Though he does not get much credit as an MCU villain, Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull was a fairly effective early antagonist in the Marvel Universe. As Captain America’s most famous foe, he was an obvious choice for the main villain in Captain America: The First Avenger and finally returned to the MCU with a surprise appearance in Avengers: Infinity War.
Red Skull was not only a powerful super-soldier who could go toe-to-toe with Steve Rogers in a fight, he was also an intelligent villain with a warped yet fascinating outlook on the world. This provided a number of memorable quotes from Red Skull that stand out in the MCU.
10 « Hail Hydra! »
Though he didn’t play as big of a role in the MCU as some fans would have hoped, Red Skull did leave an impact on the franchise in a number of ways. For instance, he was the first character to say the infamous phrase « Hail Hydra! »
While it became a secret code that’s shared by members of the evil organization, when Red Skull first says it, the moment shows how terrifyingly ambitious his plans are. He has deemed the Nazi party ineffective and has built his own new superpower that will conquer the world.
9 « Not A Scratch, Doctor. Not A Scratch. »
Captain America: The First Avenger embraces its pulpy comic book origins more than most MCU movies. Red Skull is the perfect villain for this kind of story that is willing to not take itself so seriously and his extravagant car is a perfect addition to his over-the-top persona.
When Captain America attacks his base, Red Skull flees in a one-man plane. He then tosses his car keys to Arnim Zola and warns him not to scratch them. This is a rare moment of humor from the villain and shows he cares more about his car than his minions.
8 « Evidently Not. »
While Red Skull is fairly dismissive of Zola, he treats him much better than most of his other underlings. It seems that Red Skull sees his soldiers as completely expendable and doesn’t hesitate to kill them if necessary.
When Red Skull comes across one of his factories that Captain America has destroyed, the last surviving man apologizes to him. He insists they fought until the last man died, but Red Skull points out that’s not technically true and shoots the man in cold blood.
7 « And The Führer Digs For Trinkets In The Desert. »
The movie opens with Red Skull invading a town in Norway where he finds the hidden Tesseract. As Red Skull admires the powerful artifact, he says to himself, « And the Führer digs for trinkets in the desert. »
While some might not think twice about the line, many fans picked up on this cool reference to the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Nazi’s search for the Ark of the Covenant in that movie. It is also a subtle hint that the Tesseract is even more powerful than that artifact.
6 « Great Power Has Always Baffled Primitive Men. »
There is an interesting aspect to Red Skull’s character as he was once a respected member of the Nazi party but fell from grace. He is obviously very bitter towards Hitler and makes no attempt to hide his contempt from the Nazi officers who come to inspect his work.
After one of the officers mockingly asks him if he believes magic will win the war, Red Skull corrects him that it is actually science but doesn’t expect someone as primitive as him to understand. It is a humorous example of how superior Red Skull seems himself.
5 « Quite Simply, Gentlemen, I Have Harnessed The Power Of The Gods. »
Not only does Red Skull see himself as superior, but he also seems to think he is owed the power of the Tesseract. When explaining to the Nazi officers what he and Zola have accomplished with the powerful artifact he proclaims it to be the power of the gods which he has harnessed.
However, the way Red Skull says this line is so matter-of-fact, it is as if he thinks this was an inevitability. He is so mad with power that he believes it is simply destiny for him to have world-ending power in his hands.
4 « If They Cut Off One Head, Two More Shall Take Its Place. »
It is interesting to see Red Skull create Hydra in this movie and then see how it further spreads throughout the MCU. When speaking to his troops before their final plan is set in motion, Red Skull confidently tells them, « If they cut off one head, two more shall take its place. »
While this sounds like a typical sinister bad guy line at first, it actually turns out to be quite prophetic for the future. Captain America believes he defeats Hydra in this movie only to realize in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that it has come back and grown to be more powerful than ever.
3 « You Pretend To Be A Simple Soldier, But In Reality, You Are Just Afraid To Admit That We Have Left Humanity Behind. »
It has become a bit of a cliché in the MCU now that the villain is often just a mirror image of the hero. However, in the case of Captain America and Red Skull, this is actually a pretty interesting element for their dynamic.
Both of these men became super soldiers from the same formula, and as Erskine explains, it transforms bad into worse and changes good into better. While Steve Rogers made himself a symbol of how good humanity could be, Red Skull saw himself as superior to humanity.
2 « We All Think That At First. We Are All Wrong. »
Red Skull was last seen being sucked into space by the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger. After a while, many fans just figured he was never coming back and forgot about him. That made his appearance as the Stonekeeper in Avengers: Infinity War all the more surprising.
He first appears coming out of the shadows to greet Thanos and Gamora on Vormir. When he explains the Soul Stone comes at a great price, Thanos insists he’s ready to pay it. Red Skull hints that he thought the same but was wrong. Red Skull’s weary words show that even in the afterlife, he can still change and become more meditative than he ever was while alive.
1 « I Have Seen The Future, Captain! There Are No Flags! »
The best MCU villains, like Thanos and Killmonger, all have an interesting point of view. It doesn’t have to be easy to agree with, but it makes the audience understand why they see themselves as right.
Red Skull doesn’t get the opportunity to have his ideology explored too deeply but there are some hints to his point of view. During their final battle, Red Skull criticizes Captain America battling for nations when there is a grander universe out there. He sees a future without flags, which interestingly is the same philosophy adopted by the Flag Smashers in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
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