possible Red Skull’s evolution has only just begun. Marquand said he even sees the character now as more of a “complicated anti-hero.”

Now that the MCU has a new Captain America, Red Skull’s return could be fun, no matter how it happens. For all we know, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could even squeeze in a surprise appearance. It wouldn’t be the first time Marvel sprung the character on us.