History Comicbook / RedSkull

21st Jul '16 11:18:45 AM LadyJaneGrey
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* KickTheSonOfABitch: Magneto once kidnapped the Skull and locked him in an abandoned fallout shelter, telling him that death would be too good for him and that he wanted the Skull to wish that Magneto ''had'' killed him after the coming ordeal. The shelter was completely empty except for some jugs of water, which Magneto advised the Skull to conserve, and had no light source. So for weeks, the Skull was locked in a dark room with concrete walls, slowly starving to death. He raged, pounded on the walls, tried in vain to reach the exit high above him, sobbed, and eventually began hallucinating. By the time he was found by Crossbones, Mother Night, and Machinesmith, he was utterly broken and wished to die.

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* KickTheSonOfABitch: Magneto once kidnapped the Skull and locked him in an abandoned fallout shelter, telling him that death would be too good for him and that he wanted the Skull to wish that Magneto ''had'' killed him after the coming ordeal. The shelter was completely empty except for some jugs of water, which Magneto advised the Skull to conserve, and had no light source. So for weeks, the Skull was locked in a dark room with concrete walls, slowly starving to death. He raged, pounded on the walls, tried in vain to reach the exit high above him, sobbed, and eventually began hallucinating. By the time he was found by Crossbones, Mother Night, and Machinesmith, he was utterly broken and wished to die. (And even then, he didn't learn a thing; the first thing he said when he was able to was an oath of revenge against Magneto.)
21st Jul '16 11:16:04 AM LadyJaneGrey
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* TheManBehindTheMan: He has been revealed to be the secret leader, founder, and/or financer of many evil organizations, including [[KnightTemplar the Watchdogs]], the [[DisposableSuperheroMaker Power Brokers]], [[KillerVigilante Scourge of the Underworld]], [[AntiHumanAlliance the Resistants]], and for a while, [[BombThrowingAnarchist U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.]]. (The Flag-Smasher, who founded them, regained control and executed any member loyal to the Skull.) While the Skull cares little for their goals and motives, each group benefits him in some way.

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* TheManBehindTheMan: He has been revealed to be the secret leader, founder, and/or financer of many evil organizations, including [[KnightTemplar [[WellIntentionedExtremist the Watchdogs]], the [[DisposableSuperheroMaker Power Brokers]], [[KillerVigilante [[KnightTemplar Scourge of the Underworld]], [[AntiHumanAlliance the Resistants]], and for a while, [[BombThrowingAnarchist U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.]]. (The Flag-Smasher, who founded them, regained control and executed any member loyal to the Skull.) While the Skull cares little for their goals and motives, each group benefits him in some way.
16th Jul '16 7:46:41 PM LadyJaneGrey
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* AsLongAsThereIsOneMan: A villainous example. Paraphrasing his dialogue, as long as he and others like him keep fighting, the flame of Nazism will shine in the darkness of democracy, and not be extinguished, no matter how many of them the US forces kill.



* TheManBehindTheMan: He has been revealed to be the secret leader of many evil organizations, including [[KnightTemplar the Watchdogs]], the [[DisposableSuperheroMaker Power Brokers]], [[KillerVigilante Scourge of the Underworld]], and for a while, [[BombThrowingAnarchist U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.]]. (The Flag-Smasher, who founded them, regained control and executed any member loyal to the Skull.)

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* TheManBehindTheMan: He has been revealed to be the secret leader leader, founder, and/or financer of many evil organizations, including [[KnightTemplar the Watchdogs]], the [[DisposableSuperheroMaker Power Brokers]], [[KillerVigilante Scourge of the Underworld]], [[AntiHumanAlliance the Resistants]], and for a while, [[BombThrowingAnarchist U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.]]. (The Flag-Smasher, who founded them, regained control and executed any member loyal to the Skull.)) While the Skull cares little for their goals and motives, each group benefits him in some way.


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* YouCannotKillAnIdea: A villainous example. Paraphrasing his dialogue, as long as he and others like him keep fighting, the flame of Nazism will shine in the darkness of democracy, and not be extinguished, no matter how many of them the US forces kill.
16th Jul '16 8:52:16 AM IdumeanPatriot
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* ArmchairMilitary: Averted; he is shown doing a lot of high-level planning, as you would expect from a senior officer, but he has plenty of first-hand experience of war, and knows what it is like. And when there is a job that only a SuperSoldier like himself can pull off, he puts on the fatigues again for the occasion.



* TheBully: Terrorizes and often kills his own subordinates ForTheEvulz, routinely; savagely beat and sadistically abused his girlfriend, one of his most devoted followers; big fan of RevengeByProxy; tends to laugh like a lunatic when causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

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* TheBully: Especially the Nineties Dark Age version. Terrorizes and often kills his own subordinates ForTheEvulz, routinely; savagely beat and sadistically abused his girlfriend, one of his most devoted followers; big fan of RevengeByProxy; tends to laugh like a lunatic when causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.people.
* ByronicHero: Some versions can be more or less this, much like the real Hitler fits the checklist. (It is important to remember that "hero" in this context does '' '''not''' '' mean "good guy," or even necessarily sympathetic.) When written like this, the Skull is intelligent, passionate, philosophical and very much haunted by his past, all of which makes him a sort of tragic but darkly compelling Nietzschean figure on perpetual collision course with liberal society, a very "existential" character. However, other versions lack this sort of depth, being straight-up [[CardCarryingVillain Card-Carrying Villains]].


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* CapeBusters: The special force he personally trained and deployed to fight the mutants. They were depicted as a small BadassArmy equipped with advanced weapons and heavy armor, incorporating [[AntiMagic special shielding]] against telepathy and electromagnetism (presumably to protect them against the game-breaking powers of [[PsychicPowers Professor X]] and [[SelectiveMagnetism Magneto]], respectively).


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* TheChainsOfCommanding: Seemingly averted in many depictions, where he gladly accepts, if not indeed craves, power. Some stories, however, reveal that one reason he misses Hitler is the safety and comfort of JustFollowingOrders. Now that he is in charge, it is he who must shoulder the Fuehrer's burden, and take on his awful responsibility for the future fate of Nazism.


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* DeepCoverAgent: The Golden Age Red Skull's real name was John Maxon, an aerospace tycoon and major American defense contractor. (Basically William Boeing as a Nazi agent; he even [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed looked more than a bit like him]].) The more familiar Skull is German-born, but utilizes [[MasterOfDisguise several fake identities]] to attain positions of authority and power in America. Notably, "Dell Rusk" became the ''Secretary of Defense'' of the United States, a [[MoleInCharge very successful infiltration]], to say the least.


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* {{Dehumanization}}: In the 1970s, he wouldn't insult Falcon, because giving even that much attention to "black vermin" was beneath his dignity. And in a more modern comic, he makes a clear difference between humanity and his racial enemies when expounding on how the world will change under his rule -- though whether he's talking about [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain Africans]] or [[FantasticRacism mutants]] isn't clear in this instance:
-->'''Red Skull''': Genetic pigs, polluting our world, will be relegated to their appropriate stations--'''servants of man.'''


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* DivergentCharacterEvolution: Originally, Red Skull and Doctor Zemo were pretty much interchangeable as "masked Nazi supervillains who are Captain America's ArchEnemy". This is probably because Zemo was originally intended to be the Skull's Silver Age [[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute replacement]] in Cap's post-war stories. But Stan Lee decided to bring back the Skull as well, [[DroppedABridgeOnHim and Zemo got killed off]]. However, later writers have mined the character for World War II-era stories, and developed him considerably; he was given storylines of his own, an aristocratic origin (he is now best known as ''Baron'' Zemo) and a distinctive character. Now, his established position is that of the Skull's chief historical rival in the Nazi hierarchy, a role that plays both on [[NotSoDifferent how similar]] they still are in many ways and how their [[BlueBlood differing]] [[SelfMadeMan backgrounds]] nevertheless make them resent each other.


