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CAPTAIN AMERICA Casting Reaction

Big Face, No Head: The casting of Arnim Zola

By Chad Derdowski     May 12, 2010
Source: Mania

Comicscape: Arnim Zola from CAPTAIN AMERICA by Jack Kirby
© Mania

Last week, Mania readers were treated to the news that veteran British actor Toby Jones was in final negotiations to portray Nazi geneticist Arnim Zola in the big screen version of Captain America. Chris Evans as Cap and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull? Those are both big announcements. A Howling Commandos cameo? Sweet. But it’s the inclusion of Arnim Zola that’s got our blood pumping.

Not that we like Nazi scientists. Far from it. The only time we like seeing Nazis is when they’re getting their faces bashed in by guys like Cap, Hellboy or Indiana Jones. But boy howdy, do we love seein’ Nazis get their faces bashed in! And when it comes to Arnim Zola, the guy’s got a face that takes up his entire chest. That’s a whole lotta face and a whole lotta bashin’ that can be done! And that’s exactly why we’re so excited.


That Ol’ Kirby Krackle!

If you read Comicscape on a regular basis, you know we love us some Jack Kirby. And if you know how much we love Jack Kirby, you undoubtedly understand that part of his appeal are the more outlandish costume and character designs the man came up with. Outside of M.O.D.O.K. and that Celestial with the teacup for a head, Arim Zola is about as outlandish as it gets.

Originally a biochemist during WWII, Arnim Zola was one of the first genetic engineers. One of his earliest accomplishments was a device that allowed someone’s mental essence to be projected into a cloned brain. Zola used this device to imprint Adolph Hitler’s brain patterns into the cloned body of the Hate Monger, a villain who basically looked like a purple Klansman. This was the Marvel Comics of the 1970’s folks – they actually did clone Hitler’s brain, and he returned on several occasions to do battle with Nick Fury, the Fantastic Four and of course, Captain America.


The Oddity of His Commodity

But it doesn’t end there. Zola’s next big step was to use this device to put his own brain into a modified body. Now, if you or I were going to put our brain into a new body, we’d probably try to level up to a bit, right? You know, maybe create a cloned body that was a little taller, maybe a bit better looking or at least in better shape. Not Zola! He opted to create a body that lacked a head and instead featured a little gizmo atop its shoulders. Zola’s face was projected onto a giant holographic projector that took up the majority of the body’s chest.

Seriously, Zola? With the fantastic technology of the Marvel Universe at your disposal, that was the best thing you could come up with? A body, sans head, with a huge face that encompassed its entire chest?!?! And this wasn’t just a one time deal, folks. Arnim Zola has “died” on several occasions, only to continue transferring his mind to other, similarly non-headed bodies with a little mechanical box on top that he uses to control his monstrous creations.

Arnim Zola created Primus, an independently-thinking android with super strength that could alter it’s form to appear human, yet he never bothered to create something a little better for himself. It’s not like we’ve seen any backup bodies that he keeps in storage for his day off. Nope, the guy spends all of his time keeping Hitler alive and trying to put the Red Skull into Steve Rogers’ body but never takes any time to hit the town and pick up some trim in a handsome new beefcake chasis.


But That’s Why We Love Him

It’s the truth. Most villains become that way after a terrible accident leaves them disfigured or bonds robotic tentacles to their body. The shock of the event scars their mind and drives them insane (or more insane if they’re already a little off kilter). Not so with Mr. Zola. He actually chose his hideous body and we love him for it. It’s true that he’s dedicated his life to the vilest of evils, but we thank the good lord and Jack Kirby that he did it with such awkward style.

So what does all this mean for the Captain America movie? Honestly… probably not much. Since the story takes place in World War II, we’re not expecting to see Arnim Zola depicted in all of his headless glory. Odds are he’ll just be some creepy scientist experimenting on lab rats and maybe creating some crazy weaponry (we’re crossing our fingers for giant Nazi robots). But with an Avengers movie in the works, it might not be unrealistic to expect to see Mr. Zola in a brand new body with a television screen embedded in it’s chest by the time that one (or a Captain America sequel) rolls around.


A Sign of Things to Come?

With Arnim Zola cast in Captain America and Hector Hammond slated to appear in the Green Lantern movie, could M.O.D.O.K. be far behind? It may just be wishful thinking on our part, but we know how Hollywood loves to milk a cash cow until it produces naught but powdered milk. Zola’s giant chest-face, Hammond’s enormous cranium… the only logical progression here is the biggest brain of them all and we’re hoping that we see a certain Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing in either the Cap sequel or the Nick Fury movie (assuming they make one).

We at Comicscape salute you, Arnim Zola. Though we disagree with your despicable Nazi ways, we admire the way in which you followed your dreams: with a giant face in the middle of your chest. You sir, are what weird old Marvel Comics are all about, and we look forward to seeing you in the Captain America movie.



