Now that Captain America: The Winter Soldier has arrived, we have a fairly clear view of the Marvel universe onscreen. Through nine films thus far, we've explored the deepest regions of the Nine Realms, met aliens and government double agents, been to Harlem and the Himalayas. People have lived, people have died, and heroes have established themselves as Earth's defenders and Avengers. And it's all been connected through Marvel's complex interlocking mythology.

But that mythology has undergone some growing pains, in the form of questions that these movies ask and do not answer. The benefit of these films is that you can introduce a plot element without having to pay it off, knowing that it's an ace in the hole for a later date. But different writers and filmmakers have been free to mix and match varying elements of this new canon, changing what came before and disregarding some of the more complex developments in the world of Marvel. As a result, we have nine films worth of unanswered questions, unresolved cliffhangers and nagging mysteries that no one has been in a rush to conclude. Knowing Marvel, some of these topics could become major story ideas at a later date, while others could be completely forgotten forever.

A couple of notes. First off, obviously, this piece will be discussing major spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Secondly, none of these questions will deal with the tired hand-wringing over why Captain America didn't drop into Iron Man 3, why the Hulk didn't fight The Winter Soldier, and why Hawkeye hasn't been compelled to help his Avengers buddies at all. If you need an answer, actors are expensive, so there it is. And third, surely many of these issues have been addressed through various supplemental material in video games, comics and the like, but so much of that is not canon so we won't be pursuing it too hard

Where Is The Red Skull?
For all its pleasures, it's hard to be too satisfied with the way Captain America: The First Avenger ended. Cap and the Red Skull are facing off, nearly physical equals, but then the Tesseract pops out and randomly sucks the mad Nazi inside. Since then, we haven't heard from the bad guy, and he's barely mentioned in The Winter Solder. Many of us had Alexander Pierce being Red Skull in disguise in our office pools, which would have been a terrible bet.

So, uh, where is he? The Tesseract is perhaps providing a supernatural prison for the villain, but now that Loki's scepter is in the hands of Baron Strucker, as seen in the end credits to The Winter Soldier, there could easily be a Red Skull/HYDRA reunion. This all makes sense logically, but we can't forget about the Hugo Weaving situation: he has gone on record saying that he doesn't have much interest in returning to the character. This is unfortunate given that the Red Skull is one of Cap's most iconic villains, and if HYDRA remains a presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward it doesn't make a lot of sense for them to not try and get back their fearless leader.

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