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* DoomTroops: Generally speaking, his modern-day neo-Nazi troops tend to be this, typically wearing imposing, all-black uniforms vaguely patterned on the original (pre-1938) SS design. Some also sport face-concealing helmets, and even low-grade powered armor on occasion.


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* DuelingMessiahs: With Captain America, in stories that play up their ideological enmity. Both are champions of their respective ideologies: Captain America stands for an individualist liberalism that does not believe in hierarchy or discrimination on account of race, sex, nationality or creed, but does believe in democracy and moderate capitalism, whereas the Red Skull's Nazism is grounded in a collectivist, hierarchical, racist and "organic" view of the world that distrusts democracy and capitalism in favor of technocratic planning. Both are totally convinced that their ideological vision is the right one, not just for their own countries, but for all the world, and both fight the other's system to their last breath whenever given half an opportunity. Neither will rest until he has made the world safe for the true way, liberalism or Nazism, democracy or dictatorship.


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* {{Expy}}: In many stories, Red Skull functions as one for Hitler, sharing many of his character traits (either real or the [[ArtisticLicenseHistory pop-culture version]] of them, depending on how much research the writer has done). Baron Zemo also originally functioned as one for the Skull himself in the early ''Avengers'' comics, before Marvel decided to re-imagine him for their modern stories.


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* FantasticallyIndifferent: Some authors write him as having [[HairTriggerTemper very little]] self-control, but usually it requires something ''very'' unusual to unsettle him. Whether he is coolly wading through an ongoing battle or calmly and politely addressing a PhysicalGod, he takes most situations in a stride, even when one would think them highly exotic or stressful.


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* GoodRepublicEvilEmpire: Works both for him ''and'' his enemies. Americans, of course, view Nazi Germany as an evil empire [[note]]The German word ''Reich'' can be translated "empire," though this is not the best rendering[[/note]] and their own republic as good; Red Skull, on the other hand, like Hitler considers the dictatorial Nazi style of government a sort of [[UnusualEuphemism "Germanic democracy"]], and rails against ruthless [[EagleLand "American Imperialism"]] carried out under a mere window-dressing of democratic values.


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* HadToBeSharp: He first survived growing up alone in the streets in a country suffering political and economic meltdown. Then he survived World War II, on the losing side. ''Then'' he survived spending decades on the run, hunted by the victor powers as War Criminal Number One. As he explains to an adversary, in terms that evoke [[Film/TheDarkKnightRises Nolan's Bane]], his opponent may be a skilled and well-trained fighter, but his whole ''life'' has been little but struggle, making fighting its very essence.


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* MajorInjuryUnderreaction: Sometimes played straight, sometimes played with. See elsewhere on this page for one recent example.


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* MasterSwordsman: Not something he gets to show off often, since, well, on a modern battlefield, swords [[ArchaicWeaponForAnAdvancedAge just aren't all that practical]]. But on the few occasions where he wields one, he's deadly.


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* OpposedMentors: The ''Sentinel of Liberty'' miniseries gives Franklin Roosevelt an expanded role as a mentor of sorts, and certainly inspiration, for Captain America. The Skull's mentor and everlasting inspiration, of course, is Hitler.


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* ARealManIsAKiller: Surprisingly, averted; when the Skull is called upon to kill a man as part of his training as a Nazi agent, he manages to avoid it, [[TakeAThirdOption in a way]] that still establishes respect for him with his handlers. However, he does believe that a man should be prepared, not just to die, but to kill [[PatrioticFervor for his country]] in times of war.


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* RebelliousSpirit: Subverted. He is actually a quite extreme "law and order" advocate who wants his ideal utopia to be strictly regular and regulated, with [[RepressiveButEfficient "a place for everyone and everyone in his place"]] -- including himself. However, his hatred and contempt for what he sees as decadent, permissive and deeply immoral present-day democratic society sometimes makes him act like this: he deliberately flaunts ''"modern"'' social conventions, for example by acting extremely "politically incorrectly," not because he is rebellious by temperament, but because he despises ''this'' society and takes pleasure in shocking its sensibilities.
** Also, the Dark Age version of the Skull was this very much, to the point of being quite the {{Troll}}, since he was a [[CardCarryingVillain Card-Carrying]] [[StrawNihilist Straw Anarchist]].


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* RedScare: Played straight with the Communist Skull in the 1950s. However, most versions (but ''especially'' the original, Golden Age one) rather represent the anti-Nazi "Brown Scare" mentioned on the page, which by 1941 had the US up in arms about supposed Nazi spies, saboteurs and fifth columnists. The Skull and his various henchmen led various fantastic schemes to subvert America, frequently aided by disloyal German-Americans; and indeed, the comic [[{{Anvilicious}} encouraged the children who read it to report suspicious activities to the authorities.]]


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* RiskingTheKing: As a senior officer, Red Skull should ideally be far way from the battlefield, but is somewhat often found leading the operations he has planned in a very hands-on fashion. Obviously this is a dramatic conceit, but it may also be justified in many cases. Post-war, he simply might not have all that many men to spare on short notice, if his neo-fascist cells have recently taken a major beating, and during the war he might be fighting as a propaganda stunt, or possibly because the mission requires a SuperSoldier of his caliber, even if this also means risking a high-ranking staff officer.
* TheRival: In some stories, has traits of this with Cap. A straighter example would be fellow Nazi supervillain Baron Zemo. They are [[NotSoDifferent similar in many ways]], including wearing face-concealing red masks, but while the Skull is a SelfMadeMan and villainous WorkingClassHero from the humblest of backgrounds, Zemo is ''[[MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate Doctor]]'' Heinrich Zemo, ''[[BlueBlood 12th Baron Zemo]]'', a well-educated GentlemanAndAScholar from a long line of wealthy titled nobility. While they share the same national and ideological loyalties and aims, their differing backgrounds (and methods, to some degree) make them natural rivals: To the Skull, Zemo is a ShelteredAristocrat who does not truly understand the world, while Zemo thinks the Skull still has far too much of his LowerClassLout origins in him. Consequently, each wants to show the other up and demonstrate himself the better. However, both are man enough to [[WorthyOpponent grudgingly respect]] the other's abilities and accomplishment.


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* StiffUpperLip: He's not British, but otherwise he fits the stereotype to a tee, at least in many stories. In the most extreme depictions, he'll be shown casually smoking or having a drink in the middle of an active battlefield; even when not taken that far, he'll more often than not show himself remarkably cool under fire. Perhaps justified to some extent by his HyperAwareness, which gives him a much better grasp of the situation than most combatants, and so should counteract stress.
* StormingTheCastle: On that occasion when he briefly allied with Cap and Sharon Carter, they stormed a heavily defended military complex in the Nevada desert while chasing the Cosmic Cube. It was guarded by a regiment of US Army troops, but of course, they had [[OneManArmy three armies]] attacking them...


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* WarIsGlorious: A complicated case, which overlaps with...
* WarIsHell: His views on this are tortured and contradictory. Red Skull has seen total war, and knows it to be horrible; indeed, much of the darker side of his personality fits [[ShellShockedVeteran the long-term symptoms of combat fatigue]] quite well. He can (and does) [[BreakingLecture crush]] more naive characters by recounting the horrors of it. However, in some ways he also appreciates it, for two main reasons. First, he is ''[[ConsummateProfessional good]]'' at it, and takes a certain pride in that. Second, and more philosophically, he believes that, in spite of everything, war does sometimes show man at his finest as well as his worst: namely, in the readiness of the idealistic soldier to [[HeroicSacrifice suffer, kill and die for causes greater than himself.]]


