- “I am not a recording, fräulein. I may not be the man I was when the Captain took me prisoner in 1945, but I am.”
- ―Arnim Zola to Black Widow
Arnim Zola is a supervillain from Marvel Comics, specifically for Captain America. He is the secondary antagonist of the 2011 live-action film Captain America: The First Avenger and a minor antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is a Nazi scientist from Switzerland who has survived to the current day by experimenting on himself.
Arnim Zola was created by Jack Kirby.
Arnim Zola, prior to his brain being uploaded digitally, was a short, squat, blond-haired man wearing spectacles. He frequently wore a Nazi outfit with a fedora as well as a scientist garb when doing scientist work.
After his brain upload, he appeared on monitors as green coding matching his face. The camera that allows him to "see" is right over the screen with the face coding, giving him some slight physical similitude with his comics/EMH versions.
Powers and abilities
- Genius level intellect: Arnim Zola is a genius in modification and mutations.
- Cyberkinesis: Due to his brain being uploaded digitally, he had direct access to cyberspace, capable of accessing networks, and even communicating with his agents at SHIELD via the internet to relay target locations. In addition, he also was able to transfer his consciousness to another monitor should one monitor end up damaged, as evidenced by his being relatively unphased by Captain America punching out the monitor he had initially been using.
Marvel Animated Universe
Zola is first seen as one of the prisoners in the Big House when Whirlwind is brought there. He escapes during the breakout.
Afterwards, he is seen with Zemo and the Masters of Evil on multiple occasions.
The Enchantress then goes to Zola to find Zemo. When he refuses he traps her and the exocutioner in a Doughboy, they quickly escape and attack him. He is presumed dead
Captain America: The First Avenger
Originally from Switzerland, Arnim Zola had worked for HYDRA as the chief weapons designer for its original leader, the Red Skull. However, he was captured by the Howling Commandos aboard a train taking him back to HYDRA's main facility. Although he was implanted with a cyanide tooth pill, he didn't use it, as he wasn't willing to risk his life for Red Skull. In exchange for ensuring his safe return to Switzerland and working with the Allies, for the remainder of the war, Zola supplied to the SSR everything he knew about Red Skull, including the location of his top secret bunker.
- “You had a vision, and it didn't come to pass. What is the point of anything now? But given time, and a bit of quiet, new visions will arise. I am familiar with your work on matters of the mind, Herr Doktor. It would give me great pleasure to hear your thoughts on this. Perhaps, there is another way for us to collaborate. I know things seem bleak. But you are, in fact, a fortunate man. You're in prison, yes, but it is an American prison. And America is the land of oppurtunity.”
- ―Arnim Zola to Johann Fennhoff
After World War II, Arnim Zola was sent one of SSR's prisons. One day, he received a new cellmate called Johann Fennhoff. Zola told Fennhoff that he is a big fan of his work. He also gives him a pencil and a paper so they can collaborate, telling him the advantages of the American justice system.
Secretly, Zola managed to retrieve a near-dead Bucky Barnes, whom he had previously experimented on in Italy with a supersoldier experiment in the crevice he fell into during the aforementioned mission to capture him. He then proceeded, alongside what were presumably Soviet soldiers affiliated with HYDRA, to heavily experiment on him, including supplying Barnes with a prosthetic arm and brainwashing him into becoming a high-level, infamous Soviet assassin known only as the Winter Soldier.
During the 1950s, Dr. Zola alongside several former Nazi Scientists, as part of Operation Paperclip, were recruited into aiding in the creation of SHIELD. Zola, seeing an opportunity to ensure HYDRA would be revived within SHIELD without their even suspecting it and continue their goals to eliminate freedom in a subtle manner, managed to recruit several members into HYDRA, ensuring that SHIELD became HYDRA in all but name and dominate the world. Presumably, he was also responsible for the death of Howard Stark. By the 1970s, he was struck with a terminal illness. Despite his body's death, Zola himself did not die: Instead, he had his mind uploaded into several network computers underneath Camp Langley in New Jersey, assuming secret command over both HYDRA and SHIELD via a network of computers. He also hid it deep below SHIELD's original headquarters, already situated below the camp. He orchestrated Operation Insight, which ensured the targeting and elimination of all of HYDRA's enemies in one fell swoop via the digital age.
Captain America, having been thawed out for a few years in the 21st century, eventually discovered alongside former KGB agent Nastasha Romanov, Zola, and HYDRA's role in SHIELD's current actions. He relayed the plans to Captain America, while secretly transmitting their location in an attempt to ensure his death. Presumably, Zola was destroyed for good from the bomb strike, although he failed in having the two killed. Ultimately, his plans with Operation Insight failed, although he still had some HYDRA agents scattered.
Arnim Zola was first seen carrying a box with the Tesseract when riding in HYDRA's truck. As he's about to deliver it to its leader, Red Skull, the army were ambushed by Captain Carter. With the army defeated, he was captured by Carter and acquired the Tesseract. Later, Captain Carter interrogates Zola to find the location of HYDRA's main base.
Zola later appears in What If... Ultron Won?, where Black Widow & Hawkeye travel to Siberia, where there is a second set of databanks for Zola's mind outside Camp Lehigh. The two are able to convince Zola to help them by using his code to take down Ultron from the inside. He is uploaded into an Ultron Sentry (with their legs shot off to make sure he doesn't try anything), and is able to access the Ultron Hive Mind. Unfortunately, he is unable to reach Ultron himself, since Ultron had already broken out of their universe and into the Multiverse.
This is followed up on in What If... The Watcher Broke His Oath?, where Black Widow, having just teamed up with the Guardians of the Multiverse, is able to shoot an arrow containing Zola's AI into Ultron's eye, where Zola quickly overrides Ultron, disabling the android. When Killmonger attempts to take the Infinity Stones from Ultron's body, Zola reveals he is now in control of Ultron's body and attempts to take the Stones back for his own use. With Killmonger & Zola caught in a tug-of-war for possession of the Stones, Doctor Strange Supreme seals the two away in a Pocket Dimension and promises to The Watcher that he shall watch it, to make sure the two do not escape.
Arnim Zola is the main-antagonist of this attraction, leading HYDRA in an attack on the Stark Expo in Hong Kong, attempting to steal an arc reactor. Due to this, he and his HYDRA soldiers engage in battle with Iron Man and guests in the, "Iron-Wing" flight-crafts. Ultimately, HYDRA is defeated and the day is saved.
This attraction is set congruently to the events of the Iron Man experience. It is revealed that Zola designed and released an army of minuscule robots which Iron Man called upon Ant-Man and the Wasp to assist in fighting as they try to steal a S.H.I.E.L.D. data-core.