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 the MCU through the Disney+ series. In his latest outing, he teamed up with Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes to track down the new supply of the super soldier serum used by the Flag-Smashers.
Despite what he did to split up the Avengers in Civil War, Zemo has a vast knowledge of HYDRA and the Super Soldier Program, the show's heroes had no choice but to break him out of jail for his help. While Sam and Bucky were extra careful about him not carrying his side of the deal, Zemo ultimately led them to Madripoor where they learned about Dr. Nagel — the scientist who was able to successfully recreate the super soldier serum. During this time on the island, the character finally donned his comic-accurate purple mask — something that was teased during the official announcement video about his return in SDCC 2019.
Ever since it was confirmed that Zemo would don the headpiece in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, rumors have started about the significance behind it in the MCU. Some theories posit that it's a tribute to Thanos considering its color scheme, but the show's head writer debunks that, explaining to Unilad that, "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 revealed more pertinent information about Zemo, including the fact that he's an aristocrat, meaning he has money. Before that, he was only known as a Sokovian intelligence officer and a commander of an elite paramilitary tactical unit known as EKO Scorpion, whose family died during the Battle of Sokovia. Given both the money and skills, his successful mission to destroy the Avengers in Civil War makes more sense now. However, there are still so many questions left regarding the character's history. Marvel Studios has yet to really reveal his personal story, evidenced by the unclear significance behind the mask resulting in theories regarding where it actually came from.
Even with Spellman's aforementioned comment, it's not nearly enough of an explanation for why Zemo is wearing the mask. If anything, it amplifies the interest of the public about his life before debuting in Civil War. At the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he ended up being imprisoned in the raft with the promise that he'll eventually return again in the MCU. Perhaps the next time he factors in any upcoming Marvel Studios project, more information about the origins of the mask and himself overall will be revealed.
Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes successfully contained the threat posed by the Flag-Smashers in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier without any help from other Avengers, so where were their allies during this whole crisis? Unlike WandaVision, which had a contained narrative that was primarily set in the Westview hex, its follow up Marvel Studios series featured a global adventure for its heroes that led them to Madripoor in Asia, various locations in Europe including Latvia, as well as the United States. Its story culminated in New York during the GRC summit that Karli Morgenthau and her group attempted to hijack.
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