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Baron Zemo

Falcon and the Winter Soldier
by yo go re

Do you like conspiracy theories? Because we've got a fun one for you today: Chadwick Boseman was supposed to appear in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Series spoilers ahoy!

Baron Zemo, the Sokovian special forces officer who targeted the Avengers, has been rotting in a German prison, but recent events will reignite him with a ferocity.

Now remember, this is just speculation: we don't have any inside info you don't have. But we know the series was shot in two chunks, before and after quarantine. And we know changes had to be made to the story to accommodate that. What's something major that happened during the shutdown? Boseman's death from colon cancer. In the show, Zemo escapes from prison, and the Dora Milaje are dispatched to recapture him; he evades them, but then they find him again and take him to be imprisoned at The Raft. It's that second one that feels iffy: if they'd already lost him once, why would they be trusted to get him this time? And why would they take him to The Raft instead of back to Wakanda to answer for his crimes? It makes more sense, however, if T'Challa himself shows up at the Sokovian Memorial, makes some big speech about how vengeance is not justice, and opts right there to send Zemo to an outside prison where he can sit and wait for MCU's Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers movie to happen. But Boseman wasn't able to film his scenes before the pandemic and sure wasn't able to film them after, so the story had to be changed.

Zemo was played in Civil War by Daniel Bruhl, and he hasn't been recast for Bucky and the Bird. The likeness is pretty good, though only so-so for something that's been "Photo Real"-printed. It's absolutely recognizable as him, even with no strong expression. It's got the hair, the vaguely curious and calculating mien... it's the villain we know.

But making him more into the villain we know is the alternate head. Civil War concept art would have seen The Zeemster (as we assume he likes to be called) wearing a mask to keep himself warm in Siberia, which would have made him vaguely comic-accurate, but that didn't make the final costume. The Disney+ series finally masks him up, and it looks even more like the comic than the old one would have! It's a tight purple ski mask with two eyeholes, and it's available here as an alternate head, molded in two parts so the eyes look like they're below the cloth. Proving that fan theories are invariably the dumbest things imaginable, some people believed MCU Zemo chose the mask as a reference to Thanos.

[*groan of disappointment* Idiots. --ed.]

Zemo's suit does that thing where it's civilian wear, but deftly homages the comic look - or at least the feeling of the comic look. Comicbook Zemo doesn't wear suit pants, a normal shirt, and an overcoat, but movie Zemo was never going to wear buccaneer boots and a tiara. So they made the shirt purple (the same shade as his mask on this toy, though they were different on the show) and put a fur collar on the jacket, because fur is a Zemo family tradition. Technically the collar should have black spots on it, but here it's just white.

The articulation is enough to make Zemo dance, of course: he moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, neck, and head. The neck is one of those barbell joints Hasbro is so enamored of lately, rather than the old "balljoint on a hinge" deals we used to get. The chest joint doesn't do too much, since the coat is so stiff - don't expect him to ever be sitting down, or even bending over naturally. Although, if he's from Sokovia... shouldn't he be able to Slav-squat?

The figure includes two alternate hands: fists, to replace the pointing left hand and trigger finger right hand. He gets a gun, but it's an unrealistic design instead of anything he actually used in the show. The gold color is nice, and looks great against his grey jacket and purple gloves, but the style could be better. He's also got the red book he used to control Bucky, which is a cool thing to include!

He's also got a Build-A-Figure piece: Falcon's left wingtip.

Baron Zemo was already a great villain in Civil War, and Falcon and Winter Soldier just made him better. He's smart, he's adaptable, he's honorable... he's definitely someone who'd be capable of leading a team in the MCU when the time comes. And the fact that his toy comes with accessories makes it one of the better ones in this Disney+ Legends series.

-- 07/19/21


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