Red Skull is a male comic supervillain who features in Marvel Comics.
Johann Shmidt was a male human who was born in the early part of the 20th century. There were multiple varying accounts about his origins that had been said over the years.
The true account was that he was born in 1914 with his mother having died during the child birth. He grew up at the Munich Home for Wayward Boys during the Weimar Republic in one of the greatest depressions in Germany history. Around this time, there was great social strife as Adolf Hitler arose to power at the head of the Nazi Party. On November 1923, Shmidt was 9 years old when he was regularly disciplined and suffered brutal punishment at the hands of the orphanage's headmaster. During this time, his only friend was a boy named Dieter Lehmann with Johann helping protect a stray puppy he had found from a dog catcher with the headmaster allowing the boys to keep the pet. One day, Johann went outside to attend a march that was being made by the Nazi Party that was being held by the city hall. (Red Skull v1 #1)
Around 1942, he came to suspect that Nazi Germany could potentially lose World War II and had Arnim Zola create a clone of himself that was to activate in the future if ever the Red Skull was slain. (Uncanny Avengers v1 #2)
In 1944, agents of his were dispatched to Tibet to find a mystical weapon for use by Nazi Germany. They discovered the Amulet of Agamotto that was in the care of the Ancient One. The powerful master of the mystical arts were betrayed by his disciple Baron Mordo allowing the Nazi's to drug him and his servant Hamir allowing the pair to be captured. They were brought to the Red Skull to harness the power when this moment was interrupted by the arrival of Captain America and Bucky. At that point, the Red Skull was transported into the Dark Dimension by Dormammu who sought the Amulet of Agamotto. (Captain America - Nick Fury The Otherworld War v1 #1)
Within his new clone body, Schmidt was younger and a form that had the Supersoldier-Serum. At the time, Castle Zola was in the midst of an attack by a team of assassins looking to eliminate him. This saw the defences activating and Arnim Zola dispatching Doughboy to deal with the intruders. Despite their numbers, the team were all defeated but instead of being killed they were taken alive for interrogation. This allowed Schmidt to personally interrogating the captives where he demanded to know who was their employer. They told him that their employer was the Red Skull with this angering Schmidt who started killing those assassins that gave him this answer. Zola came to warn him that they only had one survivor left with Schmidt revealing that he was the true Red Skull and that the other person was an imposter. The lone survivor though was not afraid and claimed he could defeat Schmidt if he was free with the Red Skull decided to give him his wish. He wanted to test his clone body against a worthy opponent where the mercenary showed impressive strength. However, he was defeated but his ability caught the Red Skull's notice who offered the man a place as his right hand enforcer. The man accepted as he always wanted to work for the Red Skull with Schmidt giving him the name Crossbones and sent him to undergo further training. (Captain America v1 #383)
He later fashioned the identity of Dell Rusk where he spent years infiltrating the U.S. government and implementing his rise to power. By this point, he had abandoned the idea of a Fourth Reich and believed that America itself could be moulded through fear and control to be the perfect nation. He then used A.I.M. brainwashing technology along with financial support and other heavy handed means to secure his position where he as Rusk rose to the position o Secretary of Defence. (Avengers v3 #69)
In a fortified bunker, the clone of the Red Skull awakened from his 70 year slumber and awoke to continue his plans for the world. He went through media reports and came to determine that dying Mutant race were the greatest danger to mankind which needed to be eliminated. Thus, he embarked on a plan to exterminate the Mutant race leading to him creating his S-Men and also stealing the deceased of Professor X to remove his brain which was the fused to his own making him among the world's most powerful telepaths. (Uncanny Avengers v1 #2)
Personality and attributes
According to one account, he was originally a nameless orphan who grew up on the streets until taken in by Hitler who gave him the persona of the Red Skull. (Tales of Suspense v1 #66) In German, he was known as der Rote Schadel (Translation: The Red Skull). (Adventures of Captain America v1 #3) When he infiltrated the U.S. government, he took on the identity of Dell Rusk that was an anagram of the Red Skull. (Avengers v3 #68)
From a young age, he felt only envy, jealousy and hatred for all mankind. It was these traits that drew the attention of Adolf Hitler when he encountered the young boy that became the Red Skull. The young man was an inspiration to the Fuehrer who wanted to mould him into becoming his greatest achievement and the perfect Nazi. Thus, he came to serve as the right hand of Hitler and told that he would never fell in his assignments. It was then that he underwent training but Adolf Hitler did not want a mere stormtrooper but wanted the man to be evil personified. It was this chain of events that led to the fashioning of his Red Skull persona where he was only answerable to Hitler himself. Thus, he was given power to match the hatred he felt for the world. (Tales of Suspense v1 #66)
The Red Skull believed in the use of fear to motivate others. (Tales of Suspense v1 #66)
Powers and abilities
He had a reputation for his fighting prowess to which the Red Skull claimed that he could not be taken down easily. The Red Skull from a young age was taken in by Hitler himself who personally oversaw his harsh brutal training. He was a skilled and deadly marksman where he was able to shoot the button's of a person's uniform. (Tales of Suspense v1 #66)
A deadly weapon in his arsenal was the Dust of Death that when exposed to others caused their skin to tighten around the victims face and shrivel whilst it taking a red discolouration with all hair falling out leaving the person's resultant corpse resembling a red skull. (Captain America v1 #184)
The clone of the Red Skull once dissected the dead body of Charles Xavier and removed his brain which he fused with his own giving him the Mutant's powerful telepathic abilities. This allowed him to not only communicate with telepathy but also control the minds of others. (Uncanny Avengers v1 #2)
At one time, he had a castle in Berchtesgaden which was where he and the Fuehrer conspired to rule mankind. (Captain America v1 #119) He also maintained an old ramshackle manor known as Skull-House. (Captain America v1 #293)
During World War II, he made use of Das Vernichtungs-Kommandos (Translation: Killing-Squad) that were a team of superpowered operatives sent on key assignments. (Adventures of Captain America v1 #1) He once formed a secretive criminal cabal known as the New World Order. (Incredible Hulk v1 #404) Another team that followed him were the S-Men that were a band of super-powered humans who sought the extermination of all Mutants. (Uncanny Avengers v1 #2)
- The Red Skull was created by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby and France Herron where he made his first appearance in Captain America Comics v1 #7 (October, 1941).
