The Helmut Zemo we met in Captain America: Civil War was a grounded, complex villain, a big change from the guy wearing a purple balaclava in Marvel’s comic books. He seemed like a one-shot villain, and even actor Daniel Bruhl thought as much–until Marvel invited him back for Falcon and the Winter Soldier. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bruhl talks about returning to the character and what to take away from his storyline.
Zemo feels different in Falcon and the Winter Soldier; he took his revenge, got caught, and has been in prison since. He has a common mission with Bucky and Sam, though, and it gives us a different look at the character. He makes jokes. He dances. Can we trust him?
“No, never,” Bruhl said. “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.”
“I guess it has become apparent that he is not an evil supervillain,” Bruhl continued. “There’s more to him. In conversations between [Zemo, Bucky, and Sam], 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 revealed in the interview that both his dance moment and him messing with Bucky’s cleft chin were improvised, and that actor Sebastian Stan “couldn’t deal with it.” Bruhl described the atmosphere on Marvel sets as one of “looseness, fearlessness, and joy,” which “allowed you to try things and not be restrained” on set, despite the high pressure of a giant, interconnected universe.
While you’re waiting for Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4 to drop this week, you can read about how its debut was the most-watched show yet on Disney+, which bodes well for the future of Marvel Studios television shows. Make sure to read our interview with head writer Malcolm Spellman about the new Captain America, who we trust even less than literal terrorist and murderer Baron Zemo. Or if you’re already looking ahead to the June debut of Loki, you can watch Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson poke fun at Sam and Bucky.