Colonel Helmut Zemo was a former Sokovian soldier and commander of the EKO Scorpion, a Sokovian death squad. Zemo maintained a healthy relationship with his family. To keep them safe, he moved his wife and son to the countryside to live with his father. However, everything changed when Ultron, an inadvertent creation of Tony Stark, battled the Avengers in the small country. Zemo's family were killed when their house collapsed during the battle. He angrily blamed the Avengers for their deaths, and vowed to destroy the team to avenge his family.
Determining that attempting to overpower the Avengers would be a futile effort, Zemo orchestrated a series of events designed to have them turn on each other and tear apart the team from within. He searched through and deciphered the Hydra files Black Widow leaked following the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., taking particular interest in the Winter Soldier program. He discovered that the Winter Soldier was responsible for the deaths of Tony Stark's parents Howard and Maria Stark and the Winter Soldier was actually Bucky Barnes, Captain America's long-lost best friend.
Zemo launched his plan by stealing the Winter Soldier's activation code from Vasily Karpov, the Winter Soldier's handler during the Cold War. He then bombed a meeting of the United Nations in Vienna to sign the Sokovia Accords. Zemo wore a facial prosthetic resembling Bucky's face to implicate the Winter Soldier was behind the bombing. Captain America stood by his friend's innocence as Zemo planned. The split over Bucky's innocence only exacerbated growing tensions within the Avengers over the Sokovia Accords, with Captain America and the Falcon strongly opposed to the idea and Tony Stark, Black Widow, War Machine and Vision agreeing to the terms. Captain America and Falcon were arrested with Bucky while trying prevent his capture. Also drawn into the fight was T'Challa, the prince of Wakanda whose father was killed in Vienna and donned the mantle of the Black Panther to avenge him.
Bucky was taken to a Joint Counter Terrorist Centre facility in Berlin. Zemo posed as Dr. Theo Broussard, the psychologist who assigned to evaluate Bucky, but after detonating an EMP to take out the city power grid, Zemo recited the Winter Soldier's activation code, setting free the Winter Soldier and ordering him to escape the facility. Bucky fought the Avengers and their allies in his escape; however, they all believed Bucky simply took advantage of the EMP to escape. Captain America and Falcon eventually captured Bucky, but did not turn him over to the authorities. Bucky explained that Zemo was heading to Siberia to reactivate the other Winter Soldiers who Hydra put on ice because they are uncontrollable.
Zemo escaped to Siberia as Captain America assembled a team of superheroes to stop him. However, Tony Stark had also assembled a team of his own to apprehend Bucky and Captain America. The two teams of superheroes battled at an airport in Leipzig, resulting in the arrest of Captain America's team - including two Avengers, Falcon and Scarlet Witch - except for the captain and Bucky, and in War Machine's receiving serious wounds that left him paralyzed. Zemo exposed the body of Dr. Theo Broussard in his hotel room for Tony Stark to uncover his plot and head towards Siberia. Stark himself was followed by T'Challa, who was still seeking his vengeance on the Winter Soldier.
Zemo arrived at the Hydra facility in Siberia hours before any of the Avengers. He first killed the Winter Soldier test subjects in cryostasis and then waited for his pursuers. Captain America, Bucky, and Iron Man, all working together, believed they had Zemo cornered, but he showed Tony Stark security camera footage of his parents' death at the Winter Soldier's hands. A distraught Iron Man turned on his allies when Captain America revealed he knew about this and kept it from him. As the three heroes fought each other, Zemo left the facility and sat at the edge of the cliff surrounding the base. He deleted a voicemail message from his wife on his phone - the very message he listened to to remind him of why he wanted to destroy the Avengers - and was approached from behind by T'Challa. Zemo apologized to the Wakandan prince for inadvertently killing his father. T'Challa took pity on Zemo, reconsidered his own objectives of revenge in the light of Zemo's efforts, and prevented him from taking his own life.
Zemo was taken back to Berlin, where he was imprisoned in the same high security cell the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre held Bucky. The JCTC agent Everett K. Ross delighted in informing his prisoner all the privileges and protocols designed to keep him inside the cell. When Ross asked him how he felt after spending so much time and effort on his plan only for it "failed so spectacularly", Zemo calmly answered, "Did it?"
Master Strategist: Helmut Zemo is a strategist clever enough to orchestrate a series of events designed to fragment the world's premiere superhero team, the Avengers, all while keeping himself undetected by some of the world's biggest intelligence gathering agencies. He is not above personally committing murder, nor does he have any qualms about causing mass civilian casualties if such things suit his plans.
- Ann Russo, the wife of Anthony Russo who co-directed Captain America: Civil War, gave the voice of Zemo's wife in the audio message he listens to.
- Aside from retaining his name, this Zemo does not have any similarities with the Helmut Zemo of the comics and other continuities (who are usually portrayed as a costumed villain known as Baron Zemo, wealthy German nobles, the son of one of Captain America's greatest foes: Baron Heinrich Zemo, and wearing a mask to conceal their hideously disfigured faces.) .
- 4 Appearances of Helmut Zemo (Earth-199999)
- 1 Minor Appearances of Helmut Zemo (Earth-199999)
- Media Helmut Zemo (Earth-199999) was Mentioned in
- 1 Images featuring Helmut Zemo (Earth-199999)
- 1 Quotations by or about Helmut Zemo (Earth-199999)
- Character Gallery: Helmut Zemo (Earth-199999)
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