The Falcon and The Winter Soldier centers around Sam and Bucky. But as the series progressed, the horizon widened. It started focusing on the Super Soldier serum, Flag-Smashers, Wakandans, Power-Broker, and our favorite, Baron Zemo. First appearing in Captain America: Civil War, Zemo single-handedly managed to turn the Avengers against each other. He was the one behind the death of King T’Chaka. He also managed to frame Bucky for this event. But in episode 5 of the series, “Truth,” we see Zemo officially in Wakandan custody.
Why is Zemo in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier? It’s because Bucky controversially broke him out of jail. His wealth and resources prove invaluable chasing down the source of the new super-soldier serum. He has redeemed himself in the eyes of the fans, but not in the eyes of the superheroes. He is still ultimately guilty for what he did in Civil War. That’s why the Wakandans are back in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier – to take Zemo along with them.
Sam Wilson promised that Zemo will be going straight back to his cell when the mission would be over. A team of Dora Milaje led by Ayo was sent to capture him. In the previous episode, we saw him sneaking away amidst the chaos. But his little time of freedom was only so long. In “Truth,” Bucky honors his promise, opting to neither free, nor kill Baron, and leading the Dora Milaje directly to him. The character development for both, Bucky and Zemo, is impeccable. Considering how Zemo framed Bucky in Civil War, and how both of them decided to keep their differences aside, it only shows that both of them will meet once again in the future of the MCU.
Where is Zemo now? Ayo tells Bucky that he will live the rest of his days in jail. His return to jail could lead to the beginning of a new villain. As per Marvel’s extensive comic book lore, the Raft is a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison designed specifically for those with superpowers, or other troublesome abilities that your everyday prison simply couldn’t handle. Situated off the coast of New York, the Raft is similar to nearby Rikers Island – entirely surrounded by water to make escape much trickier. Famous former residents include Doctor Doom, Carnage, Loki, and Green Goblin, and more often than not, heroes and good guys cooperate directly with the Raft to get baddies off the street without resorting to lethal force.
We first saw The Raft make its debut in Captain America: Civil War. But clearly, it was constructed long beforehand. Like its comic book counterpart, the MCU’s Raft sits in the Atlantic Ocean. Taking a cue from the comics, the MCU’s Raft is a prison built especially for the world’s most dangerous criminals, with solitary confinement possible for up to 23 hours per day. The Raft has been referenced in Marvel’s Netflix shows too. Jessica Jones’ super-powered mother, Alisa, almost found herself locked in the Raft, but narrowly avoided such a severe sentence.
When Bucky freed Zemo from prison, it was an ordinary-looking cell in Germany. This was because he doesn’t have any special abilities. He tricked the Avengers with his intellect, and literally nothing else. But it is confirmed that Zemo isn’t returning to his German cell. Ayo promises a lifelong stint in the Raft awaits. This very fact could lead the Zemo’s Thunderbolts.
Marvel comics tell us that Baron Zemo establishes the Thunderbolts. It is a new team of supervillains masquerading as reformed heroes. They have remained a key superhero stable of the Marvel comics, blending recognized heroes with villains trying to make amends. Thunderbolts is somewhat similar to DC’s Suicide Squad. Basically, the government would be reducing their sentences in exchange for their services.
Now that Zemo will be at The Raft, all the necessary pieces for the puzzle to complete are together. Clearly, he will be in link with Thaddeus Ross and a few powerful villains as well. He can finally connect to people with some useful abilities and the same mindset. He can finally create his super-averse hero team. The Thunderbolts will have their comic book base of operations after Zemo’s relocation. Exactly what is needed for its very creation.
The series has anyway started to lay out the foundation for the Thunderbolts. Zemo is revealed to be filthy rich. Plus he is not as villainous as before. He is seen dancing, and it seems like Bucky and Zemo have somehow managed to make peace with each other. The series has proved that the U.S. government is interested in state-approved superheroes, especially after the failed experiment with John Walker. Now, it is clear that the government wants a team of superheroes that can be totally denied of.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is currently streaming on Disney+. Here’s the official synopsis:
Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience—in Marvel Studios’ “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.”
Directed by Kari Skogland, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, Daniel Brühl as Baron Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Wyatt Russell as John Walker, Desmond Chiam, Miki Ishikawa, Noah Mills, and Carl Lumbly.