[Warning: spoilers for Civil War ahead!]
One of the best parts of Captain America: Civil War was Daniel Bruhl's Zemo, a man driven by vengeance to manipulate the Avengers into war. An unusually quiet and low-key villain (by Marvel's standards at least), Zemo was terrifying in his ability to pull the strings, but one of the most frightening things about him was how his motivations were almost sympathetic.
At Civil War's conclusion, we see Zemo locked away in the cell which used to hold Bucky Barnes. He and Ross face off, and Zemo challenges us to question whether he did actually fail in his mission after all. This final word is chilling, as it positions Zemo as the only villain to ever best the Avengers. Naturally, we'd love to see more from Zemo, especially as his original comic book incarnation was so iconic. So is he being set up to appear in another movie?
Hints In The Concept Art
In the final version of the film, the Zemo we see barely resembles his comic book counterpart. Gone is the lurid red mask and grand outfit: instead, Zemo is an unremarkable everyman, blending into the crowd. But that wasn't always the plan for him, or so this concept art implies.
Recently released by Marvel, this Civil War concept art presents Zemo in a costume far closer to his original appearance. It's possible that in the early stages of planning, the creative team toyed with the idea of having Zemo be a classic, larger-than-life villain, rather than the inscrutable master manipulator he turned out to be.
But there is another, more long term option: what if this concept art is actually meant for Zemo's return to the MCU, after Civil War? After all, we saw Frank Grillo's origin story in The Winter Soldier, before he appeared as Crossbones in Civil War.
Following this theory, which upcoming movie could Zemo appear in? Infinity War would be the most obvious choice, but it's possible that he might return even sooner than that, thanks to another character from Civil War.
Connections To Black Panther
Zemo might primarily be a character from the Captain America comics, but the man who interrogates him at Civil War's conclusion hails from another sub-franchise. We're talking of course of Everett K. Ross, the CIA agent played by Martin Freeman. In the comics, Ross is a liaison for T'Challa, often advising the Wakandan King on potential conflicts.
Considering Freeman is a prolific actor, it seems likely that his role in the MCU is far from over, and his character's connection to Black Panther imply that he'll appear in the solo film (though this has yet to be confirmed). So what does that have to do with Zemo?
Well, this could be a way to get Ross involved in Black Panther: when Zemo escapes, he might team up with T'Challa to chase down the villain, as T'Challa was the one to apprehend Zemo in the first place. After that fantastic scene between T'Challa and Zemo in Civil War, it would be fantastic to see these two characters go head to head, with Zemo playing all the mind games he can.
But Zemo wouldn't be alone in facing Wakanda's guardian - there's also Ulysses Klaue, a long time foe of Black Panther who will no doubt appear in the solo film. Klaue (played by Andy Serkis) appeared in Age Of Ultron, working with the Maximoff siblings and Ultron himself. His appearance in Avengers 2 established Klaue's history as a Vibranium thief and his hatred of T'Chaka, setting him up to return in Black Panther.
Bringing this all together, it would be totally awesome for Klaue and Zemo to team up in Black Panther, as the two villains finally realise their terrifying potential.
Do you want to see Zemo return in another MCU film?