The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: What’s hidden in plain sight in episode 3

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Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The latest of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s clues all pertain towards the villainous Zemo, and a certain island paradise founded by pirates.

For a series about heroes, the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier spent a lot of its time cavorting with villains. Or rather a villain in particular. From the moment Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) decides to spring Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) from a maximum security prison, the mastermind behind Captain America: Civil War (2016) steals the show. Thus in their quest to find more intel on the Power Broker and the Super Soldier Serum, Zemo essentially becomes Bucky and Sam Wilson’s (Anthony Mackie) tour guide into the seedy underbelly of the MCU.

What that means for us, of course, is that we get treated to some obscure and unusual comic book-related Easter Eggs. But are they relevant to the Disney+ series, or just cute references to throw towards an eager audience? As before, we’ll have a SPOILER-filled exploration into the major bells and whistles seen in this episode, entitled “Power Broker,” and compare them with how they appeared in the comics.

Baron Zemo

If you’ve already watched Captain America: Civil War (2016), then you already know the MCU made significant changes to Zemo from the comics. “Power Broker,” however, did a pretty effective job with introducing some of Zemo’s characteristics from the comics into the MCU version. Aside from being established as a baron whose family goes back several generations, he finally dons his signature purple mask.

Nevertheless, there’s still a few things left out about this version of Zemo. Like the fact that his father, the previous Baron Zemo, was a German scientist and a Nazi war criminal.

During World War II, Baron Heinrich Zemo invented various weapons for the Third Reich, including a disintegration ray gun, attack robots, and a super super glue called “Adhesive X.” It was this Adhesive X that Heinrich was in the process of making when Steve Rogers stormed his lab. Steve threw his trusty shield at the vat to destroy, and it so happened that Heinrich was right next to it when the Adhesive X spilled onto him. As a result, his purple mask bonded permanently to his face. This drove him even crazier than before, abandoning his wife and son.

After Steve thawed out from the ice, he learned Heinrich was still alive and hiding in South America. After Cap tracked him down, Heinrich tried to kill him but ended up being killed by an avalanche instead. This prompted the now-adult Helmut Zemo to seek revenge as he used his father’s invention to become the Phoenix (no relation whatsoever to the X-Men, Jean Grey, by the way). Only he ended up falling into a vat of boiling Adhesive X himself, which horribly scarred his body and face. Only then did he adopt the same costume that his father once wore.06

So yes, the MCU Baron Zemo having his family killed during Ultron’s attack on Sokovia, while also not being a literal fascist, make him a little more sympathetic as a villain. Though given how he called the Red Skull a madman, and shares Sam Wilson’s love of Marvyn Gaye’s “Trouble Man,” it’s definitely an odd contrast between his comic book counterpart.

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