When Daniel Bruhl's Helmut Zemo is introduced in Captain America: Civil War, he doesn't exactly come across as a nice guy. After all, he breaks into an old man's house and then tortures him while trying to extract information. As dark as this is, however, the movie nearly had a much deadlier first scene for the character, involving him killing a whole room full of people.
This interesting bit of "What Could Have Been" is revealed on the new audio commentary attached to the digital release of Captain America: Civil War, featuring directors Joe and Anthony Russo and writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus. When Zemo arrives on screen in the movie, Joe Russo discusses that they initially filmed a completely different introduction, but that it was ultimately replaced because it didn't move the story forward as well as it should. Said the co-director:
We had an original scene where Zemo was at an auction, a black market auction. And that's how he got his hands on the book, was at this auction. He killed everybody in the auction by gassing the auction. But we just didn't get enough story out of him; it was too mysterious of an opening scene.
Anthony Russo followed up by pointing out that it didn't provide enough specificity in regards to who Zemo is as a villain in Captain America: Civil War, and then Stephen McFeely explained why the scene that is featured in the movie is so much better than what they originally planned. A big part of this is the fact that the sequence directly ties directly back to the film's opening with the inclusion of a specific character. Said McFeely,
It did not connect him to the opening of the movie cleanly. This one does -- you get the red book, and you literally get Karpov, which is perhaps the most important thing.
In addition to the arguments made by the Captain America: Civil War directors and writers, it's also worth noting that gassing an entire room of people would have seriously changed the way the audience looked at Helmut Zemo as well. By the end of the movie you are actually supposed to somewhat sympathize with the antagonist -- being a very real victim of the Avengers' collateral damage -- but that's a pretty hard thing to do if the character's first scene has him indiscriminately killing a room full of people. That's a pretty big step up from killing the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of a Nazi.
Do you feel that the Russo brothers and Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus made the right choice, or do you think that the alternate intro for Helmut Zemo would have worked? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts, and get your own digital copy of Captain America: Civil War today!