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Johann Schmidt

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Red Skull redirects here. For the character from the 1990 film, see Tadzio de Santis.
Johann Schmidt
Red Skull
Alias(es) Red Skull
Appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger
Actor Hugo Weaving
"You could have the power of the gods! Yet you wear a flag on your chest and think you fight a battle of nations! I have seen the future, Captain! There are no flags!"
―Red Skull[src]

Johann Schmidt, also known as the Red Skull, is a German ex-SS officer and scientist who has his own branch of the Third Reich Army under his command known as HYDRA.


Captain America: The First Avenger

Johann Schmidt was an SS officer who reached the rank of Obergruppenführer (Lieutenant General) and got into Hitler's inner circle. He believed in some of Hitler's stories that many other Nazis didn't and became to have an obsession for the ocultism. Then he created his own branch known as HYDRA, named after the mythological creature, which became Hitler's deep science division. Dr. Abraham Erkshine had been forced to test the super soldier serum on Johann Schmidt, corrupt and greedy for power. After the serum had been used on Schmidt, he not only developed a darker nature but it also had physical side effects.

Schmidt then invade a castle in Norway searching for an artifact he calls "The jewel of Odin's treasure room". The Tesseract is said to give it's finder unbelievable power and Schmidt believed it would give him power. A monk tries to stop him from stealing it but Johann shoots and kills him. Schmidt and Nazi scientist, Arnim Zola experiment with the artifact which is really the cosmic cube and attempt to harness its power. Then they started to create their own wunderwaffe using the Tesseract´s power. Schmidt then kills three SS officers when they learn HYDRA wants to take over every country in the world, including Germany. Schmidt reveals that his cause is looking beyond Hitler's plans and imagination, and that HYDRA won't grow up under Hitler´s shadow. So he becomes an enemy and traitor of the Axis powers.

While on a solo rescue mission, Steve Rogers briefly confronts Schmidt. After Dr. Zola stops the fight, Schmidt tears away the skin on his face revealing that he is the Red Skull (he became Red Skull after the super soldier serum was tested on him). The Red Skull and Zola retreat. The Red Skull grew frustrated as Captain America destroyed all but one of his factories, killing his men who failed to stop him. After the Howling Commandos captured Zola, Rogers went to the Red Skull's last fortress. After his men captured the Red Skull asked Rodgers what made him special. After the Red Skull's questions, Allied troops under Col. Phillips Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos stormed it. The Red Skull then took off in his jet destroy the US with the energy from the cosmic cube.

After subduing his pilots and their bombs, the Red Skull and Captain America fight within the cockpit ending in a stalemate as the battle damages the cube power core. The Red Skull picks up the Cube, forgetting that it cannot be held by mortal hands. Thus the Cube incinerates Schmidt, who is presumed dead, and his remains appear to be transported across space toward what resembles Yggdrasil from Thor .

His overall fate after this is unknown.

The Avengers

"You know, the last time I was in Germany and saw a man standing above everybody else, we ended up disagreeing."
Steve Rogers[src]

Years later, when Steve Rogers comes face to face with Loki in Stuttgart, Germany he refers to either Schmidt or Adolf Hitler.

Character traits

Johann Schmidt is a megalomaniac and egocentric genius who firmly believes in Nietzsche's theory of Übermensch (beoynd-human), a race of superhuman beings destined to rule the normal ones. Believing himself to be such a man, he used both magic and science to obtain a central position in Hitler's army, until his conceit arrived to the point of believing to be greater than Hitler himself, thus starting a plan to overthrow him. Schmidt is pitiless and cruel, but also a scientific genius, who's able to see beyond appearances and managed to see the truth behind myths believed to be superstition, in reality fragments of Asgardian origin.

As a result of the formula developed by Abraham Erskine, Schmidt was horribly disfigured, but also obtained incredible attributes, such as an enormous strength, speed, stamina and reflexes, and got even his intelligence increased, becoming a war mastermind. In combat, he uses canonical firearms, but after retrieving the Tesseract, he gained access to a source of energy the like of which has never be seen, and used it to implement his weapons.

Schmidt was said to be a fully-fledged supporter of the Nazi Party until the incident which left him deformed. He claims that he was isolated to his palace in the Alps because he "no longer shares Hitler's image of Aryan Perfection". Though he is disillusioned by the Fuhrer's ideals, he is still morally devoid and capable of mass murder.


  • The Serum severely disfigured Schmidt's appearance, but it did enhanced all of his body natural abilities to the peak of human potential.

Serum Abilites

  • Peak Human Strength: The Red Skull's physical strength can match Steve to the very peak of human potential.
  • Peak Human Speed: The Red Skull is able to run at a speed of approximately 30 miles per hour.
  • 'Peak Human Agility: The Red Skull have agility superior to that of any Olympic athlete.
  • Peak Human Stamina: Schmidt's musculature produces less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of an ordinary human.
  • Peak Human Reflexes: Schmidt's reflexes are similarly enhanced and are superior to those of the finest athlete.
  • Peak Human Durability: His bones and muscles are denser and harder than normal, to the highest human potential, which makes him very durable compared to a normal human.
  • Peak Human Mental Process: His mental performance has been greatly enhanced, allowing his mind to operate in the most efficient and rapid manner possible.
  • Peak Human Healing: Schmidt's healing speed and efficiency is at the highest limits of human potential, which means he can heal faster than most humans.


Behind the Scenes

  • Hugo Weaving based the Red Skull's accent on renowned German filmmakers Werner Herzog and Klaus Maria Brandauer.
  • About the character, Weaving remarked, "I think the major difference between Skull and Cap, they've both had the serum, and the serum seems to augment certain qualities that each of them have. Cap is much more in tune with other people I think. Schmidt is in tune with himself, and his own needs, and his own ego, so I suppose it augments that. From that point of view, they're quite opposite."
  • The Red Skull searches for a powerful artifact, the Cosmic Cube. By coincidence, in the 2007 film Transformers, Hugo Weaving voiced the villain Megatron, who also searched for a similar cosmic cube-shaped relic.



  • In the comics, the Red Skull was Hitler´s right hand, second in command and personal assassin. Red Skull has no relationships with HYDRA although he helped Baron von Strucker (the original HYDRA's director) to escape from Germany and to organize HYDRA in the Japanese-occupied territory in the final days of WWII.


Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: First Vengeance


See Also

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