Vasily Karpov

vasilijkarpovfilmTime for another character appearing in Captain America: Civil War. The movie opens with a flashback, in which we see a Russian Hydra agent waking the Winter Soldier up for a mission, reactivating his mind control to be able to give him orders: that’s Vasily Karpov, portrayed by Gene Farber. Karpov appears in other flashbacks, where he seems to be not exactly able to control the other 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 pretty much the same, but he’s never been affiliated to Hydra, and he never met Zemo. Let’s see together.

Vasily Karpov was born in Russia, at the beginning of the XX Century. Still a young man during the Revolution, he supported the rising Communist regime, and when he was of age he entered the military; with his intelligence, ruthlessness and loyalty he rapidly rose in ranks, and when World War II started, Karpov was already an esteemed commander. Karpov had become an Army General when the German forces attacked his homecountry, and he led many soldiers in the effort of repelling the enemies; the Nazis however had some aces up their sleeve, and they had sent two of their Super Soldiers, the Red Skull and the Master Man, behind enemy lines, and they had conquered the village of Kronas to use it as base of operations. Karpov was ordered to reconquer the village and to repel the Red Skull’s invasion forces, but the Super Soldiers were simply out of reach for regular troops; despite his pride, Karpov was forced to ask the Western Allies for help. He obtained support in the form of the Invaders, a team of American superheroes, led by Captain America himself. Karpov didn’t exactly trust the Invaders at first (the name of the team didn’t encourage that, by the way), but fighting along with them he learnt to respect them, especially Cap. When Captain America took on the Red Skull, Karpov had some sort of epiphany, and understood how much overpowered his beloved country was: Germany and the United States had their own Super Soldiers, their futuristic secret weapons, their genius scientists, while everything the vasilijkarpovcomics1Soviet Union had as tactical advantage was a dead cold winter… not something that would have discouraged the likes of the Red Skull for long. After the battle was won, and the Germans repelled, Karpov left his allies with a mix of fear and gratitude; he adopted two boys whose parents had been killed during the battle, Alexsander Lukin, whom he trained to become one day his successor, and Alexi Shostakov, whom he had other, more ambitious plans for. Back to the headquarters, Karpov started a variety of projects to create a Russian Super Soldier, and the first successful one involved Shostakov himself, who became the Red Guardian. Finally, the Soviet Union could stand on equal ground with both enemies and allies.

Red Guardian was a success, and Karpov was rewarded with the direction of Department X, a secret facility entrusted with the creation of Soviet Super Soldiers. When, in 1945, Captain America was apparently killed in a battle with Baron Heinrich Zemo, General Karpov led a Soviet submarine to search for the wrecks of the plane, hoping to find something useful in the American hero’s body. What he found, however, was the body of Bucky Barnes, the hero’s sidekick, preserved by the extreme cold of the ocean. Karpov and his men collected Bucky, who was still alive despite missing an arm: the general decided they could have used him as part of Department X’s operations, and thanks to a series of experiments aimed to replace Bucky’s missing arm with a bionic one and to brainwash him to transform him into a perfect drone, the American boy was transformed into the Winter Soldier, USSR‘s first super assassin. Karpov was the sole responsible of the Winter Soldier, and he put him on suspended animation everytime he wasn’t needed for a mission, so that his aging was slowed. The only exception was made when he allowed the Winter Soldier to enter another one of the many projects Karpov was following, the Black Widow Program, aimed to train undetectable and highly trained super spies. The Winter Soldier was selected as a trainer in the Red Room Academy, but Karpov suspended his assignment and put him back in suspended animation the moment he realized his Super Soldier had started a relation with one of the best recruits of the Black Widow Program, Natalia Romanova. Karpov kept controlling the Winter Soldier for years, reprogramming him from time to time vasilijkarpovcomics2and assigning him a number of missions both in and outside the Union; eventually, when Aleksander Lukin was ready, he left him in charge of the project and moved to the Middle East, where he kept following some of his secret operations, but mostly lived as a retired officer. He died in the 1980s of old age, after a life entirely dedicated to serve his country as nobody else before him had ever done.

Vasily Karpov is a serious and committed man, totally dedicated to making his country as great and powerful as the others he saw in action during World War II. Smart and resourceful, he’s very inventive, and his complete lack of moral boundaries make his projects extremely effective. A trained soldier and a capable leader, Vasily Karpov is the man behind the power of the Soviet Union in the aftermaths of World War II, the one who, from behind the curtains, allowed his country to become a world superpower.