How Helmut Zemo Got His Barony Back

I once wrote a listicle of worst dressed movie supervillains that concluded throwing a trenchcoat over a weak design doesn’t help. When Helmut Zemo finally got a costume in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier along with his barony, it was basically a trenchcoat over a weak design. I must be the biggest hypocrite of all since his was the only action figure I purchased out of the first Disney+ Marvel Legends wave. I’m just a sucker for a superb Daniel Brühl likeness.

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“If you think I’m pretty,…”

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“You should see me in a crown! Your silence is my favorite sound!”

Aside from that, I bought it because I don’t know if they’ll ever be another MCU Baron Zemo action figure with a better costume. It’s likely Zemo will return as the leader of the Thunderbolts, but it’s unclear when they’ll finally get around to assembling. Since the public didn’t see him wear it in Madripoor, it’s possible he could resume wearing his bespoke ski mask as a “superhero.” On the other hand, they could outfit him as Citizen V. If I don’t think his next outfit is a significant improvement, aftermarket prices of his first figure will surely skyrocket by that point. Or he may get an excellent makeover only for the entire action figure market to have collapsed by then. So I bought a lackluster figure to customize out of paranoia.

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“I am Helmut of Sokovia, & I am burdened with glorious purpose!” 

Movie Baron Zemo is considered flamboyant for daring to wear a maroon shirt, which underlines how homogeneous & unmemorable most of the MCU’s looks are. I had to spruce up closet cosplay Zemo by giving him more purple & gold. I considered making his coat & slacks purple, but I didn’t want him to look too much like Joker. Also I’m lazy. Too much gilding could tip him into tacky. He should be ostentatious yet elegant. Many is the time I’ve customized a toy to make it more screen accurate. This is not one of them. (Unlike last week’s Beeboverse review, it’s also not an instance of punctuality.)

BaronZemo

“Be vewy quiet. I’m hunting super soldiers.”

Aside from some shading, my first order of customization was to replace all the silver with gold. He nearly got Hannibal Chau shoes, but received deep purple ones with gold buckles instead. (It’s more distinct in person.) Does the trapezoid-ish design on the Baron’s belt buckle mean anything? Comics Zemo has golden gloves with longitudinal lines, but I liked the movie version’s purple & black gloves enough to leave them alone. His sleeves have three lateral bands at the end, so I made them gold instead. Since I wasn’t going to add fur to his boots, I sculpted more onto his lower lapels. Black was added to simulate ermine. As a Sokovian military officer & aristocrat, he can have fancy trim on his greatcoat. It’s a good thing the coat covers so much of his legs because he’s pigeon-toed if you line up the seams.

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“Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing Adhesive-X!”

Zemo’s masked head is slightly smaller than the unmasked head. This is a weird trend I’ve seen on assorted toys lately. Having both heads makes the pinheadedness of the one I’ll be using most often more prominent. I had to make the Baron his coronet so he wouldn’t be mistaken for The Rose any longer. Not even the unused Civil War concept art had it. Zemo without his crown is an incomplete as Steve Rogers without scale mail! The band was cut from a thin plastic tie from one of NECA’s TMNT sets. Getting it to stay glued on was a pain since I didn’t have any Adhesive-X. (When Paste Pot Pete rebranded himself as The Trapster, he stole the baronial colors to cement his glue rivalry with Baron Heinrich Zemo.) The flanges are cardboard.

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“You can’t stop me! I’ve mastered evil!”

Zemo’s coronet in the comics contains anti-psychic circuitry to prevent assorted telepaths from reading his thoughts or controlling him. MCU-wise it’d only be useful against Mantis, Sylvie, Agatha Harkness, & Scarlet Witch, the Avenger most responsible for his homeland’s destruction besides Tony Stark. Judging from the fur he wears, perhaps its side panels double as earmuffs if he’s preternaturally chilly. In the movies these could be headphones so he can get down to sick beats on the go. Nobody has combined Zemo dancing with “Do Ya Wanna Taste It?” yet?

Much like Netflix Elektra, Zemo should’ve had a different neck to go with each head. The one neck Zemo has is a compromise that doesn’t work with either. It’s exposed above the collar to work with the unmasked head but molded in purple. This color would work for the masked head except it’s missing the ribbed fabric texture. I made a better concession by extending the collar of his inner shirt over his bare neck into a higher turtleneck with glued on napkin. This helps make the masked head look less like it’s hovering. It’s not supposed to match his mask’s shade. Now he’s wearing a tactleneck.