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* WhatMeasureIsAMook: Since the Skull's minions tend to be [[AcceptableTarget Nazis]], they are among the few enemies it has always been OK for Captain America to kill in action, even back in the Silver Age when he generally adhered rather firmly to the ThouShaltNotKill rule otherwise. The Skull, of course, feels the same way about the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and assorted RedShirts on Cap's side, though that is to be expected, given that he is the villain.
4th Jul '16 4:25:28 PM LadyJaneGrey
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* TheManBehindTheMan: He has been revealed to be the secret leader of many evil organizations, including [[KnightTemplar the Watchdogs]], the [[DisposableSuperheroMaker Power Brokers]], [[KillerVigilante Scourge of the Underworld]], and for a while, [[BombThrowingAnarchist U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.]]. (The Flag-Smasher, who founded them, regained control and executed any member loyal to the Skull.)
2nd Jul '16 12:06:30 PM IdumeanPatriot
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* AbsoluteXenophobe: One of his stated long-term goals is to conquer and destroy the various alien empires that inhabit the Marvel universe. (Though [[NoMereWindmill considering]] how often these aliens have tried to attack and destroy ''earth'', it may perhaps be debated to what extent this is crazy or just ProperlyParanoid policy.) In one AlternateUniverse where he took over, he started putting this into practice. Oddly, he was [[SpeciesLoyalty nicer to his human enemies]], whom he didn't try to exterminate -- though he deported all Blacks to Africa and did various other politically incorrect things.



** He's an absolutely horrible parent to his own daughter, as well (perhaps even to a point where [[EvenEvilHasStandards his own father would be sickened]]). When she was born he originally planned on killing her, ''because she wasn't a boy.'' His first words upon seeing her were literally, "A daughter? Kill It!". And he would have if it wasn't for Mother Night convincing him to let her live. [[FateWorseThanDeath She's probably wishing that Mother Night didn't save her, considering what Red Skull does to her]]...

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** He's an absolutely horrible parent often written as a terrible father to his own daughter, daughter as well (perhaps even to a point where [[EvenEvilHasStandards his own father would be sickened]]). When she was born well, though exactly how much so varies between different stories; in at least one version, he originally planned on killing her, ''because she wasn't a boy.'' His first words upon seeing her were literally, "A daughter? Kill It!". And initially contemplated infanticide, out of disappointment that he would not have if it wasn't a male heir. At ''best'', Sin's upbringing embodies the ''non plus ultra'' of ToughLove. Also depending on the writer, she either hates him for Mother Night convincing him it or acknowledges it as necessary to let [[MiseryBuildsCharacter make her live. [[FateWorseThanDeath She's probably wishing who she is]] -- though not everyone would agree that Mother Night didn't save her, considering what Red Skull does to her]]...this was [[GoneHorriblyRight a good thing]].



** Though this [[DependingOnTheWriter depends somewhat on the writing]], also, making the enthusiasm of his subordinates less inexplicable. In many stories, he's more "harsh but fair" like a stereotypical German military martinet, and tends to lead by example. Notably, the specific examples listed above come from when he was at his all-time worst, in the [[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks Comics Dark Age]].



* BulletproofVest: He usually wears armor under his uniform, which makes it a little more plausible that he can survive so many gun fights -- or fist fights with borderline and not-so-borderline superhumans, for that matter.



* CallingCard: Of various kinds. Sometimes, he leaves a literal calling card with a red skull symbol on it, at others, a recording of some significant musical score (often Chopin's "Funeral March"). Done much less nowadays than in older comics. In some stories, he also has underlings do it in his name, [[GenreSavvy in order to distract and mislead the heroes]].



* ConsummateProfessional: When not written as a ranting villain. Whether as spymaster or general, he is usually cold, rational and sober in the execution of his duties, and very good at what he does.



* CoolVersusAwesome: In many/most of his appearances, but especially the World War II ones, for obvious reasons. These tend to pit the best and most iconic Nazi troops, led by a SuperSoldier Hitler expy, versus legendary teams of all-American heroes led by the ultimate red-white-and-blue CaptainPatriotic.



* CrooksAreBetterArmed: It's not usually played up, but in some versions the Skull is a borderline GunNut. Even in those where he isn't, he usually brings at least a sidearm to the fight; and when he expects serious trouble, he brings the artillery. Downplayed in the Silver Age, for obvious reasons.



* DependingOnTheArtist:
** How the Skull looks under the mask has varied somewhat with different comics; some give him a stereotypically Nordic tall, blond and handsome appearance, while in one early story he was dark-haired with a broad, vaguely Central European face. The default now agreed on seems to be a fairly but not extraordinarily attractive Celtic face, thin and somewhat pale with fiery red hair and sharp blue eyes; imagine something like [[ComicBook/{{Watchmen}} Rorschach]] unmasked, but handsomer and with straight hair.
** Also, how the "red skull" mask itself looks. Jack Kirby drew it like a vaguely "realistic" latex mask, with lips, eyelids and etc, but others make it into a bizarre affair with bony excrescences, exposed teeth, a free-hanging jawbone and lidless GlowingEyesOfDoom that must require serious animatronics to work.
*** This is also {{Lampshaded}} in one story, where the Skull's [[SuperheroTrophyShelf supervillain trophy shelf]] holds an assortment of skulls shaped in all the ways he has appeared over the years, implying that he switches between different masks for variety.



* {{Doppelganger}}: The Skull sometimes uses body doubles to confound his enemies. Made easier and more plausible by the fact that he's usually wearing a fully face-concealing mask, so it doesn't require plastic surgery or anything more exotic. Originally, this was invoked to [[ActuallyADoombot explain discrepancies]] in his portrayal in older comics, but he has since used it several times as a legitimate on-screen tactic.



* EstablishingCharacterMoment: For the modern Skull, a scene in his original origin story, where the young Johann Schmidt has just been given his new identity. As a test, he is ordered to gun down an innocent man, a Nazi officer who has failed at some offscreen task. The Skull can't very well refuse outright, so he [[TakeAThirdOption takes a third option]] and [[ImprobableAimingSkills shoots the buttons off the man's jacket]] without harming him, arguing that this will teach him enough of a lesson, and killing him would be wasteful. The combination of [[BadAss badassery]] and [[PragmaticVillainy pragmatism]] convinces his handler to pass him, and also essentially establishes the Skull's character for the rest of the series.



* EvilCannotComprehendGood: He doesn't understand why would a "superior being" like Captain America associate himself with "trash" like [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain racial minorities and gay people]].

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* EvilCannotComprehendGood: He doesn't does not understand why would a "superior being" man like [[WorthyOpponent Captain America America]] would associate himself with "trash" like such inferior people as [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain racial minorities and gay people]].homosexuals]].
* EvilColonialist: In some stories set before/during World War II, mainly when he attacks the fictional African region of [[ComicBook/BlackPanther Wankanda]].



* FriendshipMoment: He and his daughter do not always get along without friction, and their relationship varies with the writer, but in at least some stories they are shown to [[DaddysGirl genuinely care]] about each other. For example, in one oddly touching scene in ''Captain America: Reborn'' where the Skull suffers from [[WhatHaveIBecome cyborg depression]], she comforts him in a very uncharacteristically gentle manner; later in the same story, she appears sincerely worried when he is ill. The Skull is nicer to her than in some other incarnations, too, finally giving her some paternal [[SoProudOfYou approval and respect]] as he gets better.



