7th April 2021
By Laird Gavriel
Baron Helmut Zemo, the new “Jimmy Woo” of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, is a character which for some reason not many know much about. Perhaps it was the distraction of Tom Holland and RDJ (there are others too) squaring off with Team Cap during Captain America: Civil War, but now the character is getting the recognition he deserves. Having masterminded the collapse of the Avengers, Zemo was held up in jail until Bucky orchestrated his escape pulling Zemo to the centre of our screens.
Zemo and I share one thing in common – two if you include the massive fanbase – and that is our aristocratic titles. Yes, I am a Laird. No, I am not Scottish. I also decline to admit that I spent £50 buying my title off of the internet. Zemo was born into an aristocratic family in Sokovia from which he inherited his title. Their death following the events of Age of Ultron – another Marvel movie people seem to forget – motivated his vengeance against the Avengers. His private jet and glorious collection of cars echoes his undeniable affluence though it is a shame that the Red Skull Car did not make an appearance.
At the start of the episode, Bucky asks Zemo what book he is reading. The answer? Machiavelli: author of The Prince and the father of manipulative and deceptive political ideology who popularised the idea of “the ends justify the means”. Zemo uses this to justify framing Bucky for the murder of King T’Chaka and the ensuing events of Civil War. Zemo is an expert on Hydra and the Super Soldier Programme, having destroyed the latter during Civil War, so his importance is recognised by Bucky. Who better to help fight Freedom Fighter Super Soldiers than a manipulative villain with a hatred for all things Avengers?
Zemo is the former leader of Sokovian secret military elite unit EKO Scorpion. This military background is the source of his expert conniving and fighting skills. He acquired knowledge about Hydra from Vasily Karpov at the beginning of Civil War. Want anything done? Try robbery and torture. The acquisition of the Winter Soldier Book gave him control over Bucky, and after framing him for murder, Zemo gained access to the Winter Soldier by posing as psychiatrist Theo Broussard. After Zemo spoke the command words, Barnes broke out and gave Zemo information about the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark.
During the ensuing conflict over Bucky and the Sokovia Accords between the Avengers, Zemo travelled to Siberia to the base of the Winter Soldier Programme. He allowed a maid in Berlin to find the real Broussard’s corpse, allowing the Avengers to learn his identity and follow him to Siberia. Zemo killed the Super Soldiers in Siberia whilst waiting in a bunker for Iron Man, Cap and Bucky. Upon their arrival, protected by his bunker, Zemo revealed the dead soldiers and the video of Bucky killing Tony’s parents.
Zemo was then arrested by T’Challa before he could commit suicide and incarcerated. Everett Ross asked: “so, how does it feel? To spend all that time, all that effort and to see it fail so spectacularly?”. Zemo’s response: “Did it?”
This leaves us with a Zemo motivated by the destruction of the Super Solider and (maybe) willing to help Sam and Bucky. His dance moves bedazzled us all but are those enough? What is his new “ends” and how will he change the MCU? The book he reads is actually about the friendship between Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci – is there a chance that Zemo has a hidden Da Vinci? Arnim Zola is a definite possibility given the insofar digital nature of The Powerbroker. Perhaps Zemo could orchestrate a Zola cameo. Zola’s obsession with the Super Soldier Serum and the perfect human form echoes Da Vinci definitely sets him up for an appearance in the series.
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