|“||I am afraid I have been stalling, Captain. Admit it. It's better this way. We are, both of us, out of time.||„|
|~ Arnim Zola to Rogers|
Arnim Zola is a major antagonist of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He appeared as the secondary antagonist in Captain America: The First Avenger, and later as a supporting antagonist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
He is portrayed by Toby Jones in both films.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Zola is a Nazi scientist who works with the Red Skull to harness the Cosmic Cube's power (known in the film as the Tesseract). When HYDRA was organized he became his second in command and personal scientist. After HYDRA forces found the Cube, Schmidt asked Zola if he could study its power, and he accidentally discovered how to transform its energy into advanced laser ammunition. He designed advanced weapons for HYDRA when they became separated from Nazi Germany and was valued enough by the Red Skull to help him escape by giving the scientist access to his personal automobile when Captain America raided the base, thus enabling Zola to also deliver it to safety in the process. He later staged an ambush for Captain America and the Howling Commandos onboard a train, in which Bucky Barnes lost his life, but was eventually captured and interrogated by Chester Phillips, Phillips noting that his lack of the cyanide pills normally used by HYDRA agents to prevent capture suggested that he did not want to die personally. In exchange for sanctuary after Phillips sent a fake letter confirming that he had provided the Allies with information, Zola told them everything he knew about HYDRA and revealed that Red Skull's plans were of world domination.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Zola returns in a minor, yet important role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where Captain America and Black Widow find him in an abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. base and it is revealed that he uploaded his consciousness into a supercomputer before receiving a terminal diagnosis in '72, leading to his physical death. Zola reveals that, when S.H.I.E.L.D was founded, he was recruited to work for them, but at the same time, hoping to finish up what the Red Skull has started, Zola rebuilt HYDRA within S.H.I.E.L.D and that they had been secretly been manipulating the world for many years to the point where humanity was willing to give up its freedom. Under the orders of U.S. Secretary of Defense Alexander Pierce (who is a high-ranking member of HYRDA), Zola designed an algorithm to be implemented by the gunships designed by Project Insight that would wipe out several million people on planet Earth - the only ones that could do anything to stop HYDRA from establishing a "new world order". However, their conversation comes to an end when S.H.I.E.L.D. launches a missile attack pinpointed on Rogers' location, as Zola has been distracting them to allow the launch to happen. Whilst Rogers and Romanoff barely make it out alive, Zola presumably dies in the missile explosion.
It's also revealed that he was the true mastermind behind Howard and Maria Stark's deaths, by planning out an automobile "accident" on Long Island, which took place in 1991. It was also revealed later in Captain America: Civil War that the assassin responsible for the accident was none other than Bucky Barnes, who was, at that time, being brainwashed by HYDRA operative Vasily Karpov.
Captain America: Super SoldierArnim Zola makes an appearance in the video game; Captain America: Super Soldier as one of the main antagonists (and it is canon with the movie franchise). The game takes place during Captain America's time in WWII, fighting the armies of HYDRA. Throughout most of the game, Zola is seen as a human. But around the middle of the game; Zola acquired a robot body. He told Captain America that he transferred his mind into a robot body to be immortal. Captain America fights Zola around four times in the game, and every time, Captain America fight Zola in his robot body. At the end of the game, after Captain America defeated the Sleeper, it turns out that Zola didn't transfer his mind into a robot body, but instead, he uses a video camera on his face placed it on the robot.
- Zola is similar to Hugo Strange from Gotham; They are both mad scientists who answer to criminal organizations (Zola: HYDRA, Strange: The Court of Owls), and they arranged for the deaths of the hero's parents by hiring an assassin (Zola sent the Winter Soldier to kill Tony's parents, while Strange sent Joe Chill to kill Bruce's parents).