For the most part, everyone who you expected to see Avengers: Infinity War — Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Widow, etc. — was in Avengers: Infinity War. There was one big exception, though. When Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir to retrieve the Soul Stone, they’re met by Red Skull, who hasn’t been seen since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. (It was so long ago that he’s now played by a different actor: Ross Marquand, of The Walking Dead fame, replaced Hugo Weaving.) Why, of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters who could have been the Stonekeeper, did screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely pick Red Skull?
“He’s the first one obsessed with these Infinity Stones in the MCU and he certainly did not die,” said Markus in the film’s commentary. “The idea of where he might have gone is so tantalizing and much like being able to fill roles that would be there anywhere with William Hurt [Thaddeus Ross] or Benicio del Toro [The Collector], he fit this moment perfectly… Sometimes, you can dig a body up and put him in a scene.” Ah yes, the “digging up a corpse” device.
That vibes with what directors Anthony and Joe Russo told us shortly after Infinity War‘s release. “Red Skull has been turned into this wraith who now guards the Soul Stone and distributes the rules to whoever shows up [there] trying to obtain it,” the brothers explained. “It felt like there was more credibility than just a random character.” Better luck next time, Agent 13.