* GloryDays: In general, his years of service to the formal Nazi state while it existed. Perhaps especially much the early years of World War II, when both Nazi Germany and he, personally, were at their peak power and prestige. It seemed as though the war would soon be won, with the Nazi dream victorious and a glorious future secured, as Germany and Europe were being rebuilt under the Fuehrer's benevolent guidance. Of course, things turned out rather differently. Now, Nazi Germany is long since gone, his admired mentor is dead, and the Skull's own position (in spite of his power and wealth) is a shadow of what it once was.



* HatesBeingTouched: Reacts with profound discomfort even to a friendly touch; sometimes he may strike out in reflexive anger. Presumably connected to his traumatic life experiences, as in real life this is a fairly typical symptom of PTSD and related syndromes.



* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Not the Skull himself, who is fictional, but Hitler and other real Nazis sometimes get this in the stories where he features. Depending on the writer, Hitler can be made either a raving CardCarryingVillain or things far darker still. In real life, well, Hitler ''[[UnderStatement obviously]]'' isn't considered a nice guy, but few historians believe he spent his dinners [[BadIsGoodAndGoodIsBad bragging]] about how ''evil'' he was.
** Also averted in some stories, where Hitler is portrayed as reasonable and nice, [[EvenEvilHasLovedOnes to his friends, at least]]. Needless to say, for a modern reader, this can easily be ''much scarier'' than older-comic Hitler who rants about being the most evil man of all time.



* HowTheMightyHaveFallen: The Skull himself, obviously, from powerful politician and general in a minor superpower to terrorist leader. Also his beloved Germany, or at least as he sees things: from Hitler's mighty Reich of [[DeliberateValuesDissonance power, truth and justice]] to the gutted ruin of today, infested with [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain immigrants, liberals and homosexuals]]. In at least one story he even explicitly invokes the trope.
-->'''Red Skull''': How far my proud homeland has fallen.



* IfYoureSoEvilEatThisKitten: As a young officer fresh out of training, his Nazi masters decide to test his devotion by ordering him to gun down a man in cold blood. The Skull, who apparently still has some moral scruples at this point, refuses, but does it [[TakeAThirdOption in a creative way]] that impresses them with his coldness (and [[ImprobableAimingSkills shooting abilities]]) while still leaving the man alive and unharmed.



* ImpossibleThief: Has acquired a number of quite incredibly well-guarded treasures from the US Government, HYDRA and various other parties over the years. [[PhantomThief Sometimes in person]], and sometimes he merely hires the right man for the job.
** Later had it happen to himself, when a rival group of villains stole his Cosmic Cube from his super-secure base.



* InadequateInheritor: Thought his daughter Synthia would be this, because [[MenAreBetterThanWomen "All women are too weak."]] Whether he [[{{Sucksessor}} had a point]] in doubting her abilities varies with the writing, though he is often portrayed as having been wrong; also, he did come to view her increasingly favorably as she got the chance to [[YouGoGirl prove herself]] to him.



* KnightOfCerebus: Can function as this when guest-starring in comics or adaptations outside the regular ''Captain America'' titles. Sometimes ''in'' them, too, for that matter, since as an ideological fanatic and ruthless political terrorist who (at least in his post-Silver Age appearances) tends to be ''deadly serious'' both in his plans and their execution, he makes for a considerable change of pace compared to some of the goofier regular villains. Add that he's pretty much the most PoliticallyIncorrectVillain in his setting (what with being a totally unrepentant Nazi bitter-ender and all), and it's rather to be expected that his stories usually come in darker tones than is otherwise the norm.



* LatexPerfection: To the point that he can convincingly wear another mask ''over'' his Skull mask, in some stories. ([[TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Mainly older ones.]])



* LonelyAtTheTop: Invoked in some stories, including ones where his world-conquest plans are successful. The Skull rules supreme and imposes his Nazi vision on the world ... but his ''personal'' life is still empty. All of his old friends from World War II are still dead, and he can't seem to make any new ones. [[{{Determinator}} Devotion to his ideals]] is all that keeps him going.



* MasterOfAll: At least some versions of the Skull are written like a sort of villainous Batman, and even those that aren't are generally ''very'' competent and competitive in widely ranging fields. Typically, he is portrayed as everything from martial arts master and dead shot to brilliant military strategist, and from super-spy and master of disguise to economics expert capable of massive currency manipulations. He also speaks several languages, plays the piano, and can quote more history, philosophy and various obscure lore from one field or another in the sciences and humanities than many of the setting's immortals have amassed.
** Justified, to whatever extent it can be, in that he is both a supergenius with PhotographicMemory, ''and'' a fanatical KnightTemplar who spends almost all the time he isn't engaged in villainous schemes training and studying to improve himself as much as possible.



** Notably, in one story he manages to get himself appointed ''Secretary of Defense of the United States'', under the alias Dell Rusk. Not only does this require ''extreme'' disguise and cover mastery to pass the background checks, but building up the cover identity to the point where he's not merely not suspected, but considered competent, suitable and sufficiently well-connected for this office ... Well, let's just say it's a bigger espionage coup than anything anyone has managed in real life, and leave it at that.[[note]]In real American history, there have been a few cases where very high-ranking government officials were exposed as Soviet agents, notably Harry Dexter White (Assistant Secretary of the Treasury). All such cases took place during World War II, when many naive Americans viewed the Soviets as trusted allies, and so waived many security checks for pro-Soviet officers. Needless to say, ''no'' Nazi has ever gotten anywhere near the US federal government.[[/note]]
* MasterPoisoner: As part of his spy/assassin tradecraft. His trademark is the "dust of death" poison described elsewhere on this page, but he's been shown to use various other substances over the years, always to good effect.



* MiseryBuildsCharacter: Invoked by the Skull (who has one of the most depressing backgrounds of comics characters, himself) when he raised his daughter. Since he's always HadToBeSharp, he holds any expression of "weakness" in deepest contempt, and believed she would need a [[TrainingFromHell very tough]] upbringing in order to develop to her full potential and (perhaps) become a worthy successor to him, should he die before his work is finished. Depending on the writer, she either hates him for this, is grateful for it, or both.
** He applies the same philosophy to himself, too, and lives frugally and pushes himself to the very limit in all kinds of TrainingFromHell in order to realize his ''own'' full potential, sorely needed just to stay alive with most of the world's most powerful people his sworn enemies. So at least, he's not being hypocritical about it.



* NeverBeHurtAgain: Part of the reason he joined the Nazis. When at his nicest, he doesn't ''just'' want revenge on the corrupt institutions -- though he wants that, too -- but seriously believes that Nazism will make life better for everyone, so others won't have to suffer like he did [[DeliberateValuesDissomance under the oppression of capitalism and democracy.]] At other times, he's written as a power-hungry ControlFreak who was so deeply scarred by his experiences of helplessness, chaos and poverty that he just wants order, safety and control at any price.

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* NeverBeHurtAgain: Part of the reason he joined the Nazis. When at his nicest, he doesn't ''just'' want revenge on the corrupt institutions -- though he wants that, too -- but seriously believes that Nazism will make life better for everyone, so others won't have to suffer like he did [[DeliberateValuesDissomance [[DeliberateValuesDissonance under the oppression of capitalism and democracy.]] At other times, he's written as a power-hungry ControlFreak who was so deeply scarred by his experiences of helplessness, chaos and poverty that he just wants order, safety and control at any price.


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* PresidentEvil: In those continuities where he succeeded Hitler as ruler of Nazi Germany, or otherwise acquired a position of formal political power.


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* RareGuns: His personal Lugers. These weapons ''were'' common in the Nazi era, but aren't nowadays, since they haven't been manufactured for a number of decades by now. Some also appear to have been extensively modded and customized from the way they're drawn, though this may be due to artistic limitations rather than something done intentionally.


