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In the epic tale of ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ Marvel introduced the fascinating concept of infinity stones, each possessing a unique power that can alter the fate of the universe. Among these stones, the Soul Stone stood out as the enigma, shrouded in mystery and guarded by none other than the diabolical Red Skull. This unexpected pairing left many fans wondering why Marvel chose this iconic villain to be so intricately tied to such a significant component of the movie. As we delve into the captivating reasons behind Marvel’s decision, it becomes clear that Red Skull’s role in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is far more than a mere plot device – it is an extraordinary nod to both the character’s rich history and the underlying themes of the Marvel universe.
The Infinity Saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universewas surrounded by mystery, following Thanos (Josh Brolin) in his quest of gathering all the Infinity Stones to reduce all existing life in the universe by half. Apparently, one of these magical artifacts turned out to be more complicated to figure out than the rest of them, given its direct connection to the characters and the plot of Avengers: Infinity War. During a Q&A session after Collider’s screening of the film back in 2018, Joe and Anthony Russo, the filmmakers behind the project,were eager to discuss why they had to be careful while dealing with the Soul Stone:
“We knew that we needed to do something special with that stone, but we knew that we also needed it to have an emotional connection to the plot and to Thanos as a character. I think it was the last stone that we figured out where it was because that was the hardest story to come up with. It was really when, the point where we decided that the movie was Thanos’ movie, we needed the lowest moment of the film to belong to him, so that’s when we started to develop the Soul Stone story. How could we create pain? How could we dimensionalize him so he went on this journey during the film?”
The emotional connection the directors were talking about was the fact that any person that wants to get close to the Soul Stone has to sacrifice something charged with a lot of meaning to them — someone that they love. In Thanos’ case, this would come in the form of his adopted daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldaña). As a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the warrior was smart enough to know that a confrontation with Thanos would probably lead to her death, prompting her to keep her newfound family away from him as much as she could. She would turn out to be right, as she would lose her life when the Mad Titan retrieved the Soul Stone.
Another curious reveal regarding the Soul Stone was how it was guarded by a character Marvel fans hadn’t seen on the big screen in a very long time. The Red Skull (Ross Marquand) was back after disappearing during the final moments of Captain America: The First Avenger. While Hugo Weavingoriginated the characterin that movie, the actor couldn’t return for the epic crossover because he and the studio couldn’t agree on an appropriate paycheck, leaving Marvel Studios to make the decision to recast the villainous role. During the Q&A Joe Russo explained that Red Skull has “been on a journey” since his “mystical ending” in Captain America. He said, “He’s a wraith now. He is a slave to the stones. He’s no longer the same person. He’s transcendent. He’s a ghost.” Russo went on to explain why he was the right character to bring back for this Infinity Stone:
“I think he was always that character. I think we may have played around once or twice in it not being him, but we needed someone the audience would trust, so that when he explained the rules of how you obtain the stone, that they would believe the character. I think it was [Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely who fought really hard to have him back in the film.”
How Does the Soul Stone Work?
Thanos’ acquisition of the Soul Stone swiftly became a point of no return for the villain as Joe Russo explained that “The Soul Stone obviously has the ability to manipulate your soul, the essence of who you are.” During the conversation, Russo would go on to explain some of the things that the Soul Stone allows you to do in exchange for your soul. “One key moment where it’s used is where Doctor Strange turns into multiple Stranges and then Thanos uses the Soul Stone to eradicate all the fake Stranges and momentarily shoves Strange out of his own body,” Russo said. “Strange has to pull himself back in.” Then later, “when Thanos goes to the Soul Stone itself, to speak to his dead daughter, he obviously has an ability to resurrect, conjure the spiritual representation of the people who are dead.”
The End of an Era
Thanos’ attack would end up devastating the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Five years after the release of Infinity War, its consequences could still be seen in projects such as WandaVisionand the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. The conflict with the unstoppable villain was also the final time Robert Downey Jr.played the role of Tony Stark, ushering the franchise into a new era where different faces would take the lead. It remains to be seen if Earth’s mightiest heroes can be as strong as they were back then when they face a powerful new threat in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
You can check out Collider’s interview with Joe and Anthony Russo below:
In conclusion, Marvel’s decision to tie Red Skull to the Soul Stone in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is a masterstroke. The choice not only aligns with the character’s background and previous portrayal but also adds depth and continuity to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Red Skull’s obsession with power and desire to conquer perfectly mirrors the Stone’s dark and enigmatic nature. Moreover, the inclusion of a long-lost character like Red Skull creates a nostalgic link to the earlier films in the franchise, pleasing hardcore fans. By making this bold choice, Marvel has effectively enhanced the storytelling and mythos surrounding the Soul Stone, leaving audiences eager for more surprises in future Marvel films.
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