ZolaToby Jones has confirmed that he will be reprising his role as quirky Nazi/HYDRA scientist Dr. Arnim Zola in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).  While we have been bombarded with BTS pictures and details on this year’s Marvel release (Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World) and casting potentials for next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, things have been rather silent on the Cap front the past couple months.

Those who are aware of the meaning of the subtitle have a general idea of where things might be headed in the sequel.  We also know that unlike the other films mentioned above, SHIELD will have a heavy presence in Cap’s second solo outing.  The confirmed returning cast already includes Chris Evans (duh!), Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, and the aforementioned Jones.  They are joined by newcomers Frank Grillo (as the villainous “Crossbones“) and Anthony Mackie (as superhero “Falcon“).

The inclusion of the henchman Crossbones raised a flag for me; one that the return of Zola further cements.  While there’s no guarantee I’m right, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that HYDRA is going to resurface during modern times.  Arnim Zola and Crossbones have both always been faithful servants of Red Skull and HYDRA, so I see no reason to doubt that will remain true for this project.  This, dear readers, is perfectly fine by me.  Reintroducing HYDRA to the modern world as evil corporation that Cap & SHIELD must thwart on a regular basis is a smart move, especially when we have a SHIELD TV series on the way.

Does that mean we should expect Hugo Weaving (or someone else*) back as Captain America’s crimson-faced archnemesis in 2014?  Not necessarily.  While I suspect (and hope) that a reappearance of Red Skull is inevitable, I’m not expecting it to happen next year.  HYDRA has had other leaders throughout the ages, most famously Baron Von Strucker and Baron Zemo.  The still-uncast lead villain** will probably be one of those characters and Zemo seems the likeliest candidate to yours truly.  Regardless, the direction this sequel is taking is becoming clearer as time goes on.

As for Zola specifically, Jones unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) made no mention of how large his role will be and in what capacity.  The producers and writers have already stated their desire to a have few flashbacks to some of Cap’s unseen WW2 adventures.  Zola could easily factor into those, but the real question is whether or not he will appear during the modern day sections of the film.  Will we finally see Jones’ face stretched across a viewscreen in the belly of an intimidating robot body?  I certainly hope so.  Merely an Easter egg or not, the filmmakers have already hinted at the possibility TWICE during the original film’s running time…

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With Marvel going further and further down the “cosmic” road with many of their upcoming films, I see no reason why audience would have trouble accepting Zola’s “true” form from the comics.  With a start date drawing ever closer on this, expect to start hearing a lot more about Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  The two remaining lead roles…the female lead (love interest?) and the big bad…will likely be cast in the coming weeks and story details should start pouring out as well.  Given what we already know about the film, where would YOU like to see the story go?  Chime in below and in the forums.


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* – While wouldn’t label them as disparaging as many have, Weaving was recently rather honest about his desire to move away from portraying villains in summer blockbuster fare from here on out.  While he IS under contract to return for at least one more film, it will remain to be seen if Weaving returns to the role when Herr Schmidt inevitably graces the Marvel Movieverse again.  I suspect he will say “yes” when the time comes though.

** – The last casting rumor was that they were courting Viggo Mortensen, who apparently turned them down.  This is third or fourth time that Viggo has turned down the chance to play a supervillain in recent years.