Johann Shmidt (Red Skull)

redskullfilmIn Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when Captain America and Black Widow discover Anim Zola‘s hideout, the good old scientist offers a summary of HYDRA‘s history via monitor. Of course, at the very beginning of the recap, Zola shows the image of HYDRA’s founder and leader, the Red Skull, portrayed by Hugo Weaving. In The First Avenger he acted as the main villain, being for the Axis the equivalent of Captain America for the Allies, until he decided Adolf Hitler‘s goal was far too puny for him and detached himself from Germany. He fought with Cap, until the Tesseract he carlessly used teleported him to an unknown location. The character had already appeared in the awful Captain America portrayed by Scott Paulin, but his origins were slightly changed: he was an Italian kid named Tadzio de Santis, kidnapped by Fascists and transformed into their super soldier. He survived through unknown means to our days, and kept threatening the world along with his daughter Valentina, before meeting his end at the hands of his nemesis, Captain America. While the comics version is more similar to the most recent movie one, there are still some differences: for example, the Skull has never been a part of HYDRA. Let’s see together.

Johann Shmidt was born in a small village near Munich, in Germany, son of drunkard Hermann Shmidt and his wife, Martha. The woman died of childbirth, and Hermann, overwhelmed with grief, tried to kill the baby, blaming him for her reskullcomics1death: only the obstetrical’s intervent saved baby Johann, and Hermann committed suicide the morning after, making his son an orphan. Raised in an orphanage, Johann soon escaped, surviving as both a beggar and a thief on the streets of Munich. Escaping from an older boy who wanted him to steal for him, Johann took refuge in the shop of a Jew man, and lied to him telling he was of a Jew family himself, and that he had been attacked by Nazis’ sympathizers because of his origins. The man offered help to him, and Johann finally found a job in his shop, meeting the first person treating him nicely. He fell in love with the man’s daughter, Esther, but when she rejected him, he was fueled with a blind rage, that brought him to beat the girl to death and flee. He went in and out of jail for minor crimes, until he eventually became a killer for hire, often on the paybill of Emil Beckert, a local crime boss who was an enemy of both Nazis and Communists. When Beckert ordered Shmidt to kill an old friend from the orphanage, Dieter Lehmann, Shmidt refused, and killed Beckert instead. A few days later, however, he left Dieter to be captured by Nazis and brought to Dachau, while he fled and, some months later, became a Brown Shirt himself. He made himself a name for being a young but pitiless recruit, characterised by unborn cruelty and brutality. When Dieter was freed from the concentration camp, he came back to Munich, pretending to be a Brown Shirt. Seeing how Johann was often object of ill-treatings and abuses by his superiors, Dieter easily convinced him to join his conspiracy to kill Hitler himself. When the two boys, pretending to be bellhops, arrived close to the newly elected High Chancellor, however, Johann remembered all the lessons he learnt during his years on the streets, about the struggle for survival and the essential cruel nature of the world: spotting an opportunity, he grabbed the gun from his only friend’s hands, and killed him with a headshot. Hitler, impressed, offered him a position as his right-hand man, to be molded by him into one of the worst monsters the world would have ever seen.

Trained at first as a regular SS officer, Shmidt was later taken into custody by Hitler himself, who wanted to make something more out of him: he gave him a red-skull-shaped mask and named him the Rote Schädel (the Red Skull), an agent second only to himself. reskullcomics2The Red Skull received an intensive physical training, became an expert tactician, and received a deep brainwashing, that made him the “perfect Nazi”. He was mainly entrusted the task of spreading fear and terror between Germany’s enemies, and the atrocities committed by him during war brought the United States to create a costumed response to him, Captain America. The Skull was granted by Hitler, proud of his creature, anything he wanted, and fought his destined nemesis with an array of highly-technological weapons and a number of men at his disposal. When it became clear that, even if he admired Hitler’s ideology, the Red Skull was planning to replace him, even the Führer started to fear him, but was unable to control him. The Skull, meanwhile, suffered some major defeat by the hands of Captain America and his team, the Invaders, and developed a personal grudge against the American hero. When Germany’s defeat seemed to be inevitable, the Skull built for his Führer, who preferred to destroy the world rather than to leave it to his enemies, six powerful robots, the Sleepers, programmed to destroy everything in their path. He also received a pill for suspended reanimation by Arnim Zola, the Third Reich‘s main scientist: in his final days of the war, the Red Skull faced Cap once again in Berlin, and he tried to kill him with a granade. The Captain sent the explosive back to the Skull, and he was presumed dead in the following explosion, but he was only disfigured by it, with his new face grimly resembling his mask: the bunker he was fighting him later collapsed, and only Zola’s pill allowed the Skull to survive. He was found decades later by THEM, a team of HYDRA, the Nazi-inspired association founded by Baron Von Strucker: revived, with his mind in a new, stronger cloned body, the Red Skull was ready to bring to the pacified world a bit of the terror the old one learnt to know.

