Avengers: Endgame tied up a lot of loose ends.
After the heartbreaking loss the Marvel Cinematic Universe suffered at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the remaining Avengers were able to Time Heist their way to another Infinity Gauntlet — and return half the planet’s population. However, the success came at a cost. Tony Stark sacrificed his life to undo the Snap, and Natasha Romanoff sacrificed herself at Vormir for the Soul Stone.
That sacrifice may be the key to the MCU’s new villain after Thanos. Here’s how.
TikTokker @bunnycinema posed a simple question in their video: How did Contessa Valentina know how Natasha died on Vormir? She said Clint killed her, but it’s unlikely that the official story would be released to the public. So how did Val get that insider info to tell Yelena in the Black Widow post-credits scene?
Fellow TikTokker @kingvonschweetz answers this question with a simple theory: Val heard how Natasha died from the only other person who was there: Red Skull. Could Val be a ploy for Red Skull’s reemergence in the MCU? There’s a surprising amount of evidence for this to be true.
Firstly, the Russo brothers tweeted in a watch-along that Red Skull was only exiled to Vormir to guard the Soul Stone. With no stone to guard, he would be free to roam the galaxy as he sees fit. He may have used this newfound freedom to recruit a new team to revive Hydra and create a new empire.
There’s also precedent for this reveal, too. In the comics, Contessa Valentina is revealed to be a double agent and is, in fact, Madame Hydra all along. Could her alliance with HYDRA be reflected in her live-action character as well? It certainly would explain Valentina’s sudden appearance in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — she could be looking for a way for Red Skull to avenge Captain America in Captain America 4, even if a new person holds that title.
However, there’s one tiny hitch in this plan. Canonically, Steve Rogers returned the Infinity Stones to the exact moment in time they belonged. Does this mean Red Skull was bound to Vormir again, or was his exile voided as soon as the stone was taken? If he were still there when Captain America returned the stone, that would have been an awkward encounter, so maybe he had already escaped by then.
Bringing Red Skull back to the MCU would both bring Captain America’s story full circle and set up the second reign of HYDRA, with Contessa Valentina as his sidekick. Marvel’s all about sequels, so why not include HYDRA 2 in the mix?
Avengers: Endgame is now streaming on Disney+.