If you still haven't seen Infinity War yet, there will be some big SPOILERS below, so be sure to read on at your own risk. One of the biggest surprises in Avengers: Infinity War was the return of a character long thought to be dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But that surprise was just the tip of the iceberg, since the character wasn't played by the original actor. This is your last chance to avoid SPOILERS, so if you have seen Avengers: Infinity War, please proceed. If not, be warned that a big surprise is spoiled below.
Avengers: Infinity War finally revealed where the Soul Stone has been hiding all this time, on a planet known as Vormir, but the biggest surprise was its guardian, Red Skull, the nefarious villain from 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. The Red Skull reveals that he has been tasked with guarding the Soul Stone, as a penance for touching the Space Stone with his bare hands in Captain America: The First Avenger. What you may not have noticed, unless you paid extra attention during the credits, was that Red Skull was not played by Hugo Weaving, who played Red Skull in The First Avenger, but rather by The Walking Dead star and noted celebrity impressionist Ross Marquand. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor reveals that he's unsure if Marvel will have him back for future movies, including Avengers 4.
"I don't know. I can't speak to that, and I think that I would obviously love to play that role again anytime. It's such a rich character, especially now that he's gone to this intergalactic hellscape and he's found his own prison there, not to quote Creed. That was a Creed song, right? But he's a changed man, and I don't even know if he is a man anymore. He's almost like this ghostlike deity, and he's at the service of the Soul Stone now, and his sole purpose is to essentially guide people to this, but you have to wonder: Is there still a part of him that does have ambition? I don't know. It would be really cool to see where that character goes. But that's really a question for all the folks at Marvel and the Russo brothers and the writers. I certainly couldn't speak to that."
While there had long been rumors of the Red Skull resurfacing in previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, that never came to fruition, and Hugo Weaving himself made it clear in a 2012 interview with Collider that, while he enjoyed playing the Red Skull, "It's not something I would want to do again." With that in mind, the Russo Brothers sought out an actor who could best imitate Hugo Weaving's performance, who they found in Ross Marquand, whose celebrity impression videos have gone viral in the past. Here's what Marquand had to say about what Marvel and the Russo Brothers were looking for when bringing him on.
The biggest thing that Marvel wanted to do was come as close to the iconic role that Hugo Weaving portrayed seven years ago and pay homage to it while also giving it a new flavor. Once Red Skull touched the Tesseract, he goes into this intergalactic astral plane for 70 years. And as the Russo brothers pointed out to me, because I was trying to do a straight voice match to Hugo's performance, they said, 'You know, he's been by himself essentially in this intergalactic prison of his own making for 70 years. He's going to sound a little different. We want him to have this kind of ethereal almost ghost-like quality to his voice, so please try that.' I think the reference they might have given is Yoda-esque. His ambition has brought him this great pain, but also this great wisdom, and I think that's what I tried to imbue that performance with. I just loved playing this part because I genuinely used to draw Red Skull, Omega Red and all these other villains as a kid, and it was just such a geeky pleasure to play this part. I just absolutely love it."
During his interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor added that it took him about a week and a half to perfect the voice, which he did by trying to combine Weaving's voice as Agent Smith from The Matrix with the German accent he used as Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. He also added that the non-disclosure agreement Marvel made him sign was, "no joke," to the point that he couldn't even tell his guest to the premiere who he was playing. Avengers 4 has already completed principal photography so it seems unlikely that Marquand will be brought back for Avengers 4, but given his immense talent to replicate practically any voice he hears, it wouldn't be surprising if Marvel called upon him in the future.