Johann Shmidt is a deranged and sadistic man, who interiorised the violence he suffered during his youth and turned it into a weapon to hurt the outside world. Feared by both enemies and allies, Shmidt became so cruel and ambitious that even Hitler was afraid of him. He’s one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the world, an expert swordsman, a skilled marksman, and a genius tactician; in his new, cloned body, he also possesses superhuman physical attributes equal to Captain America’s. Over the years, he has gained new weapons, such as the all-powerful Cosmic Cube, and new abilities: recently he has fused part of Charles Xavier‘s brain with his own, gaining telepathic powers. Unstoppable, pitiless, determined and intelligent, the Red Skull is the ultimate incarnation of evil, one of the most dreadful men history has ever known.

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27 Comments

  1. […] mental control, and when it was revealed that the telepathic supervillain was in league with the Red Skull, she allied with Captain Britain and Captain America to defeat both criminals. Synne’s […]

  2. […] on him; claiming he was repaying his debt, Jones revealed to Cap the location of his nemesis, the Red Skull, thus providing a distraction while his men looked for the Serpent Crown. After a long search, […]

  3. […] job, but unfortunately the new director himself proved to be a Nazi, working for the war criminal Red Skull. When the Skull decided to reveal himself, he ordered Radcliffe to launch a massive bombing on […]

  4. […] by blowing up a nightclub. He kept working with the Nazis, especially with his friend and ally Johann “Red Skull” Schmidt, and survived the fall of Germany by escaping from the Allies’ forces. Fiers was apparently […]

  5. […] tired of Strucker’s many losses, and ordered him to be executed. Luckily for the Baron, the Red Skull saw some potential in him, and sent him to Japan to find an independent Nazi organization, which […]

  6. […] unite and inspire the troops, and overall to counterbalance the spreading terror the masked madman Red Skull was seeding in Europe. Already the liaison of the scientific projects linked to the military […]

  7. […] Jones, one of the movie’s primary villains. In Captain America: The First Avenger he was Red Skull‘s right arm, a genius Nazi scientist who helped the Skull create HYDRA and run it. He was […]

  8. […] mission together, when they destroyed the robot called Fourth Sleeper (a legacy from the original Red Skull), finally Cap started reciprocating, and the two became lovers. When S.H.I.E.L.D. allowed Sharon to […]

  9. […] the teachers. With the fame coming from his new role, Rumlow entered in contact with the legendary Red Skull (actually the impostor Albert Malik) and, fascinated by his personality, entered his service as a […]

  10. […] controlled by the Exiles, a group of criminals who had been allies of the the Nazi criminal Red Skull during the War. On the island, Snap met Redwing, a wounded falcon he trained and formed a strong […]

  11. […] a multi-national company which Lukin could use to implement his power. Eager to collect the Red Skull‘s new Cosmic Cube, Lukin ordered the Winter Soldier to kill the Nazi war criminal. Barnes […]

  12. […] Swearing to keep his secret, James accompanied Captain America in his first mission against the Red Skull, a Nazi mastermind, and freed many war prisoners with the hero. James decided to become […]

  13. […] like Captain America and the Invaders against the Axis’ most fearsome villains, such as Red Skull or Baron Zemo, always succeeding in missions other teams would have believed to be impossible. […]

  14. […] a lumpy guy who was cured by the Super Soldier Serum and who battled his long time enemy the Red Skull in modern times after being frozen in Alaska. Now, let’s see who Rogers really is in the […]

