How did the Tesseract end up on Earth anyway? In CA Red Skull says something like it was the "crown jewel of Odin's treasure room" and at the end of The Avengers it seems heavily implied its power is beyond what Humans should have access too and Thor takes it back to Asgard.
What? Did Odin get word of the trouble Loki was going to cause with it, snap his fingers, and say "Oh, damn! The Tesseract! I remember now I left it on Earth a few millennia ago." then he does a dunce-slap to his own head and says, "Man, if my head wasn't screwed on right... Well, it's a good thing it doesn't harness the power to destroy an entire planet or a good chunk of the universe or anything like that."
in 70 years, learning it is alive and how to leach energy from it without blowing a building up, i'd call that respectful progress given how advanced the Tesseract actually is...
Put, again, Red Skull and his little buddy are able to harness some of its power and make remarkable weaponry out of it using limited 1940s technology during a time of war when rare and valuable materials were hard to come by for the Axis (and by extension I'd assume Hydra.)