Warning: SPOILERS for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 3 – “Power Broker”

In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 3, Baron Helmut Zemo’s (Daniel Bruhl) prison escape echoed his scheme that caused the Avengers’ to break apart in Captain America: Civil War. Indeed, Zemo even utilized Bucky Barnes AKA The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), just like he did in Civil War – only this time, Barnes was his willing accomplice. The Avengers appeared unbeatable after their triumphs over Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Chitauri, and Ultron (James Spader), but Zemo did what no other supervillain could by masterminding the defeat of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

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As a former Sokovian intelligence agent with no superpowers, Helmut Zemo knew he could never beat the Avengers head-on. Instead, he ingeniously engineered events to make the Avengers fight themselves in Captain America: Civil War, which led to the superteam’s collapse. The key to Zemo’s plot was the Winter Soldier; the Baron acquired the codewords to Barnes’ Hydra brainwashing that would put the cybernetic assassin in his thrall. Zemo then bombed the signing of the Sokovia Accords at the United Nations in Vienna, and he framed the Winter Soldier for the terrorist act. In response, the Avengers split down the middle, with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) going rogue to find his best friend Bucky while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) assembled Team Iron Man to stop Team Cap. Zemo then activated the Winter Soldier’s Hydra programming to further the Avengers’ feud. Zemo’s coup-de-grace was letting Captain America, Barnes, and Iron Man find him at Hydra’s Siberia base. By making Rogers reveal that he knew the Winter Soldier assassinated Tony’s parents, it drove the final wedge that ended the Avengers.

After Zemo was apprehended by T’Challa AKA The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) at the end of Captain America: Civil War, the Sokovian Baron was imprisoned in Germany instead of the MCU’s supermax, The Raft. In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes decided to help Zemo escape prison because he and Sam Wilson AKA The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) needed the villain’s knowledge of Hydra to track down the new variant of the Super Soldier Serum that was used to create the Flag-Smashers. Zemo was amendable to a prison break, but the method he used to escape, with Bucky willingly helping Zemo this time, was an uncanny mirror image of the tactics he used to trigger the Avengers’ civil war.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s prison break started when Zemo had Barnes drop a note to one of the prisoners playing chess in the yard. The note was a lie that the person he was playing against was plotting to kill him, which immediately sparked violence. Clearly, Zemo knew there was already animosity between the two inmates and he played it to his advantage. As an intelligence agent who studied the Avengers, Zemo must have been aware of buried tension between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and he similarly capitalized on it for his own ends. As the two prisoners brawled, other inmates immediately joined in and started a riot – just like how then other Avengers took sides between Team Cap and Team Iron Man. The prison riot was like the Avengers’ battle at Berlin Airport in Captain America: Civil War redux.

Meanwhile, Zemo took advantage of the chaos that he instigated by using the Winter Soldier as his proxy. The Baron acquired the security passcards he needed to open the prison doors, just as he gained the Hydra book with the Russian codewords to control the Winter Soldier. While everyone was distracted by the prisoners brawling – just as fans watching Civil War were focused on the Avengers – Zemo slipped out of the prison in the same way he moved undetected throughout Europe and into Siberia.

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In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Baron Zemo went right back to his same bag of tricks and he proved that they continually work. Even without powers, Baron Zemo brilliantly reinforced the fact that he ranks high among the Avengers’ most dangerous villains because the master manipulator’s modus operandi of getting people mightier than he is to turn on each other keeps working.

Key Release Dates
  • Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
  • Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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