Imagine if Thanos was just a pawn in Avengers: Infinity War and a much more dangerous big bad will soon be revealed as a puppet master of sorts behind the Mad Titan's actions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to one complex, well thought out fan theory, the fiery Mephisto could end up being the one who's been calling the shots all along.
In short, /u/CarniLvr79 posted quite the elaborate fan theory on /r/MarvelStudios earlier this weekend in which they mentioned that Red Skull (Ross Marquand) is in the process of becoming Mephisto in an amalgamation of villains from Marvel Comics lore.
The crux of the theory is comparing the events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a game of chess — the Black "Team" being played by Mephisto and the White "Team" being played by the Infinity Stones.
To start the theory, /u/CarniLvr79 makes sure to run some comparisons between the comic book version of Mephisto and the MCU version of Red Skull. Not only does Mephisto serve as a mischevious soul-collecting demon, but the character does also have a supporting role in the Infinity Gauntlet series. The main connection between a comics-accurate Mephisto and the live-action Red Skull, the theory reads, is the latter's new role as the keeper of the Soul Stone.
Essentially, as the theory states, Red Skull has been well aware of Thanos' plan to raze half of all life in the universe. Because of Thanos' plan, Red Skull supposedly manipulated the events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make it easier for Thanos to obtain the Infinity Stones and complete his life-long goal.
Though there isn't all that much concrete evidence that proves Mephisto is an already-existing character in the MCU, the biggest supporting claim is an Easter egg from The Avengers. As Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is working on assembling the Avengers, he hands Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) an envelope with information about the Tesseract.
At the bottom of the report, there's a paragraph of text that reads along the lines of "...how they want to be used, and deny certain wishes. Mephisto was who proposed that a billion-sentient universally-linked will could overcome this problem, and that the Cubes could be as powerful as the Infinity Gems."
Not only does this seem to confirm the fact that Fury and SHIELD knew about the existence of Infinity Gems back in The Avengers, but they had already had contact with the demonic character in some shape, way, or form.
It should be noted in the official release of the documents as a part of the consumer product marketing of the film, the paragraph in question was both changed, then subsequently redacted — meaning that someone, somewhere may have had a problem with the name being prominently displayed for all eyes to see.
To circle back around, this particular theory has quite a few levels involved — first and foremost, it suggests that Red Skull is Mephisto and that SHIELD knows about his identity. In, the Red Skull/Mephisto hybrid has been manipulating the events that have played out on screen to ensure that Thanos was able to adequately complete his goal of killing half of all life, so that the demonic character could absorb their souls.
Do you think Red Skull could be Mephisto in disguise? Even if he isn't, do you hope to see a live-action version of Mephisto in the MCU some day anyway? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or join the conversation online by mentioning me (@AdamBarnhardt) on Twitter to talk all things MCU!
Avengers: Endgame is out April 26th. Other Marvel Cinematic Universe releases this year include Captain Marvel on March 8th and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.