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* RedAndBlackAndEvilAllOver: Especially when wearing a black SS uniform, or even a black suit when in civvies. Probably deliberately symbolic, as it fits with the Skull being [[CaptainGeographic Captain America's]] antithesis: Red, white and black are the traditional colors of Germany, and also of Nazism's swastika banner, just as red, white and blue are those of America. So, like Cap, he is sort of wearing his flag, only a little less obviously.


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* RogueAgent: In the movie and some other adaptations, where he leads the RenegadeSplinterFaction HYDRA rather than the Nazis. Averted in the comics, where his loyalty to Nazism is his defining character trait, except (arguably) for a period in the 1980s, when he was acting out of character for both [[CameBackWrong in-universe]] and [[NoSwastikas out-of-universe]] reasons. Indeed, in the comics he sometimes ''fights'' renegade Nazis, who seek to usurp the Nazi dream of which he considers himself the protector.


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* SelfMadeMan: Subverted a little, in that he owes his one chance in life to the Nazis, and specifically Hitler personally. However, this was precisely the one favor he got in life; everything else he has managed, including his meteoric rise from junior officer to Nazi oligarch, is due entirely to his own effort. He is equal parts proud of that and grateful to his mentor, whose encouragement and course in life (a RagsToRiches story vaguely similar to his own) ''inspired'' him to believe in himself and make the effort.


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* StrongFamilyResemblance: With Sin. They are both lightly built, of average height or slightly below, and redheads with [[IcyBlueEyes piercing blue eyes]] and somewhat thin, attractive faces. Though given the medium, this [[DependingOnTheArtist varies somewhat with the portrayal]].


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* TokenTrio: The main villains in the Brubaker run, with a little humor: An immigrant (the Skull), a lower-class white man (Crossbones) and a girl (Sin).


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* VoiceChangeling: It's specifically noted that as a MasterOfDisguise, he alters his voice (along with accent, body language, etc) to fit with the person he impersonates.


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* WilliamTelling: Done occasionally to demonstrate both his coolness under fire and his [[ImprobableAimingSkills marksmanship]]. One variation (in a surprisingly serious context, not at all played for laughs) occurs in his [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] origin story.
22nd Jun '16 4:43:54 PM IdumeanPatriot
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* AbsurdlyCoolCity: New York City, Reichsfuehrer Red Skull's seat of power in the AlternateUniverse where the Nazis conquered the world. It looks like a mixture of real New York, Nazi Berlin and the original Film/Metropolis, only more modern with features like giant telescreens and futuristic airships.

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* AbsurdlyCoolCity: New York City, Reichsfuehrer Red Skull's seat of power in the AlternateUniverse where the Nazis conquered the world. It looks like a mixture of real New York, Nazi Berlin and the original Film/Metropolis, Film/{{Metropolis}}, only more modern with features like giant telescreens and futuristic airships.



* AppealToNature: The way he justifies most of his ideology, from support of the traditional family to racism to [[EvilVegetarian vegetarianism]].

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* AppealToNature: The way he justifies most of his ideology, from support of AllElectionsAreSeriousBusiness: In Marvel, the traditional family 2008 elections were about to racism to [[EvilVegetarian vegetarianism]]. be won by a populist third-party candidate whose campaign was secretly financed by Red Skull.



* AlwaysWithYou: An unusual example, since it's ''Hitler'' who promises the Skull this. And it's true, too: he remains in his dreams and gives him guidance and new hope when he suffers his rare bouts of hopelessness and despair, almost like a sort of SpiritAdvisor.



* AppealToNature: The way he justifies most of his ideology, from support of the traditional family to racism to [[EvilVegetarian vegetarianism]].



*BlackShirt: Started out like one of these, before he became TheDragon, and finally the EvilOverlord himself.



*BrutalHonesty: When in the philosophical mood, can expound on the grimness of existence with positively [[NietzscheWannabe Schopenhauerian]] gloom.



* CompositeCharacter: The movieverse Skull is a hybrid of the comicverse Skull, Baron Von Strucker (founder of HYDRA), and Baron Zemo.

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* CompositeCharacter: The movieverse Skull is a hybrid of the comicverse Skull, Baron Von Strucker (founder (the founder of HYDRA), and Baron Zemo.Zemo (the Nazi superscientist), and the obscure villain Master Man (the Nazi agent who got boosted with a variant of Captain America's SuperSerum).



* DaddysLittleVillain: His daughter, Synthia. [[OffingTheOffspring He tried to kill her]] [[DisproportionateRetribution for not being a boy]], but she grew up into the kind of hateful homicidal maniac a father could be proud of. [[WellDoneSonGuy He still ignored her,]] but it's the effort that counts.

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* DaddysLittleVillain: His daughter, Synthia. [[OffingTheOffspring He tried to kill her]] contemplated killing the baby]] [[DisproportionateRetribution for not being a boy]], but she grew up into the kind of hateful homicidal Nazi maniac a father could be proud of. [[WellDoneSonGuy He still ignored her,]] but it's the effort that counts.



* DarwinistDesire: In the official novel. Generally averted in the comics.



* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: By the time the Nazis came into power, he had a regular (if menial) job and was able to support himself. However, he was still depressed, both with the meaninglessness of his own life and the [[ExtremeDoormat sad fate]] of Germany under the Republic. Then the Nazis showed the country [[VillainWithGoodPublicity a new hopeful vision of a better future for everyone]], and Hitler (whom he met by chance, at least in most stories) invited him to join them and help make a difference. He did, having finally found his GoalInLife.



* DisappointedInYou: In a delirious nightmare, when he was at the end of his strength, Hitler appeared to him and told him that he had ''failed'' him and the Nazi dream. It was probably the closest he has come to a total breakdown.



* DomesticAbuser: The villainess Mother Night is a truly terrible human being... but read the stories where she and the Skull were an item, and cringe. It was one of the most hideously abusive relationships in comics; the Skull beat her savagely, yelled and screamed at her for no reason, humiliated her in front of his subordinates, and refused to let her kill herself (which she requested because she thought, if he was beating her so much, [[LoveMartyr clearly she is failing him somehow]]) because "you'd like that, wouldn't you?", whereupon he promised to ''beat her some more''.

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* DomesticAbuser: The villainess Mother Night is a truly terrible human being... but read [[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks the stories stories]] where she and the Skull were an item, and cringe. It was one of the most hideously abusive relationships in comics; the Skull beat her savagely, yelled and screamed at her for no reason, humiliated her in front of his subordinates, and refused to let her kill herself (which she requested because she thought, if he was beating her so much, [[LoveMartyr clearly she is failing him somehow]]) because "you'd like that, wouldn't you?", whereupon he promised to ''beat her some more''.



* DrivenToVillainy: In the original version of his backstory, young Johann Schmidt never did anything seriously evil before he became Red Skull; his worst crime was stealing food when he was starving. However, he was brutally treated by nearly everyone else, and got NoSympathy from the law. The one group that gave him any help or respect as a human being was the Nazis, and hence he joined them and came to think of them as the good guys. It's strongly implied that if someone genuinely good had cared about him before that, he wouldn't have turned out the way he did. Even as Red Skull, he was initially unwilling to kill, though war and hatred has since [[ItGetsEasier desensitized]] him to it.
** Needless to say, this doesn't apply at all to those versions where he was ''born'' a CardCarryingVillain like a minor Antichrist.



* EnemyMine: In one story, he allied with Captain America against the [[XtremeKoolLetterz Kübe Kult]], a band of punkish modern neo-Nazis who had somehow obtained a [[ArtifactOfDoom Cosmic Cube]]. Made worse by the fact that the Cube was actually haunted by [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot the insane ghost of a genetically-engineered psychic clone of Adolph Hitler]], who planned to use its god-like powers to rewrite reality into a horrible, fetishistic mock-Nazi cyberpunk dystopia. Both Cap and the Skull agreed that they disliked this possible future ''more'' than each other.