- Artist Jack Kirby commented in an interview on Earth Watch WBAI radio, "As for the Red Skull, I was growing up. It was a period when I was growing up and I finally asked myself why am I making this Red Skull so evil. Why is he such a bad guy. And I felt there was a story behind that, behind the Red Skull, and I began to think of him as a person."
- Writer Greg Pak in an interview on CBR commented on his story about the Red Skull, ""I think there's an emotional truth to how the character comes about. Some horrific things happened to him early on, and at the same time his home country, Germany, one of the most civilized and cultured nations in Europe became horrific and barbaric. So we're seeing the rise of fascism and Nazism in Germany through this boy's story, and that's a huge opportunity."
- In Wolverine v3 #66 (2008), an alternate version of the Red Skull was shown to exist on the world designated as Earth-807128. This version was responsible for organising a supervillain uprising that saw the murder of various superheroes on the planet. This led to all the villains dividing the territories amongst themselves as the Red Skull declared himself the President of Amerika who ruled his domain in a time set 50 years in the future.
- In Red Skull v2 #1 (2015), an alternate version of the Red Skull was shown to reside on Battleworld Earth-15513.
In other media
- In The Marvel Super Heroes, the Red Skull appeared in the 1960s animated television series 'Captain America' segments where he was voiced by actor Paul Kligman.
- In Spider-Man, the Red Skull appeared in the 1981 animated television series where he was voiced by actor Peter Cullen.
- In Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, the Red Skull appeared in the animated television series where he was voiced once again by actor Peter Cullen.
- In X-Men, the Red Skull was briefly seen in a flashback in the 1990s animated television series episode "Old Soldiers" where he was voiced by actor Cedric Smith.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Red Skull appeared as an antagonist in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Steven Blum.
- In Avengers Assemble, the Red Skull appeared as an antagonist in the animated television series where he voiced by actor Liam O'Brien.
- In Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., the Red Skull appeared as an antagonist in the animated television series in the episode "Days of Future Smash: Year of the Hydra" where he was voiced by actor Liam O'Brien.
- In Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, the Red Skull appeared in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Motomu Kiyokawa.
- In Captain America, an alternate version of the Red Skull appeared in the setting of the 1990 live-action film where he was portrayed by actor Scott Paulin. This version was Tadzio de Santis who was a boy genius whose family was killed by Axis soldiers that tested the Super-Soldier Serum on him leaving him deformed and evil. He came to be an Italian officer but abandoned that life and instead became a Mafioso.
- In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Red Skull made multiple appearances in the shared continuity setting:
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull appeared as an antagonist in the live-action film where he was portrayed by actor Hugo Weaving.
- In Avengers: Infinity War, the Red Skull made an appearance in the live-action film where he was portrayed by actor Ross Marquand. It was shown that the Tesseract had transported him to the planet Vormir where the Soul Stone resided with the Skull being transformed into a ghostly guide of that Infinity Stone. He had made multiple attempts at acquiring its power but failed and instead being a guardian of the stone where he came to be referred to as the Stonekeeper.
- In Marvel Heroes, the Red Skull appeared as antagonist in the setting of the MMORPG video game. The story mode setting adapted the AXIS storyline with the Red Skull acquiring the brain of Charles Xavier and merging it with his own to give him powerful telepathic abilities which he used to wage a genocidal war against Mutants. At the height of the conflict, he was able to unlock the darker nature in Xavier to become the Red Onslaught but was defeated though not before unleashing a telepathic attack that inverted the personalities of various individuals.
- In Marvel: Future Fight, the Red Skull appeared as a playable character in the iOS video game.
- In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, the Red Skull appeared in the setting of the Switch video game where he was again voiced by actor Liam O'Brien.
- Captain America Comics v1:
- Captain America v1:
- Tales of Suspense v1:
- Adventures of Captain America v1':
- Avengers v3:
- Red Skull v1:
- Uncanny Avengers v1:
- Captain America: