Helmut J. Zemo (Phoenix/Baron Zemo)

baronzemofilmAnother series of images from the upcoming Captain America: Civil War finally revealed the movie’s villain, Baron Helmut Zemo, portrayed by Daniel Brühl. Apparently, Zemo will be the one pulling the strings from behind the curtains, and bringing Captain America and Iron Man face each other in battle under a political pretext. He surely looks different from his comicbook counterpart, especially because he lacks his notorious and trademark purple mask (as well as anything that could make him look even a little bit intimidating). Nothing else is known about him right now, at least if we want to avoid spoilers from the ones who watched the premiere. Waiting to see the movie as well, let’s take a look at the original Baron Zemo.

Helmut Zemo was born in Leipzig, Germany, the son of Baron Heinrich Zemo and of his wife Hilda. Heinrich was an important Nazi officer, and he taught his child to believe in the ideals of the Master Race, at the top of which there was supposed to be the Zemo lineage. Helmut, in fact, was the thirteenth man to don the title of Baron Zemo, a glorious and ancient legacy that inspired him to seek glory, conquest and dominion over the Untermenschen (the “inferior men”, meaning everybody but Zemos). The war, however, ended with the Nazis‘ defeat, even if it turned out to be a personal victory for Heinrich Zemo, as he managed to kill his long-time nemesis Captain America. Helmut had to follow another path, and became a skilled engineer: while publicly he was a respected professional and a brilliant inventor, in secret Zemo used his family’s fortune and the money he earned to recreate and perfect his father’s projects. When after decades Captain America was found alive, and Heinrich Zemo died while facing him in South America, Helmut decided to abandon all compromises and to embrace his legacy. Using his highly technological devices, Zemo created the masked identity of the Phoenix, calling himself baronzemocomics1after the mystical bird able to resurrect from his ashes; he then proceeded to kidnap Captain America, wanting to exact revenge for his father’s death. The hero, however, wasn’t so easily killed: he freed himself and confronted his captor, who fell into a boiling vat of experimental Adhesive X during the fight. Cap left, believing the last Zemo to be dead, but the Phoenix honored his name, and survived the fall; Adhesive X, however, horribly disfigured him, and his skin looked like molten wax. In order to hide his hideous visage, Helmut recovered his father’s mask, another family heritage, and spent the following years to plan his revenge…but this time, he would have thought this thoroughly. He recovered his father’s connections with the Nazi party and Hydra, and entered in contact with notorious war criminals such as Arnim Zola and the Red Skull. Using his intellect and resources, and the others’ experience, he would have led a major strike to Captain America.

With his new allies, Zemo gathered informations about his enemy, and revealed himself when he used Primus and the other monsters from Zola’s mutates to attack Captain America: he left the hero with hordes of monsters, and before disappearing he revealed to him that he knew his secret identity, promising that he would have come back for Steve Rogers. His psychological war on Cap went on when, after being trained by the Red Skull and his daughter Mother Superior, he kidnapped the hero’s friend, David Cox, and brainwashed him to fight Cap. He also abducted another friend of Cap’s, Arnold Roth, landing another devastating blow on the hero, but in the meanwhile he also plotted against his allies, trying to convince the Red Skull to nominate him as his heir, knowing that he was dying and that he didn’t want a woman to succeed him. When Mother Superior found this out, she battled Zemo, and the Baron was vanquished by her psychic powers…but she was rejected by her father on his deathbed nevertheless. Again, Baron Zemo survived, and came back soon after to hunt down his nemesis once again. After another embarassing series of failures, Baron Zemo copied another one of his father’s ideas, and reformed Heinrich Zemo’s super team, the Masters of Evil, an idea that other villains (namely Ultron and Egghead) had baronzemocomics2before him. Helmut’s Masters of Evil, however, proved to be the most powerful and effective version of the squad ever: he reunited under his command Absorbing Man, TitaniaTiger SharkGrey GargoyleWhirlwind, the Wrecking Crew, Moonstone, Screaming MimiGoliathMister HydeBlackoutBlack Mamba and Fixer, an impressive deployment of resources that surpassed any previous incarnation of the team. Baron Zemo studied for a long time the Avengers, Cap’s team, and discoveried both their strengths and weaknesses; then, he used the heroes’ relations to put them one against the other, then he led a massive attack on the Avengers Mansion, resulting in a burning defeat for the heroes. Black Knight was captured, Jarvis was tortured by Hyde, Hercules was sent into a coma, and Captain America himself was exiled in another dimension by Blackout; only Wasp remained to deal with the army of criminals, but the Masters of Evil didn’t even consider her to be a menace. Baron Zemo had finally succeded where everyone before him had failed: he had defeated Captain America and the Avengers (for the moment…).

Helmut Zemo is a proud and brilliant man, a multi-faceted genius who is by right one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Firmly believing in his father’s Nazi ideals, Zemo lives to honor him and his memory, but ended up surpassing him in everything: as the thirteenth Baron Zemo, he is a tactician born, a master planner who uses allies and enemies alike in his complicated and unfathomable schemes; he’s also an olympic-level athlete, a master hand-to-hand combatant, an unbeatable swordsman and a remarkable marksman; the constant use of Compound X slows his aging, making him virtually immortal. A cunning deceiver and a charismatic leader, a despot and a warrior, Baron Zemo poses an incredible threat to the so-called “free world”, being a conqueror with all the resources and the intellect to resurrect a dispotic and racist ideology.

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6 Comments

  1. […] Helmut J. Zemo (Phoenix/Baron Zemo) […]

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  5. […] Winter Soldiers like he does with the original one, and in present days he’s confronted by Helmut Zemo, who wants to obtain from him the secret to control the Soldier. In the comics, part of his role is […]

  6. […] was clear that despite everything the Red Skull still didn’t want a female heir, as he took Baron Zemo under his wing to make him his “rightful” […]


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