First cast five months ago, not long before Marvel Studios unveiled Captain America 3’s official title and the rest of their Phase 3 release schedule, Daniel Bruhl was – according to trade reports – going to play a villainous character who would have a smaller role in Captain America: Civil War and later return as the primary antagonist in Marvel’s second 2016 film, Doctor Strange.
Marvel has yet to confirm Bruhl’s role and the Doctor Strange connection caused confusion among comic readers since the character he was rumored to play, Baron Zemo, doesn’t have much to with Strange in Marvel Comics. So, while that part remains up in the air, we can at least finally confirm that Bruhl is indeed playing Zemo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The confirmation comes from the Spanish-born, German-raised star himself in an interview with The Independent where – with Captain America: Civil War beginning to shoot in the coming days – felt comfortable (read: safe from Marvel) enough to finally spill the beans when asked about playing Baron Helmut Zemo (the “Helmut” is significant – more on this later):
“I think I can tell you that without being thrown into Marvel prison… For the first few days I’ll walk around like a little boy, just amazed by the megalomania of it. It’s such a huge project. We could do 20 films with the budget.”
It’s an unsurprising confirmation even if for some reason Marvel is attempting to keep the reveal secret. About two months after Bruhl was announced to have a role by Marvel, casting calls for the Atlanta production listed Zemo’s name. The “Marvel prison” reference is a funny one though since a month prior, in a separate interview, Bruhl said something similar when sharing his excitement for joining Captain America: Civil War:
“I am not supposed to say anything. I cannot even talk about the part, really, because I would be too afraid to give something away and then I’ll end up in the Marvel prison and I do not want that.”
Usually, actors with Marvel contracts (looking at you, Don Cheadle and Paul Bettany) joke of being taken out by Marvel snipers. From our previous discussions on Zemo:
Baron Zemo is a creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby whose history dates back to WWII where he fought with The Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger) against Captain America. Zemo was also a Nazi scientist and weapon maker, visually distinctive thanks to a unique hood that got stuck to his face during a confrontation with Cap. Given the timelines of the movies and when audiences will meet Zemo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s more likely that Zemo’s son, Baron Helmut Zemo, will be adapted instead with his father potentially used as connective thread to Cap’s past. It’s a potentially smart way to tie back to the character’s origins, the Red Skull and Hydra, which are all being explored still in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC.
With Marvel continuing to embrace the past in its projects (see: Agent Carter and flashbacks in the upcoming Ant-Man), bringing in major Marvel Comics players such as the Zemo family – one of our own top villains we wanted to see in Captain America 3 – is a smart way to connect present days events of the upcoming Civil War to Captain America’s origins in the past. In the comics, Helmut Zemo begins his journey of villainy when he discovers Captain America is still alive in the present day so there’s room to weave the character’s heritage into the events of prior films.
He’s of course not the only villain of the film since on top of heroes battling heroes, Frank Grillo will be back as Crossbones.
With Avengers: Age of Ultron finally opening domestically this week, we can expect news to immediately begin rolling in around the start of production on Captain America: Civil War – the film where fans will also be introduced to the new Spider-Man. So far, the cast of Civil War includes many familiar Avengers but we’ll save that conversation until after May 1st.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.