- Complete Monster:
- Captain America: Baron Heinrich Zemo was a Nazi Nobleman who joined the Nazi party after Germany lost World War I. During World War II, Heinrich committed several war crimes, such as strangling a Polish Freedom Fighter named Citizen V to death, and testing a Death Ray on a concentration camp inmate. He also captured and flayed the original Human Torch, recreating the Torch's power to help the Nazis win the war and used the Torch's powers to incinerate one of his own Nazi minions, just for kicks. Zemo also built a death ray, and when Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos tried to capture it, Zemo rigged it to explode, destroying a nearby German town. Zemo was once a loving father and husband, but a fight with Captain America left him disfigured and consumed with hatred for Captain America, and started beating his son and wife. Zemo even tried to shoot through his son Helmut to kill Captain America at one point, and was willing to kill his wife when she opposed him. Near the end of the war, Zemo tried to steal an experimental plane in England and rigged it to explode, seemingly killing Bucky Barnes and trapping Cap in suspended animation. After the war, Zemo fled to South America, hired a band of mercs and enslaved a remote South American native tribe. One day when the tribe rebelled, Zemo violently put down the rebellion and had all the ringleaders of the rebellion killed. When Captain America returned in modern times, Zemo enacted several revenge schemes, including creating Wonder Man in order to infiltrate the Avengers and stating that his powers will destroy him if Zemo doesn't give him an injection every week. He also kidnapped Cap's young friend Rick Jones and stuck him in a trap designed so that Captain America would kill him if he tried to free him.
- Old Man Logan (Old Man Hawkeye miniseries): Baron Helmut Zemo is presented as a far crueler villain than his 616 counterpart. Zemo was enraged that Hawkeye took away the Thunderbolts from him, so in the lead up to the supervillain take over, Zemo strong-arms the Thunderbolts into betraying the Avengers. When the Avengers are ambushed by supervillains, the Thunderbolts turn against the Avengers and help the villains kill them. Zemo personally kills Black Widow in front of Hawkeye and only spares him because he thinks Hawkeye is worthless. In the future, Zemo is running a Super Soldier program at the Weapon X facility for Red Skull, experimenting on people. His test subjects often become deformed and beg for death after Zemo is done with them. Eventually, Zemo succeeds and creates a new Captain Hydra, Zemo has him test out his abilities by having him kill several of Zemo's guards. Zemo also plans to kill all the scientists at the Weapon X facility, so no one can recreate his research.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: Baron Heinrich Zemo took over as leader of HYDRA when Red Skull disappeared after World War II. During the war, Zemo attempted to unleash a deadly virus on the Allied forces, but was disfigured by his own virus in a skirmish against Captain America. In the present day, Zemo teamed up with Arnim Zola to get revenge on Captain America, who had just awoken from the ice. After failing to get revenge, Zemo forms the Masters of Evil, and then breaks into the Avengers' mansion and captures each of them one by one, promising to Captain America that he will execute his teammates while forcing him to watch. Later on, Zemo uses the Norn Stones to mount an invasion force on Earth, betraying Enchantress in process, so he could rule alone. When the Enchantress began hunting down the Masters of Evil for their betrayal, Zemo callously abandons his teammates to their doom while going to the Avengers for protection. Confronting the Enchantress, Zemo attempts to use the last Norn Stone to save his own skin, even at the risk of destroying the universe.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Baron Helmut Zemo isn't the most prominent or dangerous villain in the entirety of Marvel (what with him being a Badass Normal in a world of superpowers), but his charm, cool appearance, sympathetic backstory and ability to play Xanatos Speed Chess often have fans happy to see him. Case in point: the crowd at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 reportedly went wild when it was confirmed that his Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart would become Baron Zemo, complete with his actor Daniel Brühl putting on the iconic purple mask.
- Jerkass Woobie: Helmut. His father was an abuser on top of being a literal Nazi, and he still worshiped him through all the hard times, leading to him going supervillain and his own horrible scarring. He had to learn the hard way that his father, and his lineage, consist of horrible, horrible men. All of this made his view of humankind as being rather low, but he still continues onward.
