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It appears that when the third solo film for Marvel’s juiced, justice-seeking, integrity-oozing Avenger, Captain America: Civil War hits next year, our hero can cross another one of his signature comic book nemeses off the list. With the addition of actor Daniel Bruhl to the cast, speculation began running rampant as to the identity of his character. Well, if there’s any truth to the latest report, then it looks like Bruhl will be donning the purple mantle of none other than Baron Zemo!
According to a recent Walt Disney/Marvel Studio casting report, it looks like Daniel Bruhl has been listed as being "cast as Baron Zemo." The move certainly would not come from out of left field, as fans have been eagerly anticipating the big screen debut of Zemo since the Captain America film series began. In terms of A-list villains in the Cap comic book title, Baron Zemo most definitely ranks among the top. However, when it comes to the annals of comic book history, there have been two Baron Zemos. Which one will we get from Bruhl, the actor who starred in Inglourious Basterds and has already shared the screen with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor in Rush? Well, perhaps that can be safely speculated by the context of the film.
The title of Baron Zemo is more of a legacy than anything, representing a long and storied history of virulent villainy that stretches back to several generations. Heinrich Zemo was introduced early in Cap’s Silver Age revival by way of retcon as a mad scientist villain who tangled often with Cap during the World War II era (while sporting what almost appears to be a Crown Royal bag over his head) and was even responsible for the "death" of Bucky, before getting himself killed battling Cap. The current Zemo, introduced later in the Silver Age era of the Captain America comics, is Helmut Zemo, his son. Like his father, Helmut, the 13th Baron Zemo, is a scientific genius, though his path has been far longer and vastly more nuanced over the years.
Helmut, whose face was horribly scarred in battle (another legacy shared with his dad), has tangled with Cap and his friends in various revenge plots over the legacy of his family. However, it has been his more recent exploits in the last few decades that have defined the more significant and nuanced aspects of his character. Besides countless evil plots over the years, Zemo led the villainous Masters of Evil. However, he was also responsible for founding the original lineup of Thunderbolts, a team of supervillains that attempted to sell themselves to the public as heroes. The pathological megalomaniacal proclivities of Zemo even led to himself believing his own bogus beneficence, leading to a stint as a quasi-hero. This plays perfectly into an aspect of the Civil War storyline that the film adapts, in which Tony Stark, a proponent of the Superhero Registration Act, begins, problematically, to recruit villains he believes to be reformed to his cause of transparency and official codification to the profession of superherodom. However, look for Bruhl's Baron Zemo to be motivated by a secret agenda of revenge.
Captain America: Civil War blurs the lines way better than Robin Thicke ever will when it hits theaters on May 6, 2016.