The villainous Baron Zemo has long been one of Captain America’s greatest villains. It’s no wonder he was used in
The History of Heinrich, the Original Baron Zemo
Baron Zemo was one of Cap’s greatest villains during World War II… although, he didn’t actually appear in a single Captain America story published in the ‘40s. He was actually one of comics’ first big retcons. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee introduce him in
Heinrich Zemo was a Nazi scientist from a long line of German noblemen dating back to the 15th century. He was in fact the twelfth nobleman to use the title of Baron Zemo. The scientific genius and expert fighter took to wearing a purple hood, to supposedly keep his true face secret. (Granted, he went by his real name to the general public. So not sure who he was trying to fool with that mask.)
Zemo invented a powerful non-dissolvable adhesive for Hitler’s army, with the corny sounding name “Adhesive X.” (This had nothing to do with the X-Men.) The hope was that this would be the key to defeating the Allies. In any event, when Cap stormed Zemo’s secret lab, the American hero destroyed vats of Adhesive X. Some of it spilled onto Zemo, permanently bonding his mask to his face. We’re not sure how he eats now, but maybe it’s best not to ask too many questions here.
After World War II, Zemo went into hiding in Argentina, as Nazis tend to do. He abandoned his wife and young son and heir, Helmut Zemo, in Germany. (But we’ll get to him later.) While in South America, Zemo enslaved a local tribe and declares himself king. All the while he tried to find a way to remove that pesky mask. He was content to rule there until Cap became unfrozen, after which all he wanted was revenge on his longtime nemesis. This began a targeted campaign against Cap and his newfound friends, the Avengers.
With several other Marvel villains, Zemo formed an anti-Avengers group called the Masters of Evil. These guys stuck around in one iteration or another for decades… but not Zemo. In
Zemo Jr. Takes Over
The villainous career of Baron Zemo was relatively short-lived in the comics; but his son Helmut Zemo ultimately had a much longer tenure in the Marvel Universe. He first appeared in 1973’s
History repeats itself, and Zemo Jr. also fell into a vat of the corrosive Adhesive X just like his father. But he wasn’t wearing his mask at the time, so it didn’t stick to his face forever. The acid did disfigure his face, giving it the appearance of molten wax. So he took to wearing the infamous purple mask to cover his visage. When he remerged as a villain years later, he uses his inherited title: Baron Zemo.
Helmut Zemo started a new version of the Masters of Evil, and came pretty close to causing real harm to the Avengers many times. He destroyed Avengers Mansion and nearly killed several members. He tried to resurrect his father, but that went badly. (We’re talking shuffling zombies here.) All of this caused bouts of insanity for Helmut, as he lost his grip on reality several times. But his ultimate plan would play out in the ‘90s, leading to one of Marvel’s most memorable superhero teams. (No, not supervillain teams!)
Citizen V and the Thunderbolts
It was during the late ’90s that Helmut Zemo attempted to pull off his greatest scheme. After the
The former bad guys, however,
The MCU version of Helmut Zemo is essentially a totally different character. He’s not a Baron, nor the son of an evil scientist. He’s a former Sokovian operative who loses his family in the events of