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Who Is Zemo? The Falcon & The Winter Soldier Villain Explained

Helmut Zemo will appear in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, the new Disney+ series which follows the two heroes in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 marks a departure for the long-running franchise, with five movies bolstered by five serialized TV series on the Disney streaming service that directly impact the films, including WandaVisionHawkeye, and Loki.

The first of the Disney+ MCU projects is The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, which features the new Captain America and the old Cap's most trusted lieutenant taking the shield on new adventures. The series is expected to premiere in Fall 2020 and will bring Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes back up against a former enemy, Helmut Zemo.

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Related: MCU Phase 4 Is As Big As Phase 3 (But Releasing Twice As Fast)

Zemo first appeared in Captain America: Civil War where he orchestrated the breakdown of the Avengers, and was last seen in captivity. Now he's back with a scheme that will require some knowledge of his Marvel Comics backstory. Here's everything you need to know about The Falcon & The Winter Soldier villain.

Baron Zemo's Origin In Marvel Comics

Baron Zemo Marvel Comics

Baron Heinrich Zemo was first introduced in 1964 as a World War II enemy of Captain America. A Nazi scientist, Zemo developed high-tech weapons for the German war machine while wearing a peculiar purple hood to conceal his identity. After World War II, Heinrich fled from his crimes to South America, where he enslaved a local village and became their king. Eventually, though, his past caught up to him in the form of Captain America. Rescued from his time frozen in ice, Cap returned to active duty as a superhero, and found Heinrich. In their final battle, the Nazi scientist was killed by a rockslide, but he was not the final Zemo who would fight against Captain America.

The most well-known version of Baron Zemo - and the one adapted for the MCU - is Heinrich's son, Helmut. Though he was physically and emotionally abused by his father, Helmut felt a need to avenge his father's death, and sought out to take down Captain America and, by association, The Avengers. Helmut had been indoctrinated by his father's Nazi ideals, and was essentially a Neo-Nazi supervillain. Also like his father, he wore a purple mask to cover up the scars from when he fell into a pit of Adhesive-X, an invention of his father's making.

Baron Zemo hasn't just been a foe of Captain America. In the comics, he's well-known for going up against Marvel's best, and in some stories, he's even succeeded in essentially ending the world. In the Old Man Logan universe, Zemo was responsible for wiping out the Avengers with the Thunderbolts, his own team of super "heroes" who ultimately betrayed The Avengers and killed nearly every hero in the Marvel universe.

Related: Falcon & The Winter Soldier's Title Is A Lie

The MCU's Zemo In Captain America: Civil War

Daniel Bruhl as Zemo in Captain America Civil War

The MCU version of Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is decidedly different from his comic book progenitor. Helmut Zemo is not German, but Sokovian, and was a colonel in his country's special forces. During the Battle of Sokovia, as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Zemo's entire family were killed in the crossfire between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Ultron. Driven by revenge, Zemo spent a year planning out an elaborate scheme with the goal of destroying the Avengers forever.

In an effort to pit the Avengers against each other, Helmut Zemo bombed a UN conference in Vienna discussing a superhero registration act, framing Bucky Barnes for the crime. Meanwhile, he manipulated events from behind the scenes, ultimately culminating in Cap, Bucky, and Iron Man meeting for one final showdown in coldest Russia. Zemo showed them footage of Bucky murdering Tony Stark's parents in 1991, which enraged Tony and triggered a brutal brawl. Captain America was forced to fight Iron Man to protect his friend, damaging their friendship forever.

Zemo, proud of the work he has accomplished and satisfied that he has avenged his family, prepared to take his own life, but Black Panther intervened and captures the Sokovian troublemaker, turning him over to the CIA. As the MCU currently stands, Zemo is imprisoned indefinitely for his crimes.

Zemo In The Falcon & The Winter Soldier

Daniel Brühl's Zemo returns for The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. While he succeeded in his immediate plan to dissolve the Avengers, they were reunited in a bid to defeat Thanos and there's a proper Captain America once again. His plan is likely to involve enacting further revenge - after escaping from prison.

Related: How Avengers: Endgame Sets Up ALL Confirmed Disney+ Shows

One provocative change for the series is the addition of a comics-accurate costume for the character, with Zemo sporting his purple hood. This promises a more faithful take on the character this time around.

Next: Every Marvel Phase 5 Movie Confirmed To Be In Development

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