The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s head writer and showrunner, Malcolm Spellman recently explained the origins of Zemo’s purple mask. The Captain America: Civil War villain returns to MCU through the Disney+ series. In the series, he teamed up with Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes for tracking down the new supply of the super-soldier serum used by the Flag-Smashers.
He did everything he could to split up the Avengers in Civil War. Still, Zemo has a lot of knowledge about HYDRA and the Super Soldier program. This is why the two leads had no other choice except to break Zemo out of jail for help. Well, it was Bucky who actually did it and Sam just rolled with it by trusting his coworker. They were more careful about Zemo not carrying his side of the deal. After Bucky breaks Zemo out of prison, Zemo at first goes to his family’s storage garage and takes his mask, which comes into use later.
Zemo, Bucky, and Sam then travel to Madripoor where they get to know about Dr. Nagel. Dr. Nagel was the scientist who successfully recreated the super-soldier serum. They search for a criminal named Selby for more information. When the three of them are attacked by bounty hunters, Zemo puts on his mask in a dramatic scene and retaliates.
The mask was teased during the official announcement video about Zemo’s return, back in SDCC 2019. It was confirmed a long time ago that Zemo would don the headpiece in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Since that time, rumors started about its significance in MCU. A few theories say that the mask is a tribute to Thanos. People thought that Zemo might be a believer in Thanos’ cause, so he could have started to wear the mask because of that. But thankfully for us, that isn’t the case.
The show’s head writer Malcolm Spellman explained that the mask has something to do with Zemo’s history as a commander of EKO Scorpion, and being a former Colonel with the Sokovian Armed Forces. It isn’t related to Thanos in any way! Spellman said:
“It’s his history from when he was in the military, and who knows what else, but no it’s nothing to do with Thanos.”
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier unveiled more important information about Zemo. This includes the fact that he is an aristocrat and this means that he has money. Before that, he was known as a Sokovian intelligence officer and a commander of an elite paramilitary tactical unit called the EKO Scorpion. His family died during the Battle of Sokovia. Considering his money and skills, his mission of destroying the Avengers in Civil War now makes sense.
In the comics, the title of Baron Zemo is passed down through generations of German nobility. Helmut Zemo’s father, Heinrich Zemo, was a Nazi scientist during the Second World War and worked with HYDRA. He used to wear a purple mask for hiding his identity. But when he was doused with the chemical Adhesive X, the mask became permanently attached to his face.
After a battle with Captain America, Heinrich Zemo was buried on a rockslide. He left his son to take on the mantle and avenge his death. Ironically, Zemo fell down into a vat of Adhesive X while trying to drop Captain America into it and became disfigured himself. This forced him to depend on the mask for hiding his disfigurement.
But there are a lot of questions left to answer about Zemo’s history. Marvel Studios is yet to unveil his personal story, evidenced by the unclear significance behind the mask resulting in theories about where it actually came from. Even after Spellman’s comment, it is not enough of an explanation about why Zemo is wearing the mask. This just amplifies the interest of the public about his life before his debut in Civil War.
Towards the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he was imprisoned in The Raft with a promise that he will eventually return to the MCU at some point in time. The Mask was obviously a setup for how we’re going to see him in future MCU projects. He will probably return in the rumored Thunderbolts project, and that’s where more information about the origins of his mask could be unveiled.
Directed by Kari Skogland, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered on March 19, 2021, on Disney+. It features Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Wyatt Russell, Erin Kellyman, Danny Ramirez, Georges St-Pierre, Adepero Oduye, Emily VanCamp, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the lead roles. The events of the series take place after the film Avengers: Endgame (2019).