FANDOM


For other uses, see Baron Zemo (disambiguation)
"An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again. But one which crumbles from within? That's dead. Forever."
―Helmut Zemo[src]

Helmut Zemo is a former Colonel with the Sokovian Armed Forces and the commander for their EKO Scorpion. Following the Battle of Sokovia, Zemo became the terrorist mastermind who sought his revenge against the Avengers after losing his family and became obsessed with destroying them. Knowing he was no match against the Avengers, Zemo had planned to have them destroy themselves, by framing the Winter Soldier for killing T'Chaka, which caused Captain America to defend Barnes from the world. That action had caused their Avengers Civil War, in which Iron Man led their manhunt for Barnes and Zemo allowed Stark to discover that Barnes was responsible for his parent's murder. With the Avengers now in ruins, Zemo tried to shoot himself, but was captured by Black Panther and given to Joint Counter Terrorist Centre for his imprisonment.

Biography

Early Life

EKO Scorpion

"Zemo ran EKO Scorpion, a Sokovian covert kill squad."
F.R.I.D.A.Y.[src]

Helmut Zemo was born in 1978 in Novi Grad, the capital city of Sokovia. Zemo became a Sokovian intelligence officer and commander of EKO Scorpion, an elite Sokovian paramilitary tactical unit. Despite the nature of his job, he was able to form a family marrying a woman and having a son, Carl. Zemo and his family lived a happy life within Novi Grad, and maintained good relationships with his father in the Sokovian countryside. His son also developed his fascination with the Avengers and had desired to see them, specifically Iron Man, in action.[1]

Battle of Sokovia

"I told my wife, "Don't worry. They're fighting in the city. We're miles from harm." When the dust cleared, and the screaming stopped, it took me two days until I found their bodies. My father still holding my wife and son in his arms. And the Avengers? They went home."
―Helmut Zemo to T'Challa[src]
Colonel Helmut Zemo - Sokovian EKO Skorpion (The Making of CACW)

Zemo during his time within EKO Scorpion

However, his happiness was not to last. When Ultron attacked Sokovia, Zemo and his EKO Scorpion squad were called upon to assist in the defense of Sokovia. Zemo sent his family to take refuge at his father's home outside of Novi Grad, where he believed they would be safe from peril. Despite this, his wife, son and father were killed as a result - their bodies were found by Zemo two days after the Sokovia battle. Though Ultron was defeated and destroyed by the Avengers, Zemo angrily blamed them for causing his family's death and developed a hatred for them showing an apparent lack of concern for the innocent lives lost during their campaigns of protecting the Earth and thus he vowed to destroy the team at all costs. Knowing he could not hope to win by force, he sought to manipulate them into destroying each other instead.[1]

Manipulating the Avengers

Questioning Vasily Karpov

ZemoCrashesCar

Zemo manages to find and trick Vasily Karpov

"HYDRA deserves its place on the ash heap, so your death would not bother me. But I'd have to use this book, and other bloodier methods to find what I need. I don't look forward to that. You'd only be dying for your pride."
―Helmut Zemo to Vasily Karpov[src]

To that end, Zemo located Vasily Karpov, one of the former leaders of the Winter Soldier Program, who was in hiding with HYDRA having been wiped out. Having discovered Karpov's location, Zemo knew that he would be unable to easily break into Karpov's home so he then instead faked a car crash and asked Karpov to invite him inside to discuss the matter in private, rather than contacting the police.

7mVZqbCm-1-

Zemo questioning and torturing Vasily Karpov

Once Karpov had opened the door, Zemo attacked and subdued him before tying him upside down above his sink slowly filling with water. Using his hammer to bust through the walls of Karpov's cellar, Zemo had eventually found and took the Winter Soldier Book from Karpov's HYDRA files and then introduced himself while speaking politely with Karpov, before he demanded information about their assassination of Howard and Maria Stark which had occurred back in the year 1991.

ZemoKillsKarpov

Zemo leaves a defiant Vasily Karpov to drown

Despite Zemo making his intentions very clear that he would not stop until he had obtained the information he needed to exact his revenge, noting that his loyalties did not lie within HYDRA, Karpov had refused to help him. Seeing that Karpov would not speak with him, Zemo left the tap running, while Karpov gave the famous HYDRA salute. Zemo walked straight out of Karpov's house, while taking all his new stolen belongings while Karpov slowly drowned inside of his own sink.

