This article contains spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
In 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers catches up with everything he missed when he was on ice by carrying around a little notebook full of historic moments and pop culture recommendations. In Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) has a similar notebook of his own. But instead of entries like “Nirvana”, “Thai Food,” or “Moon Landing”, Bucky’s has a list of names linked to past sins he must atone for, mostly carried out when he was Hydra’s favorite assassin, the Winter Soldier.
In the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Bucky gets an opportunity to scratch one name off his list, but isn’t quite ready to face the ramifications of another. He’s befriended an elderly man whose son was apparently killed after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We the viewers know that wasn’t exactly the case. The man’s son was just an innocent bystander who happened to witness one of Bucky’s viciously precise assassinations, and Bucky couldn’t let that slide. Now, he has to decide whether to out himself as a killer to the victim’s father – one of the only friends he’s managed to make since emerging from the darkness.
Marvel Easter Eggs
Bucky’s notebook list makes for interesting reading, depending on how far you feel like stretching for Easter eggs: A. Rostov, P.W. Hauser, F. Gannod, I. Tahlazar, H. Henrikson, N. Sari, T. Osman, L. Kaminski, M. Kaminski, C. Kusnetsov…
“P.W. Hauser” could be a nod to Paul Walter Hauser, who you may have recently seen playing Raymond in Cobra Kai. He starred opposite Stan in the Oscar-winning ice skating biopic, I, Tonya. Then there’s “L. Kaminski” – Len Kaminski was a notable writer for Marvel Comics, previously working on War Machine, Avengers, Iron Man, and more.
Colonel Andre Rostov – the Red Barbarian – was a warden in a gulag that Bucky was confined to after killing Russian citizens in Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Winter Soldier comics. “Kusnetsov” is also listed. There was a scientist who worked for the Soviet space program in the pages of Marvel Comics with the same name.
But one specific name on Bucky’s list should certainly raise some eyebrows, and could be key to future episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: H. Zemo.
During the events of Captain America: Civil War, Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) was the vaguely sympathetic villain behind an intricate plot to sew mistrust among the Avengers. By disguising himself as Bucky and causing an explosion that killed King T’Chaka, and later triggering Bucky’s Hydra brainwashing, his plan ultimately pitted Steve Rogers and Tony Stark against each other when it was revealed that Bucky was behind the horrifying double murder of Tony’s parents during the early ’90s.
Zemo was apparently dead set on serving up a cold dish of revenge to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes after his family were killed in the Battle of Sokovia during Avengers: Age of Ultron, and planned to end his life when the job was finally done. T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman) refused to let Zemo escape punishment, and he was later imprisoned. But as we have already learned from Marvel, the frighteningly intelligent villain – a former Colonel of the Sokovian Armed Forces – will return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier with renewed purpose.
In Marvel Comics, Zemo is more often referred to as “Baron Zemo.” Known to be the 13th in a long line of Zemos who acquired their land and nobility by pledging allegiance to the German Empire, he isn’t the first H. Zemo to cause a despicable amount of trouble in Marvel Comics history. And in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Helmut will claim the title of “Baron” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we don’t yet know how.
Bucky was active as the Winter Soldier for decades, so the inclusion of an “H. Zemo” on the list doesn’t necessarily mean that he has unfinished business with Bruhl’s Helmut Zemo. Though he probably hasn’t yet been able to make peace with the terrible things that happened in Civil War, Bucky’s connection to the Zemo family may end up going back even further. For example, in the comics, it was Helmut’s father Heinrich Zemo who was the one responsible for Captain America and Bucky’s fateful journey into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.
Or maybe Bucky actually knows a lot more about Helmut’s post-Blip whereabouts than he’s willing to share.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will release new episodes on Disney+ every Friday.