Plenty of villains have been introduced to the MCU over the years, and some are more memorable than others. Red Skull debuted in Captain America: The First Avenger, and his ruthlessness and cold stoicism immediately made him a fan favorite. High Evolutionary only recently debuted in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and due to several reasons, fans are drawing parallels between him and Red Skull. Due to that, we’ve decided to analyze both characters in great detail and give you the answer to the question, is it possible that High Evolutionary was Red Skull all this time?
High Evolutionary is not Red Skull; he has never been a version of Red Skull. They are two characters with different origins and are almost completely unconnected to each other. The confusion stems from High Evolutionary’s unmasked appearance. Without the mask, High Evolutionary’s face is reminiscent of Red Skull’s own appearance. The two are likewise obsessed with eugenics, which motivated fans to think they are the same character or at least connected to some extent.
Now that we’ve covered that High Evolutionary is not Red Skull and vice versa, it’s time to analyze why. If you’re interested in more details, stay with us and keep reading!
High Evolutionary and Red Skull have a similar appearance
Fans were shocked to see High Evolutionary unmasked. They likely didn’t expect to see such an injury close-up. When Gamora unmasked High Evolutionary during their final confrontation, we could see that underneath his ill-fitting mask lies nothing but bones and muscles, giving him a skeletal appearance. Still, it reminded us of another villain that debuted long ago, Red Skull, when the MCU was still in its infancy.
Still, ultimately, they are only similar, and that’s all there is to. Here’s why.
High Evolutionary lost his face in a fight against Rocket Raccoon
Ever since GotG Vol. 3 was first teased, we knew that the final journey would be all about Rocket’s past and his connection to High Evolutionary. Rocket Raccoon was randomly selected from a batch of young raccoons he discovered when he visited North America.
High Evolutionary experimented extensively on Rocket, giving him enhanced intelligence and several implants to make him appear more humanlike in nature. Rocket was part of Batch 89 of Humanimals, along with Teefs, Lylla, and Floor. The experiment was a success, and Rocket turned out to be the most intelligent Humanimal High Evolutionary ever created, capable of critical thought and independent conclusions.
He solved an issue with a rapid evolution machine that was bothering High Evolutionary for quite some time. But instead of being grateful, Evolutionary got mad.
Considering that Evolutionary no longer needed Rocket to represent all his creations, he euthanized him and the rest of Batch 89 and took his brain. He wanted to extract everything that made Rocket intelligent and replicate it on his new batch of Humanimals, which would soon be making its way to Counter-Earth.
Finding that Evolutionary plans to kill him, Rocket attempts to escape along with the rest of Batch 89. High Evolutionary, however, predicted that something like that might happen; he shot Lylla, Rocket’s best friend, dead, and his security guards dealing with other animals in the cages.
This enraged Rocket Raccoon so much that he jumped on High Evolutionary and scratched his face to shreds, leaving nothing but exposed muscles and bones. Such extensive damage couldn’t be healed through normal means, and High Evolutionary was forced to wear a mask made out of synthetic skin for the rest of his life. The mask was ill-fitting and gave him a ghoulish appearance, however.
This was uncovered during the final fight when High Evolutionary was defeated and lying on the ground.
Red Skull traded his face for superpowers
During World War II, Dr. Erskine developed the first unstable version of the Super-Soldier Serum that induced superpowers in people who consumed it, effectively enhancing their strength, speed, and durability.
Even though Erskine refused to hand Red Skull the serum, Red Skull, then known under the name Johann Schmidt, threatened Schmidt until he complied. Schmidt took the serum and gained some modicum of superpowers but was left disfigured by the side effects of the unstable serum. His face was deformed, becoming red in color with severely pronounced features.
Schmidt was forced to wear a synthetic mask that matched his previous appearance for the rest of his life. This is how he also gained the alias “Red Skull.”
As you can see, even though they look kind of similar and both wear masks, the means through which High Evolutionary and Red Skull got their scarred faces are completely different. Evolutionary is forced to wear a mask due to his injury, while Red Skull is forced to wear a mask to hide the side effects of the Super-Soldier Serum.
Both Red Skull and High Evolutionary are obsessed with racial superiority
I mean, there’s little to explain here regarding Red Skull, as it is pretty common knowledge that he was a Nazi, and Nazi philosophies, in part, revolve around racial superiority.
While High Evolutionary wasn’t a Nazi, he was always looking for ways to improve upon the species that already existed in the Universe or create new ones that often ended up severely flawed with a multitude of trauma. As Rocket said it best, High Evolutionary didn’t want to make anything perfect; he just hated how things were in the first place, always finding flaws in nature’s design.
And even though both believed that some creations were superior to others, their philosophies and goals differed vastly. High Evolutionary wanted to create a perfect, violence-free society but eventually got insane along the way and created monstrosities.
Adam Warlock’s forehead stone seems to be a clue
We know that Adam Warlock has a stone embedded in his forehead, and in the comics, that stone is the Soul Gem, aka Soul Stone. While we don’t know the gem’s nature in the MCU, many fans assumed it was also the Soul Stone.
And who was the last person seen guarding the Soul Stone? Red Skull, back at Vormir. If High Evolutionary was Red Skull, he could have easily gifted it to Adam Warlock, just like he did in the comics, since Red Skull was the person objectively closest to it.
But, there is one major flaw in this theory. The stone that Adam Warlock has in the MCU cannot be Soul Stone because Thanos destroyed the Infinity Stones of the prime Universe, and the only way that the Avengers managed to collect them was because they went on a Time Heist to collect them from different points in the past and bring them to the current timeline.
After the snap was reversed and Thanos dealt with, the Infinity Stones were returned to their proper place in time. So no, Red Skull disguised as High Evolutionary didn’t give Adam Warlock the Soul Stone.
So, are High Evolutionary and Red Skull the same character?
High Evolutionary and Red Skull are definitely not the same characters. They just look similar when they take off their masks due to facial deformities, and that’s pretty much it. They are two distinctive villains in the MCU (and the comics) with separate origins, motivations, and philosophies.