* EvilerThanThou: When suffering from bad writing during TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks. In one such story, he called himself the "God of Madness" and the "Beating Heart of Evil," among other similar self-styled titles, while competing with other villains over who was the most evil of all. Otherwise usually averted, since he [[DeliberateValuesDissonance sees himself and the Nazis as the good guys]], [[WhatIsEvil and the heroes as evil]].



* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: [[LampShading Invoked]] by Captain America, who [[BadassBoast proclaims]] to the Skull that he'll always fail in the end -- because ''he'', Cap, will ''never let him'' win.
* FairPlayVillain: Sometimes, particularly in Silver Age stories. Usually averted, however, since, being an [[NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist ideological fanatic]], he is more concerned with achieving his goals than with playing games with the heroes for its own sake.



* FemaleMisogynist: Sin, who thinks [[ComicBook/Agent13 Sharon Carter]], of all people, is despicably weak and feminine. Her thoughts when Sharon is grieving over her fiancé's death:
-->Sin feels no empathy at all for Carter's anguish and loss. She despises her as a weakling who sucks up sympathy from gullible men. She is glad to be the agent of even more pain for her.



* ForYourOwnGood: He believes the masses are incapable of self-government, and any attempt at democracy will simply lead to behind-the-scenes rule by [[CorruptCorporateExecutive wealthy oligarchs]]. Thus they must be governed firmly by a "good" dictator, who can keep the monied powers in check.



* GoalInLife: Depending on the in-universe period, several. [[VisionaryVillain None of them is small, exactly.]]
** Before and during World War II, to serve the Nazi dream and give Germany security and victory.
** After the war, to rebuild Nazi Germany, greater and better than before, on a global scale, in order to vindicate his mentor's memory and bring about [[DeliberateValuesDissonance utopia]] for humanity.
** Once this is done, to take Man to the stars and inaugurate a bold new future of endless promise and expansion, far beyond any terrestrial limits.
** ... And as a side order, to [[EvilIsPetty get even with Captain America and friends.]]



* Gratuitous German: Almost mandatory for a Nazi villain. Has gradually become less badly spelled over the years.

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* Gratuitous German: GratuitousGerman: Almost mandatory for a Nazi villain.villain; in some older works, combined with FunetikAksent. Has gradually become less badly spelled over the years. Some versions, however, notably when written by De Matteis, use outright fake and ''invented'' German words.


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* InspirationalInsult: Has been on the receiving end of it a few times (from Hitler; he wouldn't tolerate them from anyone else), and can also dish them out quite liberally when training minions or trading barbs with allies.


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* ItIsBeyondSaving: Varies with the writing, and perhaps also with the Skull's moods. Generally speaking, he believes "the West" can still be "saved" and reformed -- by [[PuttingOnTheReich adopting National Socialism]], of course. In some stories, however, he hates [[DemocracyIsBad the System]], the [[CorruptPolitician corrupt politicos]] and the [[ApatheticCitizens sheeple]] who never raise a word of protest bad enough that he just wants to watch it all crash and burn.


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* JustTheFirstCitizen: After World War II, the Nazi underground forces generally viewed him as Hitler's legitimate successor, and he assumed largely dictatorial authority over them. However, he never claimed any particularly grand or grandiose titles; his followers usually addressed him as "Excellency" (the appropriate style for a high-ranking civil servant in older German), or even just "Herr Skull."


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* MakesUsEven: He has saved Captain America's life a couple of times -- Not for any altruistic reason, of course, but out of necessity. Cap has also saved his. ''Neither'' of them likes being beholden to the other the littlest bit, so this usually follows in short order.


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* MegaCorp: The Kronas Corporation, which got big and powerful enough to buy out [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed Roxxon Oil]] and become a serious power in the American economy.


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* MoralGuardians: Funds the Watchdogs, an American militia of fundamentalists and superpatriots who crusade against "indecency, immorality, and sexual perversion" in all their manifold expressions. Also personally expresses contempt for promiscuous women, homosexuals, miscegenationists and others he considers sexually immoral. Justified, in that he was born early in the 20th century and retains the morality of the [[ValuesDissonance good, old times.]]


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* MotiveDecay: While Nazism is the Skull's main defining character trait, just as devotion to liberalism and democracy is Captain America's, sometimes he's written simply as a generic EvilOverlord without ideology or beliefs. Notably, in the late 80s he was usually portrayed as a textbook StrawNihilist, supposedly because he'd suddenly come to think that ''fascism was old-fashioned''. In this particular case, though, there were [[NoSwastikas external factors]] involved, and the Skull in question was actually [[ActuallyADoombot a clone]] on PsychoSerum, so at least there's some excuse.


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* MurderInc: The 1950s (i.e., [[CommieNazis Commie-Nazi]]) Red Skull formed a crime syndicate which was explicitly intended to be a bigger and better version of Murder, Inc., running murder, terror, sabotage and subversion in America [[DirtyCommies "for the Reds."]]


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* NebulousCriminalConspiracy: HYDRA is one by itself, but comprises only one of several similar organizations (and countless smaller crime syndicates, terrorist groups, rogue states, militias, etc) which together constitute Red Skull's underground network. How much of it he actively runs varies over time (and with the writing), but he's certainly well-connected in these circles.


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* NeverBeHurtAgain: Part of the reason he joined the Nazis. When at his nicest, he doesn't ''just'' want revenge on the corrupt institutions -- though he wants that, too -- but seriously believes that Nazism will make life better for everyone, so others won't have to suffer like he did [[DeliberateValuesDissomance under the oppression of capitalism and democracy.]] At other times, he's written as a power-hungry ControlFreak who was so deeply scarred by his experiences of helplessness, chaos and poverty that he just wants order, safety and control at any price.


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* NoGuyWantsAnAmazon: Subverted; he sometimes rails at [[ValuesDissonance the unfeminine women of today]] and lectures on how they ought to [[StayInTheKitchen know their place]], but the women he's shown to admire and be attracted to frequently tend to be [[ActionGirl Action Girls]] like Sharon Carter.
* NoNonsenseNemesis: Sometimes, depending on the writing.


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* NotLikeOtherGirls: Sharon Carter, as he sees it. He has interacted with her enough, in various settings, to recognize that she's intelligent, capable and brave, [[MenAreBetterThanWomen which most women aren't]], and appears honestly impressed, even admiring her in some stories.


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* OrderReborn: A villainous example. The Exiles were essentially the reconstituted Waffen-SS.


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* OurFounder: In an AlternateUniverse where he ruled America, he replaced the Statue of Liberty with an even larger statue of Hitler.


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*PragmaticHero: The way he views himself, when not written as a CardCarryingVillain.


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* PrivateMilitaryContractors: Kane-Meyer Security, which tangentially becomes a GovernmentConspiracy when Senator Wright, the would-be PresidentEvil, persuades the administration to hire them for maintaining order in the wake of a Depression-related nationwide squall of riots and disorders. They're actually a neo-fascist legion trained and bankrolled by the Skull.


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* ShowBusiness: Ran a Hollywood studio in one story. Though [[FridgeLogic you'd expect a Nazi to feel kind of weird in Hollywood ...]]


