Disney’s upcoming streaming service Disney+ will roll out a bunch of different TV series that will tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first will arrive in late 2020 and it’ll be called The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, despite revolving around characters who now go by the names Captain America and the White Wolf. It will star Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in a buddy cop-type story that will bring several characters from Captain America: Civil War back into the fold, including Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo, this time with his classic purple mask.
10 He’s been working with Thaddeus Ross and the Thunderbolts
With the Avengers disbanded following the events of Endgame, many Marvel fans are expecting the Thunderbolts to show up in the MCU before too long. In the comics, this is a superhero team spearheaded by Thaddeus Ross (who happens to have returned to the MCU recently in none other than Captain America: Civil War) that arises in the Avengers’ absence. They turn out to be villainous, but the later version of the team is made up of reformed supervillains, so moviegoers are expecting the MCU’s version to include all the villains who have been left alive: Ghost, the Vulture, the Abomination, and of course, Baron Zemo. Imagine if Zemo was working for Ross the entire time!
9 He’ll assist the heroes from prison, Hannibal Lecter-style
The last time we saw Baron Zemo, he was being locked up by Everett Ross, who implored him to step out of line to give him a chance to exercise some bureaucratic brutality. Perhaps The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will pick up with Zemo still behind bars, helping out the heroes. In The Silence of the Lambs, an imprisoned Hannibal Lecter helps Clarice Starling to profile Buffalo Bill when her investigation turns up dead ends in exchange for various luxuries the terms of his imprisonment don’t allow. Maybe the same could happen with Zemo in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
8 He breaks out of prison and the titular heroes have to track him down
When we last saw Helmut Zemo, he was in a maximum-security prison, being watched over by Everett Ross. However, in all the promotional materials for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Zemo is out and about, wearing his iconic purple mask. So, how does he get from point A to point B? Perhaps he’ll escape from prison and the titular duo will be tasked with tracking him down. The show has been compared to Midnight Run, which is about a bounty hunter’s search for a fugitive, so there’s a good chance that this is the plot of the upcoming series.
7 He objects to there being a new Captain America
In Captain America: Civil War, we met a Helmut Zemo who wanted to tear the Avengers apart – specifically Iron Man and Captain America – as vengeance for the loss of his family in the Battle of Sokovia. At the end, after he succeeded, he tried to kill himself, but T’Challa stopped him. Some fans have wondered, if his plan already worked out and he wants to die, why he’s coming back at all.
Maybe he disagrees with the idea of there being a “Captain America” at all – an American super soldier who travels the world, imposing order with force – and not just Steve Rogers. If this is the case, then he has a reason to go up against Sam Wilson now.
6 He teamed up with the Red Skull
After Avengers: Infinity War brought the surprise return of the Red Skull, the Russo brothers teased that with the Soul Stone gone, he was free to leave Vormir. In the main MCU timeline, Thanos has taken the Soul Stone and the Red Skull can leave. So, maybe he secretly did return to Earth and he’s been quietly manipulating events, like building a team of supervillains or breaking Zemo out of prison. It would be awesome to see Baron Zemo in his iconic purple costume paired up with a grizzled, old Red Skull, played by a returning Ross Marquand (not killjoy Hugo Weaving who hates the MCU).
5 Bucky will seek his revenge
Although Shuri managed to clear Bucky’s head of his Hydra brainwashing, he’s still a violent guy with a checkered past. He might still be mad at Zemo for framing him for the United Nations bombing and getting him hunted down by the feds. That was forgotten about, and Black Panther ended up being the one to bring Zemo in. (He had as much a reason to be the one to bring him in, since Zemo killed his father in that bombing.) As long as Zemo is back out in the open, Bucky is free to seek his revenge and get closure for the events of Civil War.
4 The government sends John Walker after him
John Walker has been confirmed to appear in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. In the comics, he takes on the mantle of Captain America, but turns out to be dangerously unstable and, essentially, a villain. Anthony Mackie keeps insisting that he’s still the Falcon, not Captain America. So, maybe the government will make John Walker the new Captain America, disagreeing with Steve Rogers’ decision to give his title to Sam Wilson. They’ll send him after Zemo and slowly realize that he can’t be trusted and is actually evil (maybe he’ll even team up with Zemo) and they’ll accept that Sam was the right choice all along.
3 He’ll give himself superpowers
The Helmut Zemo we met in Captain America: Civil War was just a regular guy. This is part of what made him such a great villain. He wasn’t extraordinary. He was just an intelligent guy fueled by vengeance who tore the Avengers apart with meticulous planning (and a healthy dose of good fortune).
But in the comics, he’s a fighter. In addition to giving him his purple mask, maybe The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be giving him some superpowers, too. He could break into a S.H.I.E.L.D. or Hydra lab and create a serum to give himself faster reflexes or enhanced strength, to turn the meek guy from the movie into the fighter from the comics.
2 Thanos’ finger-snap left his prison cell unguarded
Since Zemo will somehow have to go from being locked up in prison to walking free either within the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier or in the off-screen interim between Civil War and the series, many fan theories about his role revolve around how he’s going to escape. Spider-Man: Far From Home showed us that the aftermath of Thanos’ destructive finger-snap will prove to be a large part of the MCU going forward, just as major events affect the wider world in the comics. Perhaps the random dusting of 50% of the Earth’s population left the Raft unguarded, and allowed Zemo and various fellow inmates to escape.
1 He’ll form the Masters of Evil
A lot of fans have been expecting Hydra to play into the plot of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but we’ve seen enough of Hydra in the MCU. There are plenty of other evil secret societies in the Marvel Comics universe to explore. In the comics, Baron Zemo is the leader of an organization called the Masters of Evil. They’re essentially Marvel’s version of the Legion of Doom or Spectre – a team of evildoers in a world filled with teams of heroes. If the MCU is bringing Zemo back into the mix, one of the best bets as to why has to be that the producers are introducing their own incarnation of the Masters of Evil.