Tadzio de Santis
Alias(es) Red Skull
Appeared in Captain America
Status Deceased
Actor Scott Paulin
Massimilio Massimi
"Let's see if your kind heart is stronger than my deep hatred!"
―Red Skull[src]

Tadzio de Santis was the name of the Italian boy who became the Red Skull.


Captain America

Tadzio de Santis was an Italian boy genius, born in the town of Porto Venere. Because of his intellect, he was kidnapped from his family by the Italian army stormtroopers in 1936, in a raid lead by Mussolini in person. The boy was forced to watch as his parents were killed before him, then he was taken in Fortezza Lorenzo (Lawrence's Fortress), a secret base of nazi-fascist experiments. In here, he was used as a Guinea pig for an experiment aimed to create the first and only "übermensch", following the researches of the unwilling scientist Maria Vaselli, who escaped immediately after the beginning of the experiment.

Seven years later, De Santis, brainwashed, with his memory erased, completely loyal to the Axis and with his face disfigured, was put in charge of a plan to destroy the White House with a missile. During his mission, the man now known as the Red Skull faced for the first time Captain America, his American counterpart. During the fight, the Skull utterly overpowered Rogers, and tied him up to the missile. Just a moment before the missile took flight, anyway, Captain America grabbed Red Skull's right hand, trying to bring him to die with him, but the Skull cut his hand off, surviving the encounter.

Thanks to Vaselli's formula, De Santis survived during the decades: he transformed the Fortezza Lorenzo into his own base and went through plastic surgery to reconstruct his ruined face. After building a secret criminal organization, the Skull gained a lot of power, and he was the mastermind behind the deaths of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his brother Robert, and of Martin Luther King. When in 1993 the new American President, Thomas Kimball, began a new policy for global peace and ecology, the Red Skull decided to stop him, but in order to avoid creating another martyr, he resolved to perform a revolutionary brain transplant, in order that he himself may become the new US President.

In the meanwhile, the believed dead Captain America awakens from his ice tomb in Alaska, and De Santis sends his daughter, Valentina, to kill him before he comes looking for him. While Valentina is searching for Rogers, Red Skull manages to kidnap the President when he's in Rome for a world summit, thanks to a general who betrayed US Government and is working for him. Disappointed for his daughter's failure, De Santis prepares to take possess of the Kimball's body, but the process is longer than forseen.

Kimball manages to break free from his prison, but he's immediately recaptured by the Skull. In his effort to ruin De Santis' plans, Kimball tries to jump from the top of the Fortress, only to be rescued by Captain America, arrived on the place. The Red Skull has the possibility to face his nemesis once again, and even this time he seemes to prevail on the American. Thanks to the help of both the President and Sharon Cooperman, anyway, Cap manages to have the Red Skull flee. De Santis has got one last resource, a hidden nuclear bomb powerful enough to destroy the southern part of Europe, and starts a detonator. In a final effort to make him regain his personality, Rogers forces him to listen to the registration of Tadzio's last night with his family, but the only result is to have the Skull become depressed, and more than ready to commit suicide. Taking advantage of a moment of distraction, Captain America throws his shield to the Skull, making him fly over the parapet, meeting his end on the cliff downward.

Character traits

Before going through Mussolini's brainwashing, Tadzio De Santis was a normal boy, more intelligent than the average. With his personality changed, he became a sadistic terrorist, an agent of chaos, seeking for war and absolute domination. The only person he's affectionate toward is his daughter.

Maria Vaselli's formula enhanced De Santis' physical attributes, making him extremely strong, fast and durable, although disfiguring him permanently. In more than one occasion, the Red Skull proved to be more apt to combat than Captain America himself.




  • In the comics, Red Skull is named Johann Schmidt, but he was changed for this on-screen adaptation.
  • Originally, the Red Skull was German, not Italian, and he wasn´t kidnapped in his childhood, he joined the Axis by his own decision.
  • Red Skull's daughter was Sinthea Schmidt in the comics and went by the villain name Sin.
  • The makeup for Red Skull was rather poorly done and didn't resemble much of a "red skull". It looked "decomposed" and closer to the head of a corpse.
  • In the movie, he was only called de Santis, but was credited as Tadzio de Santis.


See Also

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