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Etrigan252 5/12/2010 7:54:34 AM

I love Chris Evans as an actor but I can't shake off the imagery of Gladiator TItan as Captain America.

lister 5/12/2010 8:51:31 AM

Since the Spinner Rack is over, can we at least get the weekly releases listed back here in Comicscape as in days of yore?

KillerTomato 5/12/2010 9:50:14 AM

I guess it's time to pull out the ridiculous villains from comics-lore.  I mean the most realistic of the bunch always seem to be approached for the movies, but I personally enjoy the less aesthetically pleasing enemies.  The time for complete realism is past, bring forth the ridiculous in all their tv-chested glory... 

DarthDuck 5/12/2010 12:08:43 PM

I was super excited to hear the news of Zola being in Cap's movie.  TV chest face or not, it shows a lot of respect for Cap's origins in the new movie.  A very good actor playing the part to boot.


blahbananas 5/12/2010 8:16:50 PM

 I'm with Lister!  I would love the weekly releases back!  Thats most of the reason I come to every Wednesday, comicscape is just an added bonus.

lister 5/12/2010 11:32:22 PM

Looks like we'll have to spin the rack ourselves...

So Booster Gold #32 has a new creative team of Giffen and DeMatteis.

OK, look, this is one of the only DC titles that I love to read. And the past 1.5 years were great. I loved the concept. I even dug the brief return of Blue Beetle. But I don't know about this...

As much as I enjoyed the "Bwa-hah-hah" business of Blue & Gold, I just don't know about a new, "funny" direction on this book... and I think it may go there. I liked it serious, but fun. I really don't need broad humor here. Well, maybe if they bring back Ted (the REAL Ted, not some Blackest Night simulcrum), then it might work. There's just too much other good stuff going on with Rip and Boostette Gold. I am down for Rip's new book tho...

R.E.B.E.L.S. is my other steady DC book and that ships this week too, so bonus!

Over at Marvel, I am eyeing a few things suspiciously...

At first blush, Xenogenesis looks like just another X-CashCow. But the plot on this one is intruiging. Will check it out!

Black Widow #1 was decent, so I will have a second take.

A new Agents of Atlas? I am so there. The last one just got good when it got canned. Oh no! It's an MGC reprint? Well, just a few more weeks to the new series then.

Marvels Project #8. I like THIS kind of retconning. Pick up the trades if you do too and you missed it.

Dark Avengers? Meh. These past few issues have been dreadful. This last issue will probably just be more filler as we go for the big Siege ending. Same with New Avengers Finale. Treading water, people. Let's wrap this sucker up!

What's that? Siege #4 ships this week? AWESOMENESS! That's this weeks TOP READ.

(hey... only five varient covers? Marvel you are slipping!)

Prince of Power is my TOP READ this week. Incredible Herc was my favorite book during its run, and I am always down for more Cho!

New Mutants is my TOP READ this week (OK look, they're comics and this ain't Sophie's Choice... I can have as many as I want!). It's been such a pleasure having my favorite all-time team back. And even though they lose some space because of the crossover, this event is good enough to warrant the intrusion

Pet Avengers! 'Nuff said!

The Hulk morass continues. It burns. It burrrrrns!!

cdale78 5/13/2010 5:53:15 AM

Lister, speaking of Rebels, check out this piece of original art I just got before I left

Looking forward to Seige #4, but I won't get it for a week or so overseas

dbrock06 5/13/2010 7:33:20 AM

Read Sentry...The Fallen...Why did I bother...I felt bad for Constrictor in avengers the Initiative. v guy just wants to turn his life around and can't. 

Still taking in Siege #4.  Enjoyed it as a whole...don't want to get into it too much with the spoilers.  Left me wanting more  and felt a little anti-climactic..but don't all of the big events? 

I am staring to enjoy Amazing Spiderman a lot more lately..  writing has been better and the artwork has picked up.

Still a few Siege x-over titkles to get through. 

Don't Forget Return of Bruce Wayne came out as well.  I read it...I have not been keeping up with the titles so I was a bit lost. 

I enjoy Flash so I picked it up, but that was the only brightest day title I did pick up.  I am not schilling out for the whole crossover like I did with Siege.  

Can't wait to sink my teeth into New Mutants later today.  This Xmen Crossover has been really good to me.  It almost is reading like some action movie.  I highly reccomend it.

lister 5/13/2010 9:19:25 AM

Siege #4 was very good. Overall one of the best events I have read, simply because of its brevity and its pacing.

That said, I do have issues. I think I'll wait to see if a review comes up here to discuss it there.

POSSIBLE SPOILER??.... The long, dark nightmare of the Sentry is finally over. Thank god. What a lousy character (and the backstory was ugh). Now let's get this Red Hulk thing off our dinner plate. He's the Brussel sprouts of comics!



Nice score! I don't collect comic art, but that would be one I'd want!!

cdale78 5/13/2010 2:36:12 PM

I'm going through Wednesday withdrawals over here. 

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