- Magnificent Bastard:
- Marvel Comics: Baron Helmut Zemo, heir to the deplorable Heinrich Zemo, eventually rejects his father's fascist ideology. One of captain America's greatest enemies, Zemo led a near perfect defeat of The Avengers in the Under Siege arc, ending by engaging Captain America himself and coming close to victory. Constantly returning with daring new schemes, Zemo even kidnapped abused and neglected children to give them a loving home with himself and his wife, and later formed the Thunderbolts as heroes specifically to give them cover for more villainous activities. Eventually deciding to save the world by conquering it, Zemo returns time and time again, sometimes as a deadly enemy and other times ready to defeat more evil villains than he himself, proclaiming he could never harm a world he works so hard to save.
- Captain America: Civil War: Helmut Zemo proves his stripes as one of the greatest manipulators of the franchise. Overcome with grief over losing his family during the Avengers battle with Ultron, Zemo decides to enact vengeance against them. Knowing he is no match for them in strength, Zemo instead devises an intricate plan to break them up. Launching an attack on a UN conference, Zemo frames Bucky Barnes for the attack which starts a manhunt against him. After Bucky is captured, Zemo impersonates a UN interrogator to activate Bucky's Trigger Phrase which will put him under his control to give him information on the death of Tony Stark's parents. Finally, Zemo leaks this ruse to the media, counting on Tony Stark following Cap and Bucky to the Hydra compound in Siberia so he can accomplish his real plan: show Tony evidence that Bucky killed his parents, causing him to fly into a murderous rage and attack Bucky and Captain America, devastatingly fracturing the Avengers. By the end, in spite of being captured by T'Challa, Zemo still accomplishes what he wanted and gracefully accepts his capture and even offers to let T'Challa kill him to avenge the death of his father. Zemo stands out in a world full of super-powered beings, aliens, sorcerers and cosmic entities with only his intelligence and able to cement himself as one of the work's most successful villains.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: Baron Heinrich Zemo is the leader of the Masters of Evil and has harbored a grudge against Captain America ever since he foiled his plans in World War II. Zemo relinquished control of HYDRA upon hearing of his return in the 21st century and vowed revenge against Captain America. Zemo infiltrated Avengers Mansion to steal a sample of his blood to help cure his exposure to Virus X. Upon being recruited by the Enchantress to form the Masters of Evil, Zemo quickly established himself as the team leader despite not having any superpowers. He led the Masters of Evil into a break-in of Avengers Mansion, managing to easily incapacitate most of the team. When the Enchantress unveiled her scheme to use the Norn Stones to lead the armies of the Nine Realms to conquer Earth, Zemo anticipated her eventual betrayal. After holding his own against Thor in a duel, Zemo placed a mind-control collar on the Enchantress in an attempt to control the approaching armies for himself. When she came seeking for her revenge, Zemo allied with the Avengers to take her out and kept a Norn Stone as insurance in case they failed. A massive opportunist, Zemo exploits the strengths and weaknesses of both his allies and enemies.
- More Popular Replacement: Helmut is far more popular and well-liked by the fanbase than Heinrich, due to having actual depth and values while just being a cooler villain. It helps that he's completely abandoned the idea of Nazism, making him much easier to like as well. Heinrich, though important to the lore of Marvel, is often considered to be a second-rate Red Skull (in fact, that was why he was made — to fill the role of Red Skull until Lee/Kirby decided to just bring Red Skull back), has no redeeming traits, and is every bit as evil as a mad Nazi scientist is expected to be.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Sort of. Heinrich was and still is seen as just being a poor man's Red Skull, on top of being very easy to hate, but the identity of Baron Zemo is synonymous with Helmut, who is a major Ensemble Dark Horse for Marvel.
- Sequel Displacement: If you use the name "Baron Zemo", you're most likely referring to Helmut, who didn't appear until nearly a decade after his father and didn't actually become Baron Zemo nearly two decades after. If you refer to Heinrich, you're going to have to specify his name to avoid confusion.
YMMV / Baron Zemo