Marvel just snuck the Red Skull back into the MCU.
That's right. The Captain America Villain with the all too literal name. Just take a moment and let that sink in. All together? Excellent because here's how, oh and of course potential spoilers for future MCU films along with the current Agent's of SHIELD episode.
Let's start with what we know of the Red Skull. Last seen in the Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull was working towards global destruction, with the help of Dr. Arnim Zola and HYDRA. Discovering the tesseract, and nearly wiping out all the major cities of America circa WWII, he was eventually consumed by the tesseract while in battle with the good Captain.
Although many had hoped for the return of the character (because let's be honest, in the world of comic book glory no one stay dead forever), the possibility seemed dim. The Red Skull, a.k.a. Johan Schmidt, was gone, presumed dead. And after the time jump in the first Captain America to his next venture with the Avengers, life had moved on and the Red Skull faded to the history of Hydra. To to that all off, Hugo Weaving, who portrayed Johan Schmidt, had openly said he wasn't interested in continuing the role.
So how could the Skull Return?
Well the most recent season of SHIELD, and Tuesday Night's mid-season opener tells us. That is to say they go all but say it!
All of Season Three has been focused on Hydra, run by a man named Gideon Mallick, attempting to reach the planet that Agent Simmon's was trapped on at the end of Season 2. Not just reach but bring something back!
Simmons on the alien planet
On this planet, a creature trying to escape, a parasite using a body as a host to keep it alive.
This is the Red Skull!
Currently using Hydra Agnet/former SHIELD Agnet Grant ward as his host. Look at that, his face even looks extra skull-y!
Ward's return with this parasite has Hydra Commander Mallick under his service, and who do we know of that has such pull with Hydra, and sent into space? None other than Johan Schmidt.
Okay, I know I said that Schmidt was consumed by the tesseract. Let me explain! Been paying attention the last few Marvel-ous movies? They're collecting infinity stones, and the tesseract is one of them. The Space Stone specifically, capable of many things including: instanteous travel to pretty much anywhere in the universe! Want to learn more on the stones, check out my article of the infinity stones here: https://moviepilot.com/posts/2561451
More to the point, the Red Skull was not only consumed but transported by the tesseract to the planet that Hydra was trying to get to. All to retrieve there precious leader. How the Skull, or at least Schmidts personality, has become this parasitic thing I haven't a clue. I'm sure it could be explained away by the teleportation and super hero serum coupled with pretty with pretty much anything at this point.
It frees up the character, relinquishes any continuity issues with not having Hugo Weaving return, and makes for one hell of an antagonist for the Agent's of SHIELD.
But most certainly, the Skull is alive, and he's hiding in Grant Ward. Well played Marvel, well played.