Warning: This articles contains SPOILERS for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Fans shouldn’t start liking Helmut Zemo just yet.
In new interviews, Daniel Bruhl summarizes that while his Civil War villain may be a surprising ally on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s far too soon to say he’s becoming even an anti-hero.
It had been expected that Zemo would be one of the key villains of the series, but the show ended up taking a different route.
Needing info on the Flag-Smashers, Sam and Bucky end up breaking Zemo out of his prison cell and heading to Madripoor. Naturally, they don’t want to trust the guy who helped tear the Avengers apart, but to their surprise, Zemo turns out to be amazingly helpful.
Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, Bruhl said he was always hopeful the character would return, but he was surprised at the circumstances.
“I mean, it’s always a good sign when they don’t kill you. So I was always hoping and thinking that maybe one day they would come up with an idea to bring me back, but I seriously didn’t know anything about it. So it really took me by surprise.”
The episode reveals more of Zemo’s background, tying into the comics in how he’s actually a Baron and so rich he has his own private plane with a butler. Bruhl relayed to The Wrap that he was happy to become closer to the Zemo of the comics.
“Looking Zemo up and reading some of the old comic books, I always thought it’s a shame that I couldn’t wear that mask (in ‘Civil War’). And also the fact that he’s a Baron. To explore that aristocratic background that he has is always so fascinating. I never had the impression that I was repeating myself. I didn’t have the fear of it becoming redundant.”
Not so nice
The episode has Zemo aiding the heroes with some surprising humor, including a dance sequence. He also helps them when they’re attacked by enemies and honestly seems to want to atone for his dark actions.
However, Bruhl was quick to respond to the question of whether Sam, Bucky, and the audience should actually trust Zemo in the end.
No, never. (Laughs.) And that’s the good thing. If it’s hard to read and tell what somebody is up to, that ambiguity — which people always enjoy and I do enjoy — is always fun. So, yeah, you shouldn’t really trust him. But I guess it has become apparent that he is not an evil supervillain; there’s more to him, which we already know from the other movie.
But in the conversations between the three of them, we have intensified the very human side of Zemo. I disagree with his radical methods, but it’s understandable based on where he comes from. So I understand if people empathize with Zemo, and I would understand if everybody joins Team Zemo by the end of the show.
Bruhl also confirmed how moments from the “Zemo Dance” and rubbing Sebastian Stan’s chin cleft were all improvised by him on set.
Zemo and Panther
Bruhl warmly discussed the climax of Civil War, where Zemo confessed to the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) that he was doing all this to avenge his family and showing the heartbreak driving him on.
Like any MCU actor, Bruhl was emotional mentioning Boseman, who shockingly passed away from colon cancer last August.
I was surprised by how incredibly touched I was. I only had one scene with him, but that day really left a strong impression on me because I was blown away by this man’s talent, aura and personality. He was bold, brave, charismatic and intense. His acting was absolutely fascinating. So it’s a huge loss, not only for the MCU, but the whole cinematic realm. He was mesmerizing. He was wonderful. So it’s really sad.”
Bruhl also acknowledged how he and Chris Hemsworth had co-starred in the movie Rush but is too afraid of suggesting a scene of Zemo meeting Thor. “Maybe a little dance between these two?”
While Zemo may end up becoming the villain of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier after all, it will be one fans love to hate.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming new episodes every Friday on Disney+.