In a recent interview with New York City's Hot 97, Nick Fury actor Samuel L. Jackson may have dropped a bombshell for the Marvel Cinematic Universe - namely the return of the Red Skull.
Over the course of the interview, Jackson spoke several times about his involvment in Marvel movies, saying he's still contracted for at least two more films in his nine-picture deal with the studio, and lamenting that he's not included in the majority black cast of Black Panther.
However, Jackson rounded out the interview by assuring listeners that Nick Fury is still part of the MCU, despite his absence from Captain America: Civil War. In explaining his non-involvement in that film, Jackson seemed to imply that Fury had been looking for "the Skull."
"No, they're not letting my black ass go through Wakanda. I was trying, I asked... But I'm in the universe. You didn't see me in Civil War. I'm still trying to figure out what... the Skull... is going to-"
Jackson's final words were cut off by the show's host, so further context is lacking. However, Jackson appears to have said Fury has been trying to "figure out what the Skull is going to do." Naturally, it seems like he may be discussing the Red Skull, the Captain America villain who appeared in Cap's first solo movie, but hasn't been seen since. Nearly every Captain America or Avengers movie since has been accompanied by rumors and speculation that the Red Skull would return in the film.
Adding to that, Red Skull actor Hugo Weaving recently changed his tune from a hard pass on resuming the role to being slightly more open to it, telling Yahoo! Movies "In terms of me going back and doing another one, I don’t know. I’m not sure what they’re up to with the Red Skull."
Likewise, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has left the Skull's return an open possibility. There's also a way to bring him back already in place, as Red Skull was last seen being sucked into the Tesseract - one of the Infinity Stones that are central to Avengers: Infinity War.
However, there are a few things working against the idea that the Red Skull could be returning.
First and foremost, Jackson also told MTV International that, as of this week, he's not involved in Infinity War, and has not heard from Marvel about appearing in the film. If that's the case, how or why would Jackson know about one of the most guarded secrets and pervasive rumors of the MCU? It's not impossible he's seen a script even if he's not in the film, but then he'd likely know how Nick Fury fits into the story, if at all.
There's also the possibility that Jackson misspoke and was referring to Hydra, who, in MCU continuity, was founded by the Red Skull and has a skull in its logo. Hydra is also a longtime enemy of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., both in comic books and on film. In the interview, it's clear in the audio that Jackson is gathering his thoughts before trailing off. Could he be trying to figure out what he's allowed to say? Or could it be a matter of misremembering a small but crucial detail?
So why would Red Skull re-appearing now be more likely that at any time in the intervening six years since Captain America: The First Avenger? Well, Marvel themselves are highlighting the Red Skull and Hydra more in both their comic book storylines and in the live-action Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the former launching off the fact that Red Skull obtained a new Tessaract- called a Cosmic Cube in comic books - and subverted Steve Rogers' past to indoctrinate him into being a Hydra sleeper agent - something even movie star Chris Evans (you know, Steve Rogers) had time to comment about on Twitter.
With a renewed presence in Marvel's line and in its TV branch, it is possible Red Skull and Hydra could be returning to Marvel's movies.