Daniel Bruhl as Helmut Zemo in Captain America Civil War

In the end, all those rumors about Daniel Brühl playing Helmut Zemo in Captain America: Civil War turned out to be true. However, the version of Zemo we saw onscreen wasn’t much like the one we know from the comics. He had a completely different backstory and a completely different look. Gone were the purple mask and militaristic outfit; instead, we got a normal-looking guy in everyday civilian clothing. Were it not for the fact that Brühl’s character is explicitly identified as “Zemo” in the film, you might not even know they were supposed to be the same character.

But it seems Marvel Studios did at least consider the classic Zemo look at one point. Artist Andy Park has shared an interesting bit of conceptual art that shows what a more traditional Zemo could have looked like in Civil War. Check out the Civil War Zemo concept art below. 

For comparison, here’s what Zemo looks like in the comics:

Baron Helmut Zemo

And here’s what Zemo looked like in Captain America: Civil War:

Daniel Bruhl as Helmut Zemo in Captain America Civil War

I think he changes his outfit a few times in the movie, but you get the idea: the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Zemo is an exceedingly normal-looking fellow. He’s dressed like any other guy walking around outside your window right now. Heck, you might be dressed in some version of his outfit as you read this right now. If Thanos, with his gold armor and jewel-encrusted gauntlet, is on one end of the “flamboyant comic book supervillain costume” spectrum, Zemo is all the way on the other.

And that’s fine for Civil War. As far as superhero movies go, Civil War is a pretty grounded affair and Zemo is a pretty grounded villain. He doesn’t have any superpowers or supernatural connections or anything like that; he’s an ordinary person out to get revenge on the extraordinary people he blames for the tragedy that ruined his life. There’s no real plot reason for him to be wearing a purple mask and swinging around a sword, and explaining how he wound up in that getup probably would’ve been more trouble than it was worth in a film as crowded as Civil War.

That said, it did feel like a bit of a letdown to see Zemo looking so toned down. There are many things the Marvel movies do well, but creating memorable villains isn’t one of them, and with his bland style Zemo was even more forgettable than most. (It didn’t help, either, that his main purpose was to orchestrate a conflict between Captain America and Iron Man — they got the big climactic showdown, not Zemo.) On the bright side, Zemo actually (spoiler alert!) survived his run-in with the Avengers, unlike some of the other baddies we’ve seen, so there’s always a chance he could resurface in a future film. Maybe next time, he’ll even decide to upgrade his costume to something a little more in line with his comic book counterpart.

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Have something to say about this post?
Click to join the discussion.