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* SocietyIsToBlame: A supervillain who might actually claim this and have a legitimate point, at least in [[DependingOnTheWriter most versions]] of his backstory. Young Johann Schmidt by all appearances wasn't particularly evil, much less psychotic; and as his subsequent career demonstrates, he's actually a highly intelligent, capable and often even ''[[NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist idealistic]]'' man. If he had grown up with caring parents, or even just in a moderately functional society, he might have been a successful ''benevolent'' politician or academic, or, given that he inhabits a comics shared universe, perhaps even some kind of superhero. Unfortunately, he spent his childhood and youth as a persecuted orphan in the [[CrapsackWorld economically and politically dysfunctional]] Weimar Republic. It seemed to him that only the Nazis could bring back any semblance of order and prosperity to society, and they were also the only group who treated him, personally, with any sympathy or respect, so he joined them and, as Hitler's personal friend, became their most devoted follower.
** Though Captain America defies the trope, with relation to the Skull's past, pointing out that while he's maybe had it tough, ''he'' is still responsible for his ''own'' choices.
** Also obviously averted in the DarkerAndEdgier De Matteis rewrite, where the Skull was [[AxeCrazy psychotic and murderous]] even as a ''[[CreepyChild baby]]''.


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* StayInTheKitchen: He was disappointed that his child was a daughter, because he desired a male heir who could carry on his crusade if he should die before he could complete it. But Synthia has proved herself enough by now to earn at least some grudging respect from him.


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* SympathyForTheHero: He can relate to many of Captain America's troubles, since in at least some ways the two of them are NotSoDifferent. Notably, both miss the good old days and [[FishOutOfTemporalWater feel out of place in the modern world.]]


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* VengeanceFeelsEmpty: When he used the Cosmic Cube to crush Captain America and the other superheroes.


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*WhatDoTheyFearEpisode: In one story, the Skull is in worse straits than usual; it appears that all his efforts to bring about the rebirth of Nazism have finally failed, and now he's DyingAlone. As he suffers, he has vivid and exaggerated nightmares of various real and imagined traumas, but the major one is a stern ghost of Hitler expressing his disappointment in the Skull, who has betrayed his trust and failed him and the Nazi dream.


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* WhosLaughingNow: The much-abused street urchin became a legendary Nazi supervillain, and helped crush the corrupt capitalism and democracy that (he thinks) made things so horrible for his country in general and himself in particular after World War I. Especially true in the Nazi era, when both he and the movement he joined were powerful and respected.
17th Jun '16 11:07:38 PM Mabus101
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**Perhaps most notably tragic in EarthX, where Captain America essentially eulogizes him to his mind-controlling successor. But then, all Earth X villains but the Celestials are tragic.
12th Jun '16 4:33:21 PM nombretomado
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* MookHorrorShow: After inhabiting the Captain America clone, he liked to indulge in "training sessions" that were basically this. He would hire five mooks from {{Taskmaster}}, have them dress like Captain America, and fight them. They thought it was just a sparring match. He was out to kill them. When they started to realize this, you really felt sorry for them.

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* MookHorrorShow: After inhabiting the Captain America clone, he liked to indulge in "training sessions" that were basically this. He would hire five mooks from {{Taskmaster}}, ComicBook/{{Taskmaster}}, have them dress like Captain America, and fight them. They thought it was just a sparring match. He was out to kill them. When they started to realize this, you really felt sorry for them.
11th Jun '16 10:11:10 AM IdumeanPatriot
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* HarmonyVersusDiscipline: Some of both. Human society requires order and control to function; at the same time, Man is not and can never be above Nature. The best solution is to attempt to alleviate nature's [[NatureIsNotNice cruelty]] through the power of the State, but without ever forgetting the fundamental rules of existence.


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* HeroKiller: The man who killed Captain America. Enough said.


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* TheHorseshoeEffect: Though not all the way. He ''hates'' the DirtyCommies, naturally enough, but has more respect for them than for the [[StrawmanPolitical sanctimonious, hypocritical, totally dysfunctional and reality-denying liberals]] who run the irredeemably corrupt Western [[CapitalismIsBad usurocratic]] and [[DemocracyIsBad pluto-democratic]] system.


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* HumanoidAbomination: Briefly became either this or a PhysicalGod when he internalized the god-like powers of the Cosmic Cube.


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* HyperAwareness: In varying degrees, at least in some stories. In one, he demonstrates superior battlefield awareness to Captain America. Generally speaking, it's difficult to catch him off guard.
* HypnotizeThePrincess: Hires [[PsychoPsychologist Dr. Faustus]] to do it to Sharon Carter, so she'll [[spoiler: kill Captain America]] for him.


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* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Emphatically ''not'' in the conventional sense. But in a much more disturbing sense, true. Like Heinrich Himmler's ideal Waffen-SS soldiers, Red Skull is ''personally'' incorruptible: he leads a Spartan life, spends his spare time in training and study to become an even better Nazi, is NotDistractedByTheSexy and doesn't care about money, fame or the fact that most of the world hates him. His one desire and purpose in life is to serve the Nazi ideal and bring about the [[FalseUtopia perfect world]] Hitler dreamed of, and in his own way he's ''totally unselfish'' about it.
** Though as with much else, this [[DependingOnTheWriter varies with the writing]]. Notably, in the [[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks '90s Dark Age]] his [[CloningBlues insane clone]] was just a cackling villain with no ideals whatever who spent much of his time [[EvilIsPetty selling drugs and beating up random people]].
* InnocenceLost: In his backstory. Thanks to [[DarkAndTroubledPast his background]], he was convinced from a ''very'' early age that the world isn't a nice place. However, in most versions he wasn't ''himself'' prepared to kill or hurt people; in at least one he was initially unwilling to kill even ''after'' he became the Red Skull. His descent into overt villainy was gradual, going from propery crimes in his youth (when older criminals exploited him as a pickpocket and burglar) to violence for the [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans "greater good"]] in the service of Nazism, and [[ShellShockedVeteran the experience of total war]] shattered most of what few illusions he still had.


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* LightIsNotGood: Averted with the Skull himself, who [[ObviouslyEvil looks properly like a villain]] with his skull mask. But in at least some versions of his backstory, it's played straight to disturbing effect with the Nazis when he joins them. With their smart uniforms, rallies, patriotic songs and general spirit of optimism and hope in a [[TheGreatDepression chaotic and depressing]] Germany, they come across as [[VillainWithGoodPublicity sympathetic and attractive]] -- certainly to young Johann Schmidt, but to some extent to the readers, too. The point is to show some bit of ''why'' real-life Germans voted Nazi, and it works disturbingly well with good writing.


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* MasterRace: Played straight in varying degrees. Like the real Hitler, he believes the white (and especially, the Nordic) race(s) superior, but can also sometimes admire other cultures (usually East Asian ones). He has also been shown many times to work well together with people from diverse backgrounds, including non-whites, so either he isn't totally fanatic about it, or serious PragmaticVillainy is in play.


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* MoleInCharge: In one story, he tried to take over the US by launching a third-party populist candidature for the Presidency. In another, he ''actually became'' the US Secretary of Defense under a false identity.


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* MoralMyopia: Generally he cares very little about people outside his moral in-group, the exact composition of which, however, varies with the writing. In some portrayals he looks down even on East European peoples like Poles, while in others he considers them exemplary Aryans and respects the Chinese and Japanese, too. (The two racial groups he pretty much consistently despises are Jews and black Africans.) His standards aren't purely racial, either; for example, he views even white [[LowerClassLout bums, hooligans and welfare queens]] as distinctly inferior people.


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* NatureIsNotNice: The natural conclusion to be drawn from an [[TheSocialDarwinist evolutionary]] view of the world. All life is struggle, between individuals to some degree, but more importantly between races and species, and [[Literature/TheKillingStar wimps don't become top dogs]]. That's why war between [[FantasticRacism humans and mutants]] is inevitable, for example. Whether he ''likes'' this view of nature varies with the writing; some versions glory in it, some lament it, and some are philosophically Stoic about it.


