Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler is watching a play at an Opera House in Berlin. Johann Schmidt, an officer working at the SA Weapons Division is presented to Hitler, who commends Schmidt of his work. Schmidt took the chance to tell Hitler the tale of an ancient artifact left by the Norse Gods on Earth. With this artifact, Schmidt tells Hitler that they would easily win the war. Intrigued, Hitler promotes Schmidt to the Inner Circle and provided further funding for his research. Ernst Kauffman, an SA officer is irked by Schmidt’s tales and tells him that he will fail and disappoint the Fuhrer.
Three months later, Schmidt is enjoying his further funding with Dr. Arnim Zola. They are overseeing the making of prototype weapons and tanks for Hitler’s army. A soldier enters and delivers a message for Schmidt to meet Heinrich Himmler at Bavaria.
In Bavaria, Schmidt is escorted to Hotel Hanselbauer where he sees it being raided by German soldiers. He enters the hotel and finds SA officers lying on the floor dead. He also sees a captured Ernst Kauffman. Himmler explains that Kauffman and high-ranking SA officers planned a coup to overthrow Hitler. He then orders Schmidt to shoot Kauffman as his way of showing allegiance to the Third Reich. Without hesitation, Schmidt shoots and kills Kauffman. Elsewhere, SA Chief Ernst Rohm and high-ranking officers are also killed. This act would later on be dubbed as the Night of the Long Knives.
Later, Himmler tells Schmidt that he is now a member of the newly formed Schutzstaffel, replacing Sturmabteilung, and Hitler has given him his first mission. Schmidt is to find and stop German scientist, Dr. Abraham Erskine from leaving Germany and to retrieve the super-soldier serum the doctor had created. He is also rewarded Castle Kauffman as his new base for pledging allegiance.
Schmidt returns to his facility and tells Dr. Arnim Zola to move half of the prototype weapons to Castle Kauffman and the other half to the mountains. He also announced the formation of HYDRA, disbands from the Nazi Party and is now enemies of the world.
In Austria, Dr. Abraham Erskine and his family are waiting to board a train. They are intercepted by Schmidt and his forces. Intrigued by his super-soldier formula, Schmidt neglected to turn Dr. Erskine over to Hitler. Instead provided Erskine with the necessary equipment to finish his work. However, Erskine refused to cooperate. To ensure Erskine’s cooperation, Schmidt sent his family to Dachau Concentration Camp and will only be freed at the time he finishes the formula.
Erskine was taken to Castle Kauffman and took months working on the formula. Greedy for power, Schmidt ordered Erskine to test the formula on him. However, Erskine warned Schmidt of its side effects. Ignoring Erskine’s warnings, Schmidt had him inject the super-soldier formula. Schmidt felt stronger and powerful but felt ill. He would spend the following days in a secluded room suffering the side effects according to Erskine. A maiden tried to bring food to Schmidt, who angrily throws a chair against the door in a feat of strength granted by the serum, demanding to be alone.
In the dungeons, Dr. Zola visited Erskine to announce his failure and mocked that the disfigurement inflicted upon Schmidt would result to his death and his family.
The maiden came looking for Zola, who pointed a gun at him. The maiden seized the opportunity to free Erskine, revealing herself to be agent Peggy Carter of the SSR. Carter locked Zola in Erskine’s cell and cleared the path, killing some of the men before an army of the Alliance stormed the base.
As Zola calls for the guards, Schmidt breaks the cell doors and frees him. Zola sees Schmidt’s face, who tells him that from now on, he is to be known as the Red Skull, before escaping to the Alps.
As they make their escape, Erskine asks Carter to free his family but Cater informs him that Dachau Concentration Camp was slaughtered by the Nazi’s. Saddened, Erskine breaks but Carter tells him to exact revenge by taking his serum to help the Allies. They are then extracted by General Chester Phillips; who welcomes Erskine to the Strategic Scientific Reserve.
In a post-credits scene, Months later, as the Red Skull oversees his newly formed HYDRA organization; a soldier approaches and tells him that their spies have found Dr. Erskine’s location. The Red Skull then has Heinz Kruger dispatched to assassinate Erskine and destroy all evidence of his research.
- Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull
- Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola
- Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine
- Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter
- Tommy Lee Jones as General Chester Phillips
- Martin Wuttke as Adolf Hitler
- Ulrich Noethen as Heinrich Himmler
- Kenneth Branagh as Ernst Kauffman
- The Night of the Long Knives
- Third Reich
- Nazi Germany
- United States Army
- Strategic Scientific Reserve
- Berlin, Germany
- Bavaria, Germany
- Hotel Hanselbauer
- Castle Kauffman