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For years, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe wondered what had become of Johann Schmidt, the HYDRA supervillain better known as Red Skull. At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) was transported into a wormhole opened by the Tesseract.

The Avengers reveals this cosmic device is actually the Space Stone. As such, this Infinity Stone opens up rifts in space and time. Early in that film, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) even observes it’s a doorway to the other end of space. But what exactly became of Red Skull?

We finally got our answer in Avengers: Infinity War. However, Red Skull was a little different this time around, as he was played by a new actor.

The cast and crew of 'Avengers: Infinity War' at the premiere
The cast and crew of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ at the premiere | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney

Ross Marquand played Red Skull in the ‘Avengers’ films

When Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Gamora (Zoë Saldana) travel to Vormir in search of the Soul Stone, no one knew what to expect. Rumors and speculation naturally follow huge movies like Avengers. But somehow, the Red Skull’s appearance had been largely kept secret.

Credited as the “Stonekeeper,” the character’s design was unmistakably that of Captain America’s (Chris Evans) arch-nemesis. If Weaving’s performance in Avengers: Infinity War feels a bit off, it’s probably because he had nothing to do with the film.

Instead, The Walking Dead star Ross Marquand plays the character in both Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Marquand is well known as an impressionist. So he’s essentially basing his performance as Red Skull on Weaving’s work.

Hugo Weaving’s history with Marvel

Hardcore fans of the MCU shouldn’t really have been too surprised Weaving didn’t return for the Avengers films. Just a year after Captain America: The First Avenger hit theaters, the actor admitted to Collider he was not interested in returning as Red Skull.

It’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to.  I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film.  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.

That said, many fans probably wrote off the possibility of the character’s return. After all, several villains from Phase 1 of the MCU have yet to make a return. Whatever happened to Abomination (Tim Roth) or The Leader (Tim Blake Nelson) from The Incredible Hulk, for instance? Red Skull felt like he’d been gently swept under the rug before Marquand took on the role.

Why Hugo Weaving missed out on ‘Avengers’

As it turns out, Weaving’s absence from the Avengers movies is a bit more complicated than all that. In a recent interview with Time Out, the actor reveals he would have been up for a Red Skull comeback. He just couldn’t get the details sorted out in time.

Oh, yeah. I loved playing that character Red Skull – it was a lot of fun. … By [Avengers: Infinity War], they’d pushed back on the contracts that we agreed on. And so the money they offered me for 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.

According to Weaving, it sounds like the Marvel machine was more to blame for the Red Skull recasting than the actor’s unwillingness to slip back into the makeup chair. Although it would have been fun for Weaving to come back, we can’t blame him for not settling for a contract he didn’t feel was worth his time or effort. At least Marquand did a solid job standing in for him and giving fans a bit of closure on Red Skull’s fate.