The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has a great villain in Baron Zemo but is he the best choice? Here’s what’s perfect and not-so-perfect about them.
In Marvel Comics, there have been two men to carry the moniker of Baron Zemo. The first was Heinrich Zemo, who was a Captain America villain from World War II. After his death, his son Helmut Zemo took over the role and became Cap’s enemy for a new generation. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new slant was taken with the second-generation version of the character.
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Daniel Bruhl played Baron Zemo in Captain America: Civil War, and he was responsible for the programming of Bucky Barnes into the assassin The Winter Soldier. This is a change from the comics, where a Russian named Aleksander Lukin was responsible, but it allowed Zemo to play a big role, and he is coming back for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
10 Perfect – Responsible For The Winter Soldier’s Newest Conflicts
In the MCU, it was Baron Zemo who turned Bucky Barnes into an emotionless assassin in the eyes of the public. Bucky was framed for the assassination of Black Panther’s father by Helmut Zemo. Zemo was arrested after this and held prisoner by the United States government. He did so many bad things to Bucky, and the Winter Soldier never got his own personal revenge, making it a perfect opportunity for that to happen.
9 Not – Not Impressive In Civil War
Baron Zemo was the man who caused all the problems in Captain America: Civil War. He devastated Wakanda by causing the death of its king. He was who pulled Winter Soldier’s strings for so long and almost drove Iron Man to commit murder. He destroyed the Avengers. Yet, at the end of the day, he was the least memorable person in the entire Civil War movie. For a villain as iconic as Baron Zemo in the comics, the MCU really sold him short in his movie appearance, and, in the end, it will be shocking if many people remember him at all.
8 Perfect – Classic Captain America Bad Guy
Baron Zemo has been around for a long time in Marvel Comics, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be the first time that fans get to see him in his actual costume — or at least the mask based on the trailers. The original Heinrich Zemo first appeared in 1964 in Avengers #4 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. That was also the same issue where Captain America made his first Marvel appearance. Helmet Zemo made his first appearance in 1973’s Captain America #168 by Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella & Sal Buscema. With such a history, he deserves to get his big moment in the MCU.
7 Not – Government More Dangerous
There seems to be more than one storyline playing out in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. One seems to involve Baron Zemo and other criminals and possibly the introduction of Madripoor. This is the least interesting part of what the trailers have shown. More interesting is Falcon’s battle for the shield.
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The early rumors indicate that the Sokovia Accords are still in place. This means that, despite saving the entire planet from Thanos, the government wants control of their heroes. With Thaddeus Ross reportedly still in charge, this is not a government people can trust, and it is more interesting than the costumed villains.
6 Perfect – Reminder Of Hydra Infiltration
While the U.S. Government appears to plan to make things troublesome for Falcon and Winter Soldier, the truth is that the MCU has proven that it can’t be trusted. Hydra infiltrated the organization of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it is clear from WandaVision that S.W.O.R.D. is no better. There were even Hydra agents in the White House. Baron Zemo is the clear face of Hydra in Marvel Comics, and bringing him in will remind everyone that Hydra was in charge once and could still have men on the inside.
5 Not – Should Be More About Fight For The Shield
The battle for the shield is clearly the most important part of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There are only six episodes of this MCU series, and there is a danger of weighing it down with too much going on. With Baron Zemo, Baltroc the Leaper, and several goons in the trailers, there was almost no mention of U.S. Agent. The true battle here is between John Walker and Sam Wilson and who deserves to carry the role of Captain America. Baron Zemo is a big name in comics and shouldn’t be a thrown-in villain in support of the real story.
4 Perfect – Nice Mid-Level Boss
While Baron Zemo was a big deal in the comics and has been around for closing in on 50 years in Marvel, his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War did little to make him feel important. Putting on his mask will be a big moment for fans of the comics, but everyone else might not care about the threat he brings.
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If the MCU has no care about making him worthy of his title in the TV and movie world, he might as well get that one moment here as a mid-level boss that leads to the John Walker and Sam Wilson scenes. It is disappointing for comic book fans but makes sense for those who only watched the movies.
3 Not – The Flag Smashers Are Here
The Flag Smashers are coming to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and this is likely who the two heroes will battle in Madripoor. They are perfect additions to Baron Zemo’s story, but are they something that Marvel needs to be pulling out in 2021? The country is in a constant state of turmoil, and the political arguments have ruined friendships and families. Does the Disney+ Marvel series want to polarize half their audience with something this political? It might not be the best time.
2 Perfect – The Thunderbolts Rise
There is a chance the reemergence of Baron Zemo could lead to something great. The Thunderbolts is a Marvel series that took a group of former villains and had them act as a new superhero team. This wasn’t like the Suicide Squad because the team tried to become heroes. However, the original team was pretending to be heroes and was working for Baron Zemo all along. If the return of Zemo in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brings the Thunderbolts to the MCU, it is all worth it.
1 Not – It’s Been Too Long Of A Wait
Daniel Bruhl is a great actor and has several awards under his belt for movies like Good Bye, Lenin! to Inglorious Basterds. He deserves a chance to shine. The problem is that he was in Captain America: Civil War, which was released five years ago. While that isn’t that long, there have been 10 MCU movies released since then, including the massive war with Thanos. Does anyone even care about Baron Zemo anymore after all that time, and will anyone care when he shows up in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? It might have been too long of a wait for him to matter anymore.
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About The Author
Shawn S. Lealos (353 Articles Published)
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma with a minor in Film Studies. He has worked as a journalist for over 20 years, first in the world of print journalism before moving to online media as the world changed. Shawn is a former member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle before relocating to Texas and has work published in the Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma Gazette, Vox Magazine and Loud Magazine and on websites like The Huffington Post, CBS, Time Warner Cable, Yahoo, The Movie Network, Chud, Renegade Cinema, 411mania and Sporting News. Shawn is also a published author, with a non-fiction book about the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers and has begun work on a new fiction series as well. Visit Shawn Lealos’ website to learn more about his novel writing and follow him on Twitter @sslealos.