It seems as though Marvel has a plan for Red Skull, and while no one seems to know what that is, the fact that Hugo Weaving was asked to return as the character has many people speculating. Should Marvel be planning on bringing Red Skull back via the MCU, here are some of the ways it could do it, as well as some of the reasons why his re-inclusion would be beneficial to the brand.
As A Free Man Who Can Do What He Wants
Should Red Skull return to the MCU, it's already confirmed he'll no longer be bound to the will of the Soul Stone. The Russo's confirmed that once Thanos obtained the Stone, Red Skull was free to leave Vormir and do whatever he wants, free from its influence. This includes pursuing an Infinity Stone if he should so choose, provided he's willing to roll the dice again on a potential banishment.
Of course, we're talking about an exiled super-Nazi who's been enslaved by sentient Stones for several decades, so it's not like his options are completely open to doing a ton outside the world of villainy. The Russos' specific mention that Red Skull could pursue an Infinity Stone seem to strongly hint that he will, likely to fulfill his long-held dream of world domination. Who knows though, he might shock everyone and chill on a remote island until this all blows over.
As A Villain With Powers From The Soul Stone
Red Skull's appearance in Avengers: Infinity War was quite a shock, especially considering he seemed far removed from the man he was in Captain America. While he's no longer cursed to stay on Vormir, it's possible some of the powers granted to him remained post-freedom. The details of what those powers may be are a bit foggy, but he was able to know Gamora and Thanos before they introduced themselves.
Red Skull also gained some humility from his 70 years as a prisoner of the Soul Stone, and while that's technically not a power, it's something he desperately needed. A self-aware Red Skull with a checked ego may help him better achieve his goals for world domination and make fewer mistakes the next time a hero tries to stop him. That's a dangerous thought considering the impact his return may have on the world, especially now of all times.
As Pre-Serum Johann Schmidt
Just because Hugo Weaving wasn't down for a return as Red Skull in Avengers: Infinity War doesn't mean he doesn't stand a chance of returning in Avengers 4. With time travel rumored to be an element in the film, all it would take is a scene around World War II or prior to incorporate Johann Schmidt in some way.
That's a big if, of course, as Ross Marquand stepping in to portray the villain could mean that Hugo Weaving is done with that character. That's not so problematic for present-day and future storylines involving Red Skull, but would almost certainly mean he won't be appearing with his original face, a.k.a. the face he shares with Weaving. We'll just have to wait and see what happens and whether Avengers 4 would even need to feature Weaving's Red Skull persona.
As An Asset To The Avengers
Red Skull may be a key asset to the Avengers in Avengers 4. His time as a servant to the Soul Stone could've given him some valuable information regarding how that and the other Infinity Stones work, as well as secrets behind how they can be utilized to reverse what happened in Avengers: Infinity War. Red Skull could offer up the information at a price, or perhaps be "persuaded" by a hero not willing to negotiate with a Nazi.
He might even offer up information without a struggle, as those decades spent as a wraith really appeared to mellow him out. Of course, we're not expecting him to flip sides and be a reformed good guy, but perhaps Red Skull may understand that in helping the Avengers, he's furthering his own personal interests and keeping them off his back. Meanwhile, he can work on his comeback uninterrupted and be back more powerful than ever before anyone can stop him.
As The Villain That Is Keeping Chris Evans From Retiring
After what feels like a solid year of mourning his inevitable retirement, MCU fans were blindsided by the recent news that Chris Evans might not be done with the role after all. That's great news, especially with the revelation that his greatest foe is free from his obligations to the Soul Stone and able to do as he pleases.
That and the fact that Red Skull's age was frozen in his prime feels like Marvel is setting the stage for he and Cap to clash again. Whether that goes down in Avengers 4 or another new Captain America film is another story and what expert Marvel theorists are trying to figure out. Red Skull coming back to the MCU in a meaningful way is a delightful treat, but in another movie to square off with Cap? That's the dream.
As A Villain For Bucky And Sam
Remember that Winter Soldier and Falcon limited series headed to Disney+? In the case that Captain America does die and Red Skull is on the loose, it kind of makes sense the burden of capturing him would fall on these two. Red Skull's return to Earth might just pave the way for whatever premise this project has in store and give these two heroes a thrilling adventure to tackle on streaming.
Anything's possible, and it might be why Disney tapped Ross Marquand to replace Hugo Weaving as opposed to just letting the character fade into obscurity. Obviously there's a plan for Red Skull, so even if his presumed presence in Avengers 4 is fast and fleeting and Chris Evans does end up retiring as Captain America, keep in mind this is always an avenue in which the villain could return for a longer adventure.
MCU fans eager to share ways they think Red Skull could be reintroduced into the franchise need do nothing more than share their thoughts in the comments below. Meanwhile, we at CinemaBlend are still waiting for the big Avengers 4 trailer release. For more on that, get some analysis on the wait and when it could arrive from Managing Director Sean O'Connell.