ZemoWinterSoldier-Disguise

Zemo frames the Winter Soldier for a bombing

Using the information he had obtained, Zemo had then proceeded to frame the former Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes, into taking the fall for a bombing which then killed the Wakandan king T'Chaka. The timing of events coincided with the signing of the Sokovia Accords, the new framework that would place any enhanced people under government oversight, and a burgeoning cause for some friction between Captain America, who refused oversight, and Iron Man, who supported it.[1]

Mission Preparation

ZemoWaitsForBroussard

Zemo awaits the arrival of Theo Broussard

"Ich konnte es riechen, bevor ich die Tür öffnete"[2]
"Wieder Speck und schwarzen Kaffee. Ich kann dich etwas anders machen, wenn du magst"[3]
"Das ist wunderbar[4]"
―Helmut Zemo and Maid[src]

Having been hunted across the world for his apparent involvement in T'Chaka's death, Bucky Barnes was eventually caught and subdued in part to the efforts of Everett Ross' men and War Machine and, into the custody of the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre.[1] Knowing this, Zemo awaited the arrival of Theo Broussard while listening to his late wife's voicemail message before greeting Broussard.[5]

ZemoLearningWords

Zemo memorizing the HYDRA control words

Zemo then brought Broussard back to his own hotel room where he proceeded to murder him and hid his body inside the bathtub. While practicing reading the trigger words from the Winter Soldier Book he would need to gain full control of the Winter Soldier, Zemo was then interrupted by the arrival of his breakfast, not allowing the woman to enter so she did not see Broussard's corpse or the bomb that he had made. Zemo then had an ally deliver the bomb to a power station.[1]

Activating the Winter Soldier

Zemo1

Zemo interviews the captured Bucky Barnes

"Желание, Ржавый, Семнадцать, Рассвет, Печь, Девять, Добросердечный, Возвращение на Родину, Один, Товарный вагон. Солдат?"[6]
"Я жду приказаний."[7]."
―Helmut Zemo and Winter Soldier[src]

Arriving inside the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre Building, Zemo had found Bucky Barnes was locked in the contained cell with his robotic arm tightly fixed down with Zemo soon managing to get past security and posed as the psychiatrist Theo Broussard, who was supposed to evaluate his mental state before Barnes was sent into Wakanda to await his trial for the murders of T'Chaka and many others. Knowing that their cameras were on him, while people like Everett Ross were watching him closely, Zemo began by doing his true evaluation of Barnes' mind while awaiting news on the next stage of his plans.

Zemo-Glasses-RedLight

Zemo shuts off all the power within the facility

As Zemo continued with the evaluation, he questioned Barnes about the horrors that he had seen throughout his life in World War II and as an assassin for HYDRA, only for Barnes to insist that he did not want to talk about this. Before he continued, Zemo then got the text giving him a warning just before the power around the facility was shut off, including the cameras, before Zemo then told Barnes that it was time to talk about his true home, the one he had while serving HYDRA.

Zemo-ReadingWords

Zemo manages to activate the Winter Soldier

Zemo then re-activated Barnes' Winter Soldier Program training by using the HYDRA manual he procured from Barnes' former handler Vasily Karpov, which led to Barnes breaking free of his restraints to stop Zemo's plans, ripping his arms free and punching the glass to try and get away. Zemo was able to finish saying the codewords just as Barnes broke free and finally became his willing assassin. Zemo requested the mission report about the death of Howard Stark.

ZemoControlsWinterSoldier-RedLight

Zemo gives the Winter Soldier his next orders

Having obtained all the information that he needed about the deaths of the Stark family as well as the Winter Soldiers that he intended to use as bait in the next part of his plan to destroy the Avengers, Zemo had then ordered the Winter Soldier to fight and destroy anyone who attempted to stop him before getting into a helicopter and escaping, believing that this escape attempt would seemingly prove his guilt for both the bombing and the murder of T'Chaka to the entire world.

SteveRogers-vs-HelmutZemo

Zemo being confronted by Captain America

As the Winter Soldier obeyed all of his orders, Zemo then lay on the ground, as if he had been assaulted himself in order to maintain his cover. While the Winter Soldier remained out of sight for an ambush, Zemo was then confronted by Captain America and Falcon who had attempted to save Barnes. Seeing Zemo lying on the ground, Rogers suspected something was wrong as he had demanded to know what Zemo wanted, and was told that he wanted to see an empire fall.

