Red Skull’s origin story in Captain America: The First Avenger was almost very, very different, as evidenced by this piece of concept art.
Early concept art for Captain America: The First Avenger reveals Red Skull’s origins were almost very different. As one of Captain America’s most iconic foes from the comics, Red Skull was the big bad of his first solo MCU entry. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) encounters him in World War II, when he’s one of the leaders of Hydra. The two actually share a connection: Both took the super soldier serum that was developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). However, while the serum gave Steve his enhanced abilities, it led to Red Skull – also known as Johann Schmidt – becoming horribly disfigured.
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Steve defeats Red Skull by the end of The First Avenger, but it turns out that wouldn’t be the last time he appeared in the MCU. Fans got quite the shock when Red Skull popped up in Avengers: Infinity War as the guardian of the Soul Stone. Red Skull was cursed to hold that position forever because of his previous actions with the Space Stone, or the Tesseract. While Hugo Weaving played the villain in The First Avenger, he didn’t return for the character’s appearances in Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In those films, Red Skull was played by Ross Marquand.
Marvel concept artist Ryan Meinerding recently shared some early designs for Red Skull in The First Avenger. The art itself was previously revealed in 2018, but the new information comes from Meinerding’s caption, where he revealed the original idea for Red Skull’s origin. As Meinerding explained, “I was trying to show that the tesseract was actually changing him into Red Skull—that the light it gave off effected his skin and skull over time.” This would’ve deviated from the comics, but then again, so did Red Skull’s origin in the film itself.
The First Avenger explored Red Skull’s fascination and obsession with the Tesseract, but the idea of watching that obsession be manifested in his deteriorating appearance is fascinating. While the film did a good job of establishing the Tesseract’s importance, this extra connection with Red Skull’s evolution might’ve gone even further in showing the Tesseract’s power. It then went on to play a major role in the next MCU film, The Avengers, as well as several after.
While Phase 4 of the MCU is starting to move beyond the Infinity Stones, the Tesseract will remain in play for a while longer. Endgame saw an alternate version of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) escape 2012 New York with the Tesseract. That alternate version of Loki will be at the center of his own Disney+ show, which means the Tesseract will play some role in it. Meanwhile, Red Skull’s time in the MCU is probably finished, provided the Avengers don’t need to visit Vormir anymore. Still, it’s cool that fans are still discovering new things about him years after his initial appearance in the franchise.
Source: Ryan Meinerding/Instagram
Key Release Dates
- Black Widow (2020)Release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Feb 11, 2022
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
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