The problem with the Red Skull scene isn't actually the new performer. Recasting is hardly a new tactic for the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- no one is begging for Edward Norton to return to his role as the Hulk after Mark Ruffalo put his stamp on it -- but the way the scene plays out is indicative of a larger storytelling flaw in these long-running, multi-movie franchises. When a character you thought was dead returns in a later season of a television series or in the final chapter of an epic novel, the moment is typically given room to breathe. It's more than just a cameo or an Easter Egg. It's a melancholy reminder that time has passed, friends have been lost, and our heroes have changed. Nothing will ever be the same.
There are stray lines of dialogue, small interactions, and meaningful glances in Avengers: Infinity War that achieve that rich, layered quality. (Many of them involve Chris Hemsworth, who continues to find new wrinkles in his portrayal of Thor.) But the repetitive series of events that transpire in the middle stretch of Infinity War, whether it's the material with Josh Brolin's Thanos, Peter Dinklage's Eitri, or Marquand's Red Skull, carry little weight -- and that's not just because the characters are mostly floating in space. It's that we know "nothing will ever be the same" is not a phrase that feels true when applied to these movies. The sameness is infinite.