Captain America’s third solo outing is, of course, Captain America: Civil War, with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark squaring up against Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers (more details here). This week, it’s come to light that Daniel Brühl may also play a role in proceedings - probably a villainous one, and one who could spin into a larger role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange later in 2016. So which Captain America foe could he be? Or will he be drafted in from another corner of the Marvel universe? Here are five potentials, none of which are the very-unlikely-seeming Red Skull…
Introduced: The Avengers #4, 1964
The Winter Soldier demonstrated that nefarious adversaries from Cap’s past seem determined to return to haunt him, and along those lines Baron Zemo could be an excellent choice. This one’s a shared (evil) mantle between a father and son. The elder Zemo was Nazi scientist Heinrich – a super-strong, super-vengeful Nazi scientist, at that – who caused trouble for Cap in World War II. His son Helmut, upon learning in later life that Steve Rogers was still alive, took up his then-deceased dad’s moniker to continue the family’s evil legacy.
Civil War potential: Helmut Zemo popped up in a fun way during a Civil War spin-off in the comics. Having gathered a team of villains, he had them pretend to be heroes in a sneaky attempt at world domination, something that could fit in nicely with the film’s superhero registration plot idea. We’re not sure how well he’d fit into a Doctor Strange movie, however.
Brühl factor: Mr. Brühl showed he was capable of wisdom and rage beyond his years in Ron Howard’s Formula 1 drama Rush. He could reuse that meticulous skillset as an angry orphaned son gifted with slowed-aging, superhuman strength and scientific genius.
Introduced: Captain America #107, 1968
This chap likes to call himself ‘The Master Of Men’s Minds’, which probably sounded a bit better in his head. Regardless, his preference for psychological warfare could play well against the wealth of guilt and regret that Steve Rogers buries beneath his righteous exterior. Devoid of superpowers, machine-enhancements or any alien trickery, Faustus uses persuasion and deception to get what he wants.
Civil War potential: In the comics, Doctor Faustus used his methods to encourage Sharon Carter (Peggy’s niece, played by Emily VanCamp in The Winter Soldier) to assassinate Steve Rogers, and even popped up as an expert witness in a trial that questioned whether Bucky could be blamed for the Winter Soldier’s actions. Both of these could potentially be carried through to the movie, though the trial element seems most plausible. We’re less sure how he’d fit into a Strange movie, however.
Brühl factor: Brühl is a lot skinner and younger than the usual representation of Doctor Faustus. However, rewriting a character to fit a young, intelligent type isn’t unheard of (consider Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor). Brühl has done the young-smartypants-type before, in The Fifth Estate (which you almost certainly haven’t seen).
Introduced: Invaders #7, 1976
It wouldn’t be a list of Marvel villains without multiple barons on the register, and this one is particularly interesting. Baron Blood is an immortal vampire who sided with the Germans during both world wars. The mantle recurs multiple times throughout Marvel history, but the original incarnation seems most promising. With this first Blood, Cap used his shield to – ahem – decapitate his foe, which didn’t kill him, but probably hurt a lot.
Civil War potential: In the comics, none of the Baron Bloods play a part in Civil War. Despite that, introducing a more supernaturally-tinged character as a side-villain could sow the seeds well for the more mystical world of Doctor Strange. Still, it would be an odd fit, tonally.
Brühl factor: Despite never tackling a vampire, Daniel Brühl was in Inglourious Basterds, which may help given its buckets of blood. Or may not.
Introduced: Tales Of Suspense #93, 1967
M.O.D.O.K. is a big floating head in a jar with tiny arms and legs poking out. He’s also blessed with an open-for-debate acronym which defines him as an either a Mental, Mobile or Mechanised Organism Designed Only for Killing. Given his fairly ridiculous look, M.O.D.O.K. is often played for laughs. Despite that, as a super-intelligent, highly calculating foe (who always boasts plenty of minions), he is often a considerable threat.
Civil War potential: He doesn’t play a role in the Civil War comics, but M.O.D.O.K. usually has an evil scheme on the go – even over Christmas. In a bid to establish a wider world and a sense of danger (which seems necessary considering that Captain America: Civil War will probably lack the all-inclusive crossover elements of the comics) bringing down M.O.D.O.K. could make for a fun extended opening sequence. But how would that fit in to the Strange movie?
Brühl factor: Although he’s sadly never portrayed a giant bulbous head before, Brühl has played plenty of intelligent types, most recently as spy-assistant Max in A Most Wanted Man. If he can add an air of crazed killing machine to those brains, he could well be on to something.
Introduced: Strange Tales 111, 1963
With magic energy blasts, instant teleportation and thought-casting on his supervillain CV, Baron Mordo seems a little too wacky for the gritty and grounded tone the Russo brothers established in The Winter Soldier. Despite that, the Civil War plot is bound to push Cap in new directions. This particular Baron would do a good job there, and with mystical powers akin to Doctor Strange, he offers a villain not-very-suited to Cap’s skillset of punching things hard.
Civil War potential: Although he doesn’t appear in the Civil War comics, there’s a space in the plot into which Baron Mordo might fit. In the comics, the government decides to start registering superheroes after a young group of immature heroes cause a town-leveling catastrophe. In the comics, seeing Cap fail miserably against a mystically-powered villain could serve a similar purpose while anchoring proceedings closer to the core MCU cast.
Brühl factor: This would be the biggest stretch of Brühl’s previously-showcased areas of acting expertise, but that could be the very reason to cast him. If he is being lined up for more screen time in Doctor Strange, Mordo would also work (he’s the jilted former student of Strange’s mentor, The Ancient One, and far more closely associated with Strange than Cap – which would make sense if it really is a bigger role in that film).