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“Check out my Hamilton playbill signed by the original cast!”

Zemo’s collar runs into his diagonal shirt closure to his belt. Since I was already painting his belt gold, I did the same for that to make his maroon shirt less mundane. Now it forms a Z. It’s subtle enough not to be tacky, but now I can’t unsee it. Of course you can’t see it with the coat on. It’s too bad he didn’t come with an alternate pair of jacketless arms. I also bleached the pages within Bucky’s burn book.

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“Once you buy my new book, you too will learn the secrets of manipulating superheroes!”

Now that Loki sold out to beige bureaucracy, Helmut is the MCU’s fanciest lad! Zemo destroyed the Avengers by reading a book. Then Thanos ruined Baron Zemo’s goal of a an Avengers-free world by reuniting them against his threat. Thanos is THE WORST. (Thanos couldn’t snap his fingers whilst wearing an Infinity Gauntlet. The No-Prize is that collecting all six magic rocks allows the bearer to circumvent conventional physics laws.) Helmut was so engaging they had to stop him from committing suicide twice.

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Suitkovia is haute coture because this coat has more straps than necessary.

The hinges in Zemo’s shoulders are disappointingly tight. His expressive hands would have a good range of motion if they weren’t blocked by the cuffs. The bigger problem is that Helmut is a lefty but only his right hand can hold his golden gun. His gripping & pointing hands should’ve been reversed. Instead of his Czech CZ P-10 C, Zemo comes with a show inaccurate Sci-Fi pistol. At least he came with a firearm, unlike recent DC toys.

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“You betrayed Sokovia! DIE!” “How did you miss me at point blank range? I didn’t even need to use my hex bolts!”

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“Since when did we start having casual Fridays like riffraff?”

Not making MCU Helmut Zemo a HYDRA or Neo-Nazi was a wise move. Helmut being a second generation Nazi was one of the problematic aspects of him leading The Masters Of Evil. Wouldn’t at least some of its diverse assortment of supervillains refuse to work with him on those grounds or vice versa? Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza had him explicitly renounce his father’s racist ethos in Thunderbolts. Helmut realized with the great power of being born into aristocracy came the great responsibility of saving the world of commoners. He tried to do good with bad means (which weren’t too off from what Iron Man & Batman were doing at the time). He even began dating his Jewish teammate, Songbird. Once the title that made him a well-rounded character ended, subsequent writers reverted him to a one-note Nazi. Weren’t Red Skull, Baron Strucker, Fenris, Viper, & Hate-Monger sufficient? While making Nazis sympathetic is dangerous, surely there were more compelling ways to use him as an antagonist. Anyway the MCU dodged this whole thorny issue, although assassinating Wakanda’s King still superficially resembles a hate crime.

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“I can’t be racist; I like Marvin Gaye.”

Although TFATWS was the weakest of the first batch of D+ MCU, Daniel Brühl elevated every scene he was in. Brühl is akin to a Kinder Bueno in that he’s equally German & Spanish, although Hollywood typecasts him as Germanic villains. (I can’t wait for all the high school history essays written based on The King’s Man.) Movie Zemo isn’t German like in the source material, so Sokovian is a change of pace. The fictional Slavic state uses the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. (Its location changes between movies, though it’s always bordered by real nations that use the Latin alphabet. Was it ever part of The Austro-Hungarian Empire?)

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“Jinkies! The Baron was Helmut Zemo all along!” “And I would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”

~

Steve Rogers has different standards for kids.

Monkey Captain America custom inspired by the only scene where Steve draws.

Bucky’s grindr ought to be MCU canon.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier ripped off My Little Pony: Rescue From Midnight Castle!

Since the MCU is so low on surviving supervillains, will its eventual Thunderbolts just introduce most of its full roster as foes who existed just off camera? Are they going to be introduced gradually or all at once like Suicide Squad? If Beetle is introduced in Armor Wars, I hope they do their helmet(s) justice.

Who’s been kicking everyone in the face? It’s been Batroc all along! He shilled for Crazy! If Batroc the Leaper was truly a master of savate, his gloves would be silver. What if they bring back Georges St. Pierre with a new accent as Tarantula?

Captain Carter is destroying femininity! Unlike the majority of Jamie McKelvie‘s art, I do not care for this Captain Carter redesign. Just making a thin sliver of her suit the flag messes up what was already a great costume. The asymmetry doesn’t work here like the Alpha Flight uniforms. (McKelvie has apparently blocked me on The Twitter for politely expressing this.) They didn’t even use the perfect tagline!

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