Captain America has a pretty extensive list of rogues, but two names always appear, no matter what time period it is or whatever dangerous situation the star-spangled man is in. Baron Zemo and the Red Skull are Cap's most dangerous foes that he has ever faced. Whether it's in WWII or the modern era, these two symbols of fear and oppression follow Steve and cause misery.
Both of them have been known to cause almost world-changing threats and are responsible for a number of terrible moments in Steve Rogers' life. But which of these two men is more deadly, more manipulative and more dangerous? Whether it's in the comics or on the big screen, we're taking a look at them both.
10 ZEMO: PASSING THE NAME
One of the keys to a good villain is a great name. Baron Zemo's might just be one of the most dangerous names in the Marvel Universe, because of it's legacy. The name Zemo is passed through the family and it carries with it a certain set of principles and beliefs.
The two most notable versions are Heinreich Zemo and Helmut Zemo, both of whom have battled Captain America. The other family trait, aside from the purple mask they don, is their intellect. The many versions of Baron Zemo have shared a genius-level IQ, which makes them especially dangerous to Cap.
9 RED SKULL: Longevity And Survival
There is only one true Red Skull and he is a survivalist, having lived through the 40s and become a threat in the modern era. The ominous face of the Red Skull has caused fear for generations.
Over the years, the character has dodged so many deaths and has even returned in the form of a clone! He's very resourceful when it comes to protecting his own life and has manipulated reality or even his own body in order to keep on fighting the villainous fight. At one point he actually used the mind of Charles Xavier to boost his abilities, although this became boring to him. Red Skull might have more staying power than Zemo!
8 Zemo: Masters Of Evil
Any good villain has to be adaptable, at times creating tenuous alliances. Zemo is especially good at finding the right allies and organising them in such a way that they can become a true threat to Captain America. The creation of the Masters of Evil was one way the Zemo thought that he could get the upper hand over Cap and his own allies.
Both incarnations of Zemo have created their own Masters of Evil, to varying levels of success. However, great threats are met by even greater heroes, and the creation of this team led to staunch competition from the Avengers. The Masters of Evil never quite fulfil their destiny to end Steve Rogers, but they are a very dangerous force led by a skilled tactician.
7 RED SKULL: COSMIC CUBE
The Red Skull does have allies of his own, but he often likes to rely upon his own ingenuity and cunning in order to create a world that he can identify with. One of his obsessions, both in the comics and the movie world, is the Cosmic Cube. The Cube has the ability to change reality and create energy weapons depending on the version. It's a powerful tool in the right hands.
Of course, Skull's are the wrong hands, but that doesn't stop him from completely changing reality. The Hydra Captain America was created by Skull's use of the Cosmic Cube, changing Steve Roger's past to line it up with a Nazi programme. This shift in the world had dire consequences and led to the Secret Empire event.
6 Zemo: Thunderbolts
The Thunderbolts have a long history in the comics, all starting with an idea from Zemo. This idea showcases the manipulative nature of the villain and how his schemes actually have long term potential, showcasing how dangerous he could really be to Captain America.
The concept of the Thunderbolts is to take criminals and anti-heroes and turn them into superheroes, but the original version of the team was actually the Masters of Evil in disguise. Zemo had created a team which could fool the world into thinking they were heroes.
5 RED SKULL: HYDRA LEADER
Leadership is a strong quality for any villain, but there's no leader like the Red Skull. The Hydra leader's ability is one reason why the organization has continued to thrive for so long. He's a master strategist and tactician.
He's constantly modernising the villainous organisation, bringing it to the forefront of technological advances. The group has continued to be a threat for Captain America and the wider universe. It continues to serve its purpose of ridding the world of its heroes and restoring a new order. Hail Hydra!
4 ZEMO: BUCKY'S DEATH AND CAP FROZEN
In the movies, Red Skull is given credit for the freezing of Captain America and is partially responsible for the death of Bucky. However, in the comics it happens in quite a different way. The saying "two birds, one stone" comes to mind in this case. Baron Zemo managed to rid the world of both Bucky and Cap when he sent a deadly missile into the air.
The two jumped on it in order to stop it. However, this had big consequences for the characters at the time. Captain America came off, plummeting into the sea and freezing until the present day. Bucky, on the other hand, continued to ride the bomb until it exploded. We now know he also survived the impact and was turned into the Winter Soldier, but all of this was directly because of Zemo's work.
3 RED SKULL: MASTERMIND OF CAP'S DEATH
Of course, if we want to look at an example of the Red Skull becoming responsible for Cap's death in the comics, then we don't have to look much further than the events that unfolded just after Civil War. The Red Skull set everything in motion to lead to the death of Captain America.
With the use of Crossbones and the manipulation of Sharon Carter, Steve Rogers was shot in public, in an assassination that stunned the world. It was a moment of brilliance from Skull, who continued to put his big plan into action, eventually cloning the body of Steve Rogers and using it for his own purposes. It's an iconic comic moment and demonstrates the resources and ruthlessness of the Red Skull.
2 ZEMO: CIVIL WAR MANIPULATION
Looking at the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, it's clear that Zemo has already been used in a dangerous way. While the depiction of him on the big screen has been different from what we've seen in the comics, his manipulation during the events of Captain America: Civil War shows just how dangerous he really is.
Zemo manages to create a situation that pits Earth's mightiest heroes against one another; a plan that Red Skull might not have been able to pull off in the same way. He slowly pulls the Avengers apart. However, while some of this way based on luck and Zemo was eventually caught, this wasn't the last we'll see of the villain.
1 RED SKULL: ICONIC ARCH-ENEMIES
The best way to measure which villain is the most dangerous is to look at their legacy. Out of Zemo and Red Skull, only one of them is truly recognised as the iconic arch-enemy of Captain America. Based on his belief system, his actions and longevity, Red Skull is recognised as the most dangerous villain.
Every iteration of Captain America, whether it's in various comic universes or on the big or small screen, is linked completely to the Red Skull. The Sherlock and Moriarty of their world, Red Skull is in some ways the most dangerous villain to Captain America just because he is perceived to be! Zemo doesn't quite compare (arguably).