Zemo-EscapingJCTC

Zemo making a swift escape from Sam Wilson

However, before Rogers could put Zemo into his custody, the Winter Soldier charged forward and attacked, knocking Sam Wilson down to the floor before using his Prosthetic Arm to then throw Rogers down an elevator shaft. As Zemo had checked if Rogers had been killed by the impact, Wilson awoke and chased the fleeing Zemo, who ran up the flights of stairs, with Wilson close behind. Eventually Zemo made it outside to Berlin where he ditched his jacket and disappeared.[1]

Killing the Winter Soldiers

HelmutZemo-VoiceMessage

Zemo listens to his wife's final voice message

"If it's any comfort, they died in their sleep. Did you really think I wanted more of you?"
"What the hell?"
"I'm grateful to them, though. They brought you here."
―Helmut Zemo and Winter Soldier[src]

Once the Avengers' co-leaders had gathered forces for their factions and fought each other to a near-standstill over their continued tensions surrounding the Winter Soldier's escape and how it impacted the Sokovia Accords, Zemo continued his plans as he prepared to travel to Siberia in order to seemingly to reawaken the five remaining soldiers from the Winter Soldier Program from their cryostasis.

Zemo 2

Zemo catches a plane towards Siberia, Russia

While waiting for transport out of Germany, before his involvement in all the chaos could be exposed, Zemo had again listened to the last voicemail message left by his deceased wife to remind himself of his motives against the Avengers following the Battle of Sokovia, as they destroyed his family. Boarding the plane towards his next destination, Zemo made his escape from Berlin and soon arrived in Moscow, and had then proceeded to travel into the Siberian region of Russia.

Zemo-YouKnowMeSoWell

Zemo prepares to locate the HYDRA facility

Having arrived and hired his snow plow to make it through the harsh weather towards the HYDRA Siberian Facility, where he had learned from Vasily Karpov that the Winter Soldier had been kept, Zemo then contacted his hotel back in Berlin and requested his usual breakfast, knowing that the maid would find Theo Broussard's corpse, allowing all of those who had been tracking him down to learn his true identity and follow him, so the final stage of Zemo's plan could happen.

ZemoTorchLight-CACW

Zemo discovers the remaining Winter Soldiers

Zemo eventually arrived at the HYDRA Facility where Karpov worked for decades and all of found the Winter Soldiers including Josef, who were still held inside Cryostasis Chambers, peacefully awaiting their next orders. While he had awaited the arrival of Captain America and the Winter Soldier, who were being followed by Iron Man, Zemo killed all five soldiers with a single bullet into the head each while they slept before then finding a sealed room for him to wait for his enemies.[1]

Fall of the Avengers

ZemoInHisBunker

Zemo reveals his location to the three heroes

"Sokovia was a failed state long before you blew it to hell. No. I'm here because I made a promise."
"You lost someone."
"I lost everyone. And so will you."
―Helmut Zemo and Captain America[src]

While he waited in his bunker, Zemo witnessed the arrival of his three enemies as he turned on all the lights and revealed the dead Winter Soldiers, questioning if they believed that his plan was to have more of the Winter Soldier in the world. Once Zemo revealed his location, Captain America had then attempted to subdue him by launching his Shield directly at Zemo, only for it to bounce off the bunker wall.

ZemoSpeakingWithCapAm

Zemo commenting at Captain America's flaws

Zemo then calmly noted that if they killed him then they would never learn why he had brought them there, before Captain America then questioned why he killed innocent people, including T'Chaka, simply to bring them to this location. Facing his enemy, Zemo told Captain America that he had thought about nothing else for over a year, and he had studied everything about him, before joking that he was glad to see that he had green in his eyes, which Zemo called a flaw.

ZemoShowsCapTheFootage

Zemo showing footage of the Stark's murder

Captain America deduced that Zemo was Sokovian, questioning if this what his revenge was about, only for Zemo to note that Sokovia was a failed state even before it was destroyed by the Avengers, as he explained that he was there because he made a promise, before explaining that due to the Avengers, he had lost everybody he cared about. Zemo then put on the video that he had obtained, noting that the only way to completely destroy an empire, was from within.