  15. […] his Blitzkrieg Squad as a match for Dum-Dum. He also fought many other war enemies, such as the Red Skull, Colonel Klaue, the Agent of 1000 Faces and many others, also supernatural ones like the […]

  16. […] the danger a man like Howard Stark represented for the Third Reich, the Nazi mastermind Red Skull had him and his wife kidnapped. Howard and Maria were tortured for days by the Skull, who wanted […]

  17. […] Seeking for personal power, Ophelia left Hydra, and started a criminal career on her own. She helped Jordan Stryke, a powerful supervillain known as the Viper, escape from his prison in Virginia, but when the two finally broke out, she executed him, taking for herself his name. Introducing herself with Stryke’s head, the new Viper took control of the villain’s team, the Serpent Squad, and brought it back to action. Along with the Squad, the Viper took control of the powerful artifact known as the Serpent Crown, a weapon smithed millennia before Christ by the Serpent Men, a race created by the snake-god Set. Viper used the Crown to break the will of Hugh Jones, President of Roxxon Oil, one of the most powerful multinationals in America. Captain America intervened once again and stopped Viper from her plan, which included taking control of many other leaders of echonomy and politics. After some battles with Nomad and Namor the Sub-Mariner, Viper abandoned the Serpent Squad, and created a personal terrorist cell. She hired the Japanese mutant Silver Samurai as her personal bodyguard, and she eventually fell in love with him, even if the two of them could never start a real relationship (at some point, she was forced by her superiors, using the debt of honor that bond him to her, to marry Wolverine instead, a man she despised). After a failed attempt to take control of the Yashida Clan, a powerful criminal organization whose leader, Lord Shingen, had died because of the intervention of Wolverine and the other X-Men, Viper came back to the US, but in San Francisco her will was taken over by her old ally, the god Chthon, who used her as a pawn to destroy Jessica Drew, the superheroine Spider-Woman. Chthon wanted to use Jessica as a vessel to come to our world, and brainwashed Viper to make her think she was Meriem Drew, Spider-Woman’s long time dead mother. For the occasion, he also granted Viper a special eye, a black orb through which she could send anyone to Chthon’s dimension; she used it on Spider-Woman, but, realizing she had been used, she rebelled to her former ally, and defeated him teaming up with Spider-Woman. After that event, she came back to her usual criminal life, coming back to Hydra and becoming its leader, often clashing with the others pretenders to the title, including the Red Skull. […]

  18. […] spy Nick Fury, who enlisted him in his black ops team, the Avengers, in a mission to stop a Red Skull imitator from creating a Fourth Reich. In exchange of his service with the Avengers, all of […]

  19. […] villain, the second Jack O’Lantern, this time working for the new/old leader of Hydra, the Red Skull himself. Serving under the Skull, Blackwing and Jack O’Lantern fought Captain America, and […]

  20. […] York City to train pidgeons. Redwing was with Sam when the international supervillain known as Red Skull brainwashed him and sent him to the island of the Exiles, a group of criminals: the plot was meant […]

  21. […] party and Hydra, and entered in contact with notorious war criminals such as Arnim Zola and the Red Skull. Using his intellect and resources, and the others’ experience, he would have led a major […]

  22. […] often the target of foreigner powers, and in 1941 tha Nazis targeted it in the persons of the Red Skull and Baron Strucker: to protect the country and aid King Azzuri in dealing with the […]

  23. […] Nazis however had some aces up their sleeve, and they had sent two of their Super Soldiers, the Red Skull and the Master Man, behind enemy lines, and they had conquered the village of Kronas to use it […]

  24. […] another villain from casualgamer‘s list: Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull. She appeared in the low-budget (and low-minded) 1990 Captain America movie, portrayed […]

  25. […] in Europe. Jeff joined the other heroes another time, when Bucky asked for his help after the Red Skull had brainwashed the Invaders, Captain America included: the Patriot contacted other heroes […]

  26. […] try and steal some of the sanctuary’s powerful artifacts to potentiate their war might: when Red Skull tried to invade the place to obtain the Eye of Agamotto, Hamir was at the Ancient One’s […]

  27. […] man who choses scrawny Steve Rogers as a test subject (he’s also the one who created the Red Skull in the first place, but he doesn’t seem so proud of that). Killed at the beginning of the […]


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