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* NeverLiveItDown: In one period, roughly coinciding with the[[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks "Dark Age"]] of comics, an insane clone of the Skull renounced Nazism in favor of [[StrawNihilist faux nihilism]] and generic egotistic and sadistic villainy. Out of universe, this was apparently because Marvel's editors felt [[NoSwastikas Nazism was too risqué for comics]] -- Which is sort of ironic given the [[DarkerAndEdgier decidedly family-unfriendly]] plots of this time, and how they compare to the dastardly schemes of the devotedly Nazi but otherwise rather [[PokeThePoodle PG-rated]] Silver Age Red Skull. The Skull has since recovered, and carried on with the fanatical Nazism he has demonstrated over most of his career, but to this day many (both fans and in-universe) still think he's just a narcissistic nihilist because of this.


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* NewTechnologyIsEvil: Played with. For example, he has an immense contempt for television, but not because it's bad as such; in fact, he was amazed with it when it was new. The reason he hates it is his disappointment with the way people are ''using'' this fantastic technology: namely, to broadcast garbage and make the ApatheticCitizens even more apathetic, instead of trying to enlighten the masses.


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* NonActionGuy: As a boy, he was too weak to defend himself from the older, stronger criminals who preyed on him, and instead learned to flee and hide when he could and ''endure'' when he couldn't. After he joined the Nazis, worked ''[[TookALevelInBadass very hard]]'' to avert this so he'd never be weak and vulnerable again, and is now one of Marvel's premier villainous [[BadassNormal Badass Normals]].


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* ProfessionalKiller: The original (i.e., [[TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]]) Red Skull is introduced as one, a German spy and assassin. The more familiar Skull also has shades of it, as a former intelligence operative with experience in wetwork and black operations.


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* PunishedForSympathy: In one story, when he was still a fresh Nazi (long before he became anyone powerful) he felt sorry for a Communist girl who was being harassed by Nazi militiamen. They noticed, and beat him up for it.
** In a more recent story, he tried to help a homeless dog as a child, for which he was punished by the manager of the orphanage he lived at.


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* ScienceIsBad: Generally averted, as the Skull is not a true conservative or reactionary, but a Nazi, with the appropriate enthusiasm for science and technology as a means of improving human life. However, his views are sometimes ambivalent on specific technologies and lines of scientific inquiry.


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* ShroudedInMyth: Between the hagiographic pro-Skull Nazi propaganda and the Allied hate propaganda against him, it's hard for in-story characters to sift out the truth about his career. (Much like with Hitler in real life.) Also applies meta-fictionally, with various writers giving him different backstories, motivations and general characteristics over the decades (and [[ArmedWithCanon retconning each other]]), throwing considerable confusion over many aspects of what he's "really" like and has "really" done.


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* SocialClimber: An interesting case, possibly even a subversion. Essentially, he is the darkest imaginable example of the Idealist type: he wants power in order to promote Hitler's Nazi vision as effectively as possible. To that end, he also engages in a fair amount of politicking and backstabbing, both in the pre-1945 Nazi hierarchy and later in other context, but he doesn't ''like'' it one bit, indeed thinking it sad he should have to resort to this among nominal allies.
** DependingOnTheWriter. In some stories he's just a generic power-hungry villain who plays the trope totally straight.


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* TheSocialExpert: When he wants to be. His characterization would indicate that he doesn't ''like'' social niceties, and doesn't bother with them when there's no need, but he ''can'' be both very perceptive and even charming in social interactions when he makes the effort. Presumably this is something he has learned by painful effort since becoming a Nazi power player, as the young Johann Schmidt had absolutely NoSocialSkills and was portrayed as a borderline autist in some stories.


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* SoldierVsWarrior: Interestingly, Red Skull comes across as more of a soldier to Captain America's warrior, with his military uniforms, regimentation and devotion to the state, as against Cap's colorful costume, individualism and devotion to the abstract ideal of liberty.


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* SpeciesLoyalty: For a Nazi, always.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: The correct spelling of his name is "Johann Schmidt" (two letters ''n'' in the first name, a ''c'' between the ''s'' and ''h'' in the second, ending with a ''d'' followed by a ''t''), both officially and according to all ordinary rules and standards of German orthography. For whatever reason, many people appear to find this extremely difficult to remember, including some official writers and proofreaders. Especially the variant "Johann Shmidt" (which looks quite ridiculous to native German-speakers) is fairly common.


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* SuperiorSuccessor: To Hitler, arguably, certainly a ''worthy'' successor in any case.


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* ThickerThanWater: To an extent. He [[UnderStatement doesn't really]] go very easy on [[DaddysLittleVillain Sin]], but then again, he doesn't on himself, either. He certainly puts up with more from her (both in the way of failure and insolence) than he would from pretty much anyone else.


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* ToughLove: His treatment of Sin; some of it shades over into outright abusive territory. He has a sort of FreudianExcuse for it, since he's always HadToBeSharp himself, and consequently resents "weakness" in all its forms. Also, he knows she'll be a target for everyone who hates ''him'' just by virtue of being his child, so better make sure she can defend herself if (or when) need be.


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* VicariouslyAmbitious: Varies with the writing. The main motivation for his villainy in most stories is honoring Hitler (or after World War II, his memory) and furthering [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans his great design]], for the good of all (or at least [[MoralMyopia the races that matter]]) but also to restore Hitler's good reputation. Whether he's also interested in power for himself for its own sake varies; he often is, as his experience of helplessness and societal chaos as a child has turned him into something of a ControlFreak, but even so it usually appears a distinctly secondary consideration.
* VillainByDefault: Even when written at his "nicest" he's an obvious villain, simply by virtue of being a Nazi patriot and Hitler admirer. Sort of tragic, in the sense that nothing in his background (at least in the original version) ''necessarily'' predisposed him to supervillainy; if it had been some group ''other'' than the Nazis that turned out to care about his life and give him new hope and purpose as a young loner, he might've been a Batman- or Captain America-like figure himself.


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* VillainousValour: It's a major plot point in many stories that the Skull and his minions are a relatively small and hugely outnumbered band of fighters hunted by all the most powerful nations and superheroes of the world. So he needs to pick his fights ''very'' carefully in order to win them, and to be smarter than his enemies because he can't match them in brute strength.
** A specific example is in the 1970s story arc where he was more or less out of funds altogether, and became essentially a lone-wolf terrorist -- approximately something like a (more) villainous version of V in ''VForVendetta''. ''Even then'' he managed to put up a credible fight against Captain America, SHIELD and the US government.


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* WatchingTroyBurn: Berlin in the spring of 1945, besieged by the Soviets and firebombed by the Americans and British.


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** In another story, a [[AGodAmI Cosmic Cube-powered]] Skull tried it with Sharon Carter, implying that he [[VillainousCrush wanted her by his side]] as he assumed the authority of GodEmperor of the local galaxies. Perhaps not wholly unexpectedly, Sharon wasn't all that interested; and to his credit, in this case the Skull accepted that and showed no inclination to [[HypnotizeThePrincess force her compliance]], as he easily could have with the Cube's powers.


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* WorldsBestWarrior: More like AlwaysSecondBest (to Cap, usually), but certainly in the top tier. Of course, this applies to their vaguely human-like weight class only; he doesn't stand much chance against the bigger Marvel powerhouses in a fair fight, unless he has access to special equipment.


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* WouldNotShootACivilian: Once, long ago. Averted by the time of World War II, when all sides indiscriminately bombed and killed civilians. In one really old comic he is explicitly said to have killed "thousands" when he attacked New York with a stolen American superweapon, matching a moderate-sized bombing raid.
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