Ross Marquand, who took over the Red Skull role from Captain America: The First Avenger star Hugo Weaving in Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, says the ghostly keeper of the Soul Stone could menace the Marvel multiverse and once again wreak havoc on Earth. Whether or not the cursed Red Skull was released from his duties when Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) each collected the Soul Stone from Vormir — Thanos sacrificed adopted daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Infinity War, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) sacrificed herself to spare family man Hawkeye in Endgame — Marquand believes a version of the being formerly known as Johann Schmidt is now free to return.
"[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. "But if we think about it, there's all these different multiverses now. So in one multiverse, when Thanos frees him, he's free. 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 go back to Earth."
Since his defeat at the hands of Captain America (Chris Evans) in 1945 — when the cosmic power of the Space Stone teleported Schmidt to barren planet Vormir — Red Skull's time as the immortal stonekeeper endowed him with powerful abilities capable of transporting him back to Earth, Marquand noted.
"Maybe he wants to enact revenge, maybe he wants to keep his diabolical plan going," Marquand said. "Or maybe he doesn't care at all. I imagine when you're graced with infinite wisdom, you're also graced, or cursed, with infinite pain and suffering. 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]."
If Red Skull doesn't return as a villain, Marquand says the character could take on a role comparable to Uatu the Watcher, part of a race of passive observers tasked with watching — but not interfering with — the most momentous happenings of the Marvel universe.
"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," he said. "But that'll be interesting if he's gonna be a force of good or evil."
Asked if he's been approached by Marvel to reprise the role, Marquand said, "I haven't, but I would jump at the chance to do it again."
"I think that role obviously belongs to Hugo, he is the person that originated it and I loved what he did with that," Marquand said. "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."
This new version of Red Skull depicted in Infinity War and Endgame is a "fun character," but "not fun in the conventional sense."
"The great thing about that character now — Anthony and Joe Russo both came to me when we recording it and said, 'We want you to take Hugo's Johann and Red Skull and infuse him with a bit of Yoda,'" Marquan said. "That's exactly what they said. It was a thing of, he's a wise soul. He's 84 years older, but he's also an apparition, he's kind of a ghost at this point. He's no longer the diabolical, ambitious man that we know him as in 1944."
Red Skull has instead become "a complicated anti-hero."
"I think that was just such a fun take on him, because he's just so broken, he's such a cursed man," Marquand said. "And I loved playing that."