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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Better villain: Red Skull or Baron Zemo?




    I was wondering which Captain America villain is better in your opinion.

    To me, I find the contrast between Red Skull and Baron Zemo to be quite interesting, and in some ways each is better at a different kind of story.

    Red Skull is the embodiment of the Nazi ideology, and as such, his characterization is that he's pure evil. He's made to stand against Captain America's virtuous character and American spirit by being the exact opposite of that. Red Skull is also a major player in HYDRA, the big Nazi remnant organization of the MU. In short, Red Skull is made to be a total villain, and you could argue that's for the best.

    Baron Zemo is much more nuanced in comparison. As a child, Helmut was raised by Heinrich to believe in Nazism, but eventually abandoned it. He's his own thing in terms of morals. He's still a villain, but he has genuine tragedy in his life, and you can get the sense that if things went just a little differently, he would've been a better man. Baron Zemo has occasionally worked with HYDRA in a matter of shared interests, but really, he's more likely to be separate, often leading the Masters of Evil.

    The contrast is that Red Skull is meant to be a full villain, and you could get lot of mileage out of someone that heartless. On the other hand, Baron Zemo is allowed to have depth, be more in a gray area, and be someone you can sympathize with while still rooting against. As a result, they work in different kinds of stories. Red Skull may be Captain America's iconic nemesis, but you absolutely could not have made Siege with him and not Zemo. Likewise, Zemo was the lynchpin of the original Thunderbolts, a story only he could've done.

    I think in general, Red Skull works better as a villain to a lone Captain America, while Baron Zemo works better as a villain to Captain America in team stories (ie Avengers vs. Masters of Evil). Red Skull is best for black and white morality stories, Baron Zemo allows for more gray in between them.

    Overall, which do you prefer and why?

  2. #2
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    Zemo is the more interesting character who can function as both a villain and an extreme anti-hero protagonist, which makes him the better character. That applies to many Marvel villains, though. Red Skull has an iconic visual, represents a real-world problem, and is so blatantly evil with no redeeming qualities that writers can have him do the worst things ever without any hesitation.

    nah but for real johan is a lil incel loser
    zemo ride or die baby

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  3. #3
    Fantastic Member Grapeweasel's Avatar
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    They're both Nazis.

    They should both be punched in the face with equal vigor.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Ying Ko's Avatar
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    Zemo, easily.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeweasel View Post
    They're both Nazis.

    They should both be punched in the face with equal vigor.
    Zemo, eh... not really. I mean he was, but he outgrew that. If anything, Zemo's themed more heavily as a pseudo-Prussian aristocrat than a Nazi.

  6. #6
    Mighty Member babyblob's Avatar
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    I have always enjoyed the original Zemo. I mean he formed the first Masters of Evil, Killed Bucky (Or so we thought) created Wonderman. He was fun to read. I havnt read much with his son as Zemo so I cant say.

    But Red Skull. Man I just love him. Oure evil, no one trying to make some BS tragic back story that makes you feel sorry for him or want to root for him. He does what he does with no thought to others. Fort him it is all about achieving his goal.
    Favorite teams. Alpha Flight, Avengers, Fantastic Four, West Coast Avengers, Justice Society of America, Legion of Superheroes.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    Zemo’s the Marvel Conics Nazi -i- root for.

  8. #8

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    Zemo has a personality

  9. #9
    Uncanny Member XPac's Avatar
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    I suppose it depends on how one defines better.

    I certainly prefer Zemo. He's a far less black and white character.

    But Skull is more an A list villain in a lot of ways. If they're ever in the same story there's a descent chance Zemo would end up Skulls side kick.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member chamber-music's Avatar
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    I actually like that the Red Skull is just a full on unrepentant villain. Johann Schmidt being a bigoted terrorist that even other villains dislike is change from all the other sympathetic villains.

    I like Zemo also though.

  11. #11
    Boisterously Confused
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    It's not either or for me. Red Skull, however, is the more iconic Cap adversary.

  12. #12
    Fantastic Member Alphaxman's Avatar
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    What Kurt Busiek did for Zemo in 12 issues of Thunderbolts outweigh anything the Red Skull has done. So the the Baron for me. But I can admit Skully is more iconic and is in the top ten of Marvel villains.

    1. Doom
    2. Magneto
    3. Loki
    4. The Green Goblin
    5. Ultron
    6. The Red Skull
    7. Apocalypse
    8. Kingpin
    9. Vemon
    10. Kang

  13. #13
    Incredible Member
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    Red Skull. The story stuck on my mind of Red Skull's evil comes from Captain America #367.


  14. #14
    Extraordinary Member Holt's Avatar
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    Zemo's more versatile. Red Skull appearances tend to be rather one note.

  15. #15
    Boisterously Confused
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holt View Post
    Zemo's more versatile. Red Skull appearances tend to be rather one note.
    Yeah, IMO, RS and The Joker have similar limitations on what editors seem to think can be done with them.

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