There was quite a bit Avengers: Infinity War managed to keep quiet before the movie hit theaters. But there’s one, in particular, that’s an unexpected deep cut, and that closes a plot hole that goes all the way back to Phase One.
Before we go any further, this involves spoilers for major plot points in Avengers: Infinity War. Don’t want to be spoiled? Then enjoy a lovely parting GIF:
Still here? OK then, we need you to cast your mind back to Phase One, and Captain America: The First Avenger. If you haven’t watched it in a bit, a quick reminder of the plot: Steve Rogers, 98-pound weakling, gets dosed with the Super Soldier serum and becomes America’s superhero in World War II, fighting the Nazi offshoot HYDRA, and chasing down the Tesseract, which we’d later discover was in fact one of the Infinity Stones.
Cap’s enemy in this movie was the Red Skull, portrayed by Hugo Weaving. And, if you know your comic books, the Red Skull got defeated in a very suspicious manner, falling through a tear in reality. And ever since, fans have speculated whether the Skull really died, to the point where it was speculated Robert Redford was playing the Skull in a different body.
Well, as you might have guessed, Avengers: Infinity War explains just where the Skull, now played by The Walking Dead‘s Ross Marquand, has been all this time: He’s been on a distant alien planet, stuck as the custodian of the Soul Stone. He’s suffering the ironic punishment of knowing exactly where an object of vast power he lusts for is, and being completely unable to claim it. The near-century of being stuck on a rock with nothing to do has left him a bit chastened, if nothing else. Then again, he is a Nazi, so he can bite it.
It’s not clear if the Skull is freed from his servitude in the movie, but it doesn’t sound like he’s returning to a life of villainy. Either way, though, it’s a nice touch and an unexpected nod to the franchise’s past even as it sets up its future.