ZemoRevealsTrueIntentions

Zemo explains everything for Captain America

Zemo watched on while footage of the Winter Soldier tracking down and killing Howard and Maria Stark played in front of them, much to the complete horror of Tony Stark. Just as Zemo had planned, seeing his parents being killed by the Winter Soldier drove Stark into a fit of rage, made worse as Rogers revealed that he had always known this, resulting in Stark furiously attacking his former allies to kill the Winter Soldier, while Zemo then quietly escaped during all of the chaos.[1]

Success and Arrest

ZemoConfession-BlackPanther

Zemo explains his backstory to Black Panther

"Justice will come soon enough."
"Tell that to the dead."
"The living are not done with you yet."
Black Panther and Helmut Zemo[src]

Zemo awaited the result of the ensuing battle in the snow, content that he had split the Avengers apart as their leaders fought to the death. While overlooking the landscape, Zemo listened to his wife's final voicemail one last time, before deleting it. Black Panther had then found Zemo and they discussed his involvement in the demise of T'Chaka, which had almost led to Black Panther killing the innocent Winter Soldier for revenge due to all of Zemo's manipulations.

T'ChallastopsZemo

Zemo being finally subdued by Black Panther

Seeing the rage of Captain America and Iron Man, Black Panther had refused to allow himself to be consumed by revenge, seeing it within Zemo's heart. Believing his scheme to be complete regardless, Zemo attempted his suicide by placing his gun under his chin; however, the Black Panther stopped him in time by catching the bullet in the palm of his Panther Habit and putting Zemo in a choke hold.[1] Zemo was then bound up by Black Panther, who took him to be arrested.[8]

Zemo CW

Zemo being held under Everett Ross' custody

Zemo, arrested for all his crimes against the Avengers, was left to be mocked in a containment cell by Everett Ross at the headquarters of the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre. Ross taunted Zemo by explaining that if he ever tried to escape or even raised his voice in protest, he would receive a painful electric shock. Ross then asked Zemo how it felt to see his plans fail so spectacularly after spending so much time and effort and Zemo had simply replied by asking him, "Did it?"[1]

Personality

"You killed innocent people in Vienna just to bring us here?"
"I've thought about nothing else for over a year."
Captain America and Helmut Zemo[src]

Helmut Zemo was a member of a death squad of the Sokovian Armed Forces that managed to build a happy family despite the nature of his job. However, the war between the Avengers and Ultron resulted in the death of his whole family, and he became consumed with anger and hatred. Despite knowing the Avengers were not the villains of that war, Zemo nevertheless held them responsible. Without any means or resources to take the powerful group head-on, he wished to destroy the Avengers from the inside, ensuring that they are forever crippled, if not dismantled outright.

While he is a very vengeful man, he is actually more the ultimate personification of manipulation as he is able to carefully plan and execute all the steps required to manipulate the 'pieces' involved to do his bidding, whether if said 'pieces' realize it or not. His use of psychological warfare was so brilliant that he was able to compensate for previously unaccounted factors--including the death of T'Chaka and Black Panther joining the fray, and turn these seemingly rogue factors into a means to advance his plans.

Despite his relentless attempts at trying to destroy the Avengers, Zemo is ultimately not without a conscience. He first tried to interrogate a HYDRA officer, but stated that if he didn't get the mission report from the officer, then he would resort to more violent means that he didn't enjoy. Zemo also sincerely apologized to T'Challa for accidentally killing his father, and even opened up to him about why he wanted the Avengers destroyed. This caused even T'Challa, a man who had wanted Zemo's death the most, to sympathize with his current situation, and even spare him, as he realized that revenge would have completely consumed and destroyed him, as it did with Zemo.

Zemo intended to kill himself after avenging his family, as he had little else to live for, and only T'Challa's timely intervention stopped him from shooting himself. Zemo kept a voice message of his late wife on his phone as one of the last connections from his former life that he held onto, which he often played over. He deleted the message as he was about to commit suicide--a sign that he was ready to join his family.

As a person out to destroy what he sees as an empire, he ironically is fearful of loss despite being someone who has little else to lose. His plans required careful planning and execution, which in turn require extreme levels of patience and focus with loads of contingencies ready at hand, as the slightest mistake or oversight could easily result in the complete failure of his endeavor.

Like most who are out for vengeance and has committed horrible acts to do so, he feels no joy and finds no solace despite the fact that his plans ultimately succeeded while he is comes out alive. At the end of his journey, Zemo's motivation to live dissipated and he is overcome by grief and guilt, seeing death as the only way out of his misery and make amends for the atrocities he wreaked.

Abilities

  • Master Tactician: Helmut Zemo, as the former intelligence officer and commander of the elite Sokovian paramilitary tactical unit EKO Scorpion, is a brilliant tactician, being able to mastermind a series of events in order to get his revenge against the Avengers for their role in the destruction of Sokovia and the death of his family. He was also smart enough to know that he had no hope of killing the Avengers, even if he had raised an army. So then, Zemo decided that it would instead be better to manipulate them into destroying themselves, which he succeeded in doing, with Iron Man and Captain America starting the Avengers Civil War, and the organization comes out fractured and to a certain extent, crippled. Although he had the option of releasing the other brainwashed Winter Soldiers from their sleep at the HYDRA Siberian Facility, he deemed that releasing the assassins would result in the Avengers joining forces to fight Zemo, instead of their division. Zemo, along with Thanos, was the only other strategist to defeat the Avengers.
  • Multilingualism: Zemo can speak his native Sokovian, as well as English, German, and Russian. He is good enough with English to fake a very convincing American accent.
"Most of it was encrypted. Not easy to decipher. But I have experience and patience. A man can do anything if he has those."
―Helmut Zemo to Vasily Karpov[src]
  • Master Hacker: After Black Widow released all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s and HYDRA's files on the Internet, Zemo was able to hack and decrypt the files pertaining to the Winter Soldier Program.
  • Combatant: Zemo's extensive military and black ops background gave him an adequate degree of knowledge on close-quarters combat. While he's not as talented as Captain America or Black Panther, he was able to easily take down Vasily Karpov.
  • Expert Engineer: Zemo was able to build an EMP bomb that was able to take out Berlin's power plant.

Equipment

Weapons

  • Smith & Wesson 6906: Zemo took this weapon to Siberia while preparing an ambush on the Avengers, killing the Winter Soldiers with it and successfully manipulating Iron Man into attacking Captain America and the Winter Soldier in retaliation for the assassination of Stark's parents. With his personal mission completed, he went outside the facility to listen to his wife's latest voice message for the last time and attempted to use the handgun to commit suicide. However, Black Panther prevented him from killing himself in order to make Zemo pay for his crimes.
  • AK-103: Members of EKO Scorpion, including Zemo, were issued these assault rifles as their standard weapon during operations, even appearing in photographs with the rifles.
  • Various Bombs
    • Incendiary Device: Zemo used the bomb to kill the attendees of the Vienna conference.
    • EMP: Zemo used this to knock out the power to the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre Building in Berlin, Germany, allowing him to free the Winter Soldier without being seen or heard.

Other Equipment

Facilities

Prisons

ERossSpeakingToZemo

Zemo imprisoned by Everett Ross

Relationships

Family

Allies

Enemies

Appearances

Appearances for Helmut Zemo

In chronological order:

Trivia

  • In the comics, Helmut Zemo is a German Baron and the son of Heinrich Zemo and Hilda Zemo, and by extension of this is a descendant of Harbin Zemo, Hademar Zemo, Heller Zemo, Hilliard Zemo and Herman Zemo and the thirteenth baron of the Zemo bloodline. Outside of having led HYDRA and some incarnations of the Masters of Evil, Helmut Zemo masqueraded himself as Citizen V when working as a member of the Thunderbolts. After have been severely disfigured, Zemo uses a purple mask to cover his scars.
  • Zemo appears to have a taste for bacon and black coffee, ordering it every day while staying in a hotel.
  • Zemo is left handed.

Behind the Scenes

  • Captain America: Civil War writer Stephen McFeely explained Zemo's back-story was heavily changed from the comic book version because it felt false to have the younger Zemo motivated by the death of his World War II ancestor. "We would really have to stretch all of that given that it's the MCU and Steve is 70 years removed as opposed to when they unthawed him in the comics and it's 20 years," he said.[9]

References

Transparent AOU Logo
The Marvel Cinematic Universe wiki has a collection of images and media related to Helmut Zemo.
Transparent AOU Logo
The Marvel Cinematic Universe wiki has a collection of quotes related to Helmut Zemo.
  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Captain America: Civil War
  2. Translates from German to: "I could smell it before I opened the door.
  3. Translates from German to: Side of bacon and black coffee again. I can make you something different, if you like.
  4. Translates from German to: This is wonderful.
  5. Captain America: Civil War Deleted Scene
  6. Translates from Russian to: "Longing, Rusted, Seventeen, Daybreak, Furnace, Nine, Benign, Homecoming, One, Freight Car. Soldier?
  7. Translates from Russian to: Ready to comply.
  8. Avengers: Infinity War Prelude
  9. Why Zemo Is So Different In Captain America: Civil War From How He's Used In The Comics at Cinemablend

External Links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+