SDCC footage from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier revealed Zemo wearing a comic-book-accurate mask, and it's strikingly similar to concept art for Captain America: Civil War. Marvel Studios used their Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con to reveal their upcoming Phase 4 slate, as well as details of the Disney+ TV shows that are currently in the works.
The Falcon and Winter Soldier series is due to premiere in fall 2020, starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Marvel confirmed long-standing rumors that the show's villain will be Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo, previously seen in Captain America: Civil War. A brief teaser promised Zemo's return, and ended with his donning a distinctive purple mask.
Zemo's mask in the footage was clearly inspired by concept art produced by Andy Park for Captain America: Civil War. It's similar to the original Baron Zemo look in the comics, albeit with eye-holes rather than comic-scale white panels. There are also none of the gilded adornments that have been seen in recent Zemo redesigns. Check out the original art below.
Captain America: Civil War is generally regarded as one of the strongest movies in the MCU to date and it grossed over $1.1 billion in the global box office. For all that's the case, though, many comic book readers were infuriated by the the fact Zemo never donned his iconic mask. The decision to keep Zemo alive at the end of the film seemed to hint that Marvel wasn't done with the character, though, and Brühl himself believed Zemo could return. He's been proven correct, and now the mask is turning up after all.
It will be interesting to see what justification, if any, the MCU makes for the mask. In the comics, Helmut Zemo was the thirteenth in a line of German barons. Purple had been the favored color of the first Baron Zemo, back in the 1500s, and Baron Heinrich Zemo took it as the color of his mask during the Second World War. A brilliant and sadistic genius, Heinrich specialized at creating toxic chemicals, but unfortunately during a battle with Captain America some of those chemicals were spilled across his face. The mask became bonded to his skin, impossible to be removed, and over the decades it became a symbol of Heinrich Zemo's power and status. His son, Helmut, adopted it in his honor - and, in the end, to conceal disfigurements to his own face as well.
The MCU's Helmut Zemo is very different. He was born in Sokovia, and there's actually no evidence he was ever a baron; he was, however, an accomplished soldier in the Sokovian Intelligence services, even running a covert kill squad. Where the comic book version of Zemo is driven by a need to prove his own supremacy, in the MCU Zemo is motivated purely by vengeance on the Avengers, who he blames for the deaths of his family. Given that's the case, it's easy to understand why Marvel dropped the mask; it doesn't really fit with Civil War's grounded interpretation. Will Marvel write it into his history, adding a new layer of complexity to the villain? Or will they instead simply show Zemo wanting to wear a mask for a new reason, and he just happens to chance upon the traditional comic book design? We'll find out when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier releases on Disney+ in Fall 2020.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021