Avengers: Endgame scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have revealed that they considered teaming up Captain America and the Red Skull. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were always envisioned as the climax of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a celebration of the shared universe Marvel had built over the course of the last decade.
The two films saw the MCU’s greatest heroes team up against the threat of Thanos, the Mad Titan who was determined to erase half the life in the universe with a snap of his fingers. The most exciting possibilities were unexpected, unprecedented team-ups; Iron Man working with Doctor Strange, War Machine with Rocket Raccoon from the Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course the assembled might of Captain Marvel and the A-Force.
But Marvel considered some even more unusual team-ups. Speaking at a dedicated “Writing Avengers: Endgame” panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 (via CBR), Markus and McFeely revealed that Marvel considered forcing Captain America and the Red Skull to work together. Marvel had composed a so-called “Manifesto” of loose ends that the writers could tie together through time travel, and the Red Skull was numbered among them. “In the manifesto document, there was one theory that [it was] Cap who goes to space,” Markus remembered, “and he has to collaborate with Red Skull to get the Stone.” While it was an interesting idea, it was never developed.
Captain America: The First Avenger was Markus and McFeely’s first script for Marvel Studios, and Markus noted that they’d always had a vague idea that the Red Skull could return. “We did send him to space and send him away very much on purpose,” he noted, although he confessed at the time he had no idea where the Red Skull had been transported by the Tesseract.
It sounds as though Marvel never really developed the idea of a Captain America/Red Skull team-up; in fact, the idea seems to predate the concept of “a soul for a soul,” that a sacrifice has to be made by anyone who seeks to acquire the Soul Stone. As Markus and McFeely developed the idea of the Soul Stone and worked out how it fit into their plot, they saw another role for the Red Skull; he could have been transported to Vormir, where he had become guardian of the Soul Stone. Over the years, the Red Skull’s proximity to the Soul Stone had led to his very soul being consumed, and he was left just a shadow of a man. By the time Steve Rogers arrived on Vormir returning the Soul Stone at the end of Avengers: Endgame, it’s possible the Red Skull wouldn’t even have recognized him – or cared about him.
More: Why Marvel Recast Red Skull For Avengers: Infinity War