Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo might not have any superpowers or an army of henchmen to do his bidding, but he still proved to be one of the most formidable villains in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by using little more than his intellect and a relentless quest for vengeance to split the Avengers apart in Captain America: Civil War.
He managed to sever the bond between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, pit two warring factions of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against each other in an epic battle, and his plan may well have seen the Avengers disbanded permanently had a certain intergalactic genocidal maniac not shown up with designs on wiping out half of all life in the universe.
The vast majority of the MCU’s bad guys tend to be paint-by-numbers antagonists that are usually positioned as evil mirror images of whatever hero they’re opposing, so a more restrained and cerebral nemesis like Zemo marked a refreshing change of pace. The character is set to return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as well, presumably to carry on tormenting Bucky, and this time he’ll even get to wear his famous purple mask from the comic books.
And while we might not have seen it in Captain America: Civil War, newly-released concept art from the movie shows that in the early design stages, Zemo’s look was set to be much more comic-accurate, and you can check out the images below.
The heroes of the MCU have battled aliens, robots, monsters, sorcerers and even each other, but one of their greatest adversaries turned out to be little more than a man with a grudge and nothing to lose, meaning that by the time Zemo escapes custody in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier he could be more dangerous and hellbent on revenge than ever before.