Why Red Skull Wasn’t In Captain America 2

After seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year, many fans found one question consistently on their minds: where is Red Skull? At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, the villain was seen being sucked into space by the Tesseract, and in the time since we've received no clues in regards to his whereabouts. Naturally, this has left a few fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a bit disgruntled, but now directors Joe and Anthony Russo have gone on record explaining why the great HYDRA leader was absent from their movie.

Featured as guests on a recent episode of AMC Movie Talk, the filmmakers were asked about why Red Skull failed to make an appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and their explanation was pretty straight-forward: he simply didn't match the tone and atmosphere of the movie. After revealing that there was some talk of the character being in the sequel prior to their involvement, they said that he was simply out of place in the kind of story they wanted to tell. Explained Joe Russo,

"I know we have a guy in a computer, but the tone we were chasing was sort of that conspiracy thriller. And we wanted to try and ground the movie as much as we could. And Red Skull, he’s a fantastical character and didn’t necessarily fit for Cap 2 and especially because it was about the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Certainly HYDRA exists and that’s his legacy, but there’s something interesting about the fact that his legacy outlived the skull. And they’re still dealing with the demons of it, but not necessarily him.”

While I understand the legacy part of the argument and believe that Captain America: The Winter Soldier functions perfectly without Red Skull, I'm not 100% sure I'm on-board with this reasoning. Sure, the villain's head is pretty bizarre and fantastical, but it comes as the result of the same comic book science that created both Captain America and The Winter Soldier. I understand not wanting to deal with more cosmic forces and the like, which would likely be necessary in bringing Red Skull back, but I'm not sure his exclusion for being a "fantastical character" is really fair.

Of course, just because Red Skull wasn't in Captain America 2 doesn't mean that he's no longer going to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Joe Russo added that his absence in the recent sequel "doesn’t preclude him from returning," offering that he is arguably the most important character in Cap's rogues gallery. "It didn’t necessarily make sense for Cap 2 though," he added.

So what does the future hold for Red Skull? The upcoming Captain America 3 is the title most likely to feature his reemergence, though Hugo Weaving has gone on record saying that he may not be interested in repeating the role. Does that mean recasting is coming in the future? If it does come to that, I would love to see Christoph Waltz take up the role, but I'll leave that for you guys